Replacing the Lifebook T901 - Looking for a Unicorn

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by Grace D. Palmer, Nov 3, 2020.

  1. Grace D. Palmer

    Grace D. Palmer Pen Pal - Newbie

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    tl;dr: My Lifebook t936 is dying and I have never really liked it. The t901 was great; help me find the closest modern version.
    Hello, all!
    After years of lurking, I've registered in the hope that the forum hivemind can help me.

    I'm trying to find something that doesn't exist: a modernized version of the Lifebook t900/t901. I've been using variations on the Penabled swivel-hinge ultrabook for over a decade, and it fits my workflow just about perfectly. So, of course, everybody stopped making those.

    I've been getting by on older Lifebooks for years, but the tech is getting old and has increasing trouble keeping up. I'm struggling to find any reasonable substitute - EMR and swivel hinges are out of fashion, tablets with floppy keyboards reign supreme.

    I know my odds of discovering a secret t901 clone are close to zero, but does anyone know anything close?
    - I'm flexible to agnostic on weight, super long battery life, thickness, brand and looks.
    - I really like EMR digitizers, swivel-style convertibles, the size and the aspect ratio, but could be convinced. I haven't been able to get a hands-on trial of the 360 hinge style or other digitizer types.
    - I can't budge on durability or lots of memory, but I can install more if the device allows.

    Any ideas? I had hopes for the zbook x2, but my impression is that it is too bulky to use without a table.

    Thanks for your time

    General Questions.

    1. What is your budget?
    Flexible - I've thus far bought used in the <$400 range, but could (grumblingly) manage something up to the low four figures.

    2. Would you consider purchasing used/refurbished?
    Yes, but I've gotten pickier as seller refurbs have died suddenly.

    3. Do you prefer a media/mobile tablet like the iPad, Windows tablet PC, or notebook convertible?
    I want an old-fashioned convertible - rotating swivel hinge and all

    4. What size Tablet PC would you prefer?
    Ideally, 12-13 inch. Flexible within an inch or so, but 15 will be way too big.

    5. Which country do you intent to purchase from [where do you live]?
    United States

    6. Do you have any preferences to brand loyalty or dislikes?
    Mostly outdated ones - I liked pre-Lenovo Thinkpads and have used a lot of Fujitsu Lifebooks

    7. How many hours battery life do you require?
    Minimum 2+ at max use.

    8. What will be the primary usage scenario of this tablet? (Email/Web Surfing/Drawing/Word Processing/Entertainment/Notetaking etc)
    Painting/Web browsing/Music or video/Light gaming

    9. Do you have an OS preference? For example, do you own an iPhone and a Mac, or are you a Windows fan? Do you own an Android device and use Google services frequently?
    I prefer Ubuntu-flavored Linux but grudgingly end up using Windows much of the time

    10. What software and tasks do you intend to run? (Microsoft Office or other Word Processing Suite/Photoshop/3D Studio Max/Autocad etc)
    Clip Studio Paint, Paint Tool SAI or Krita, occasional old copy of Photoshop. Firefox with 20+ tabs, LibreOffice, occasional vector or layout programs

    11. Do you intend on playing Games? If so please list.
    Don't Starve Together, Oxygen Not Included, Sunless Skies, Katamari Damacy

    12. Would you like to stream content through your home theater system?
    No, I'm good.

    Screen Specifics

    1. Any preference on screen resolution?
    Yes, but less a resolution preference than an aspect ratio preference:
    4:3, 3:2 or 16:10 let me work comfortably. 16:9 is tolerable but rather awkward. Can't go lower than 1280x800 or I lose the bottom of my software.

    2. Will you be using the tablet outdoors? Do you need to be able to see it through glare from the sun?
    See the above linked FAQ for guidance
    I'll mostly use it indoors, though it's always nice if there's not too much glare. I won't be using it in direct sun outside, though.

    3. Do you require a pen? With or without pressure sensitivity? Do you prefer Wacom EMR, AES or N-trig?
    See the above linked FAQ for guidance
    A pressure-sensitive pen is mandatory. I have always used EMR, don't really need tilt sensitivity, and work happily with 256 levels of pressure. I am open to other tech, but am forgetful and tend to lose pens/fail to charge batteries, so it's nice when I can interchange pens between devices.

    Component Specifics

    1. What size Hard Drive and Memory do you require? Would you like expandable memory?
    256GB and up for the hard drive, 8GB for the memory. Upgradeability is a highly desirable plus.

    2. What sort of inputs do you require, if any? Would you like full-sized USB and SD card slots? Are microUSB and microSD ok? Do you require HDMI inputs?
    Device needs: full size USB, A/C charger (microUSB tablets have not been a success). Other inputs are optional.

    I use my laptop 8-12 hours most days, need a solid build and repairability more than thin-and-light design.
    So far I have tried: Microsoft Surface Pro 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, Samsung Galaxy Book 10, Fujitsu Lifebook T936.
    stoneseeker likes this.
  2. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    Swivel style just aint gonna happen sadly, but there are some EMR unicorns out there.

    Have you checked out the new Acer ConceptD 9 or 7 ezel? They are EMR convertibles that are more powerful than any other convertible out there by a landslide. They are also really really expensive.
    If power is not as big of a concern, there are a couple other options besides the HP ZBook x2.
    Samsung makes a decent 15" EMR convertible now, have a look in the Samsung thread for the specifics, it lacks in RAM though.

    I finally replaced my T902 with the HP ZBook X2, and so far have been really impressed. I also prefer the convertible laptop style for lapability, but for drawing at a desk or table, it is just as good, if not better since the existing keyboard detaches and continues to work for typing and shortcuts while you draw, whereas I always had to have a spare bluetooth keyboard with my T902 when I had it in drawing mode.
    Grace D. Palmer and JoeS like this.
  3. Grace D. Palmer

    Grace D. Palmer Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Ah, thank you! I'm disappointed but not surprised to get confirmation that the swivel hinge is dead. I will simply have to adapt.

    It is good to hear from someone who has actually had a t902 and used the Zbook X2, also. I hadn't been aware of the Acer machines or the larger Samsung, so I'll definitely look at those as well.
  4. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    yea, I am currently working full time on my ZBook X2 designing and painting large environments for a film and its doing a great job keeping up. I only took it out to work once at a coffee shop and it was fantastic but I got a table near a plug. The Acer Concept D7 ezel would be my first choice if it were realistic for me to spend that much, but just cant justify it right now.

    The X2 is such premium build quality, (absolute tank, and feels very practical and industrial like the early T series) and the screen is best in class, putting all the rest of the EMR machines to shame in color accuracy and resolution. If you can find a good deal on one, its worth it IMO. If you need more power or want to game or if money is no object, the Acers are the easy win.
    Grace D. Palmer likes this.
  5. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    To some of the specifics you mentioned, the Galaxy Book Flex is definitely the newer device over the 2-3 year old zbook x2 G4 but it seems to have a maximum RAM size of 12GB. I'm not sure if that's soldered on but I was able to configure my zbook to higher RAM when I bought it.
    Interchangeable pens - the zbook and Samsung use the same newer version of EMR and share that with the Wacom One screen tablet. Some dispute that the grey nibs you can only get with the zbook stylus are felt (certainly feel like it to me) but all these styli are interchangeable or you can get the Lamy digital EMR pen / Staedtler Norris one.
    Weight - I haven't tried the Samsung Flex but my zbook is heavy, no getting around that. Not horribly heavy - but just be aware it's not going for "thin and light."

    The other things, the Galaxy Book Flex will come up to 15.6 inches and has a QLED screen and is 1080p while the zbook is a 4K 14(ish) inch screen.

    Sadly HP have shown no signs of updating the zbook while the Flex is an update of sorts from the 15.6 Note Pro and Samsung are likely to keep updating this range.
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