Fujitsu Stylistic M532 £476
20th Jul 2012 | 13:40
Fujitsu's business tablet lacks many exclusively business features
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After Fujitsu's unimpressive tablet debut with the business-focused Stylistic Q550, we weren't holding out much hope for the Japanese company's follow-up, the Fujitsu Stylistic M532. As it turns out, we needn't have worried. Fujitsu has executed a complete U-turn and given us a tablet that can compete with heavyweights such as the Toshiba AT200, Asus Transformer Pad 300 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
Although the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 is aimed primarily at business users, Fujitsu has dropped the Windows 7 operating system of the Stylistic Q550 and opted for Android this time around. There could be no other way.
Although Windows 7 offers by far the widest number of business applications, its performance on a tablet compared to Android is like comparing Sunday league football with the Premier League.
Not only is the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 offering Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich right out of the box, it also has an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor tucked inside running the whole show, 1GB RAM, 32GB SSD storage and an 8MP rear-facing camera.
So, when it comes to performance, Fujitsu has certainly made sure the Stylistic M532 has got the minerals.
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This device is aimed at taking on the top tier of Android tablets, and the price reflects that. Although the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 has yet to be released, Fujitsu told us to expect a full retail price of £476 (around $745), which puts it competitively among the likes of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Asus Transformer Prime, not to mention the new iPad.
Of course, the real question remains: is it worth it? Well, we've spent some serious time with Fujitsu's new baby in order to find out exactly that.
Fujitsu has opted for a 10.1-inch form factor with the Fujitsu Stylistic M532, and has kept the chassis down to a pleasingly slim 8.6mm (0.34 inches). That's as thick as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, and the new iPad - at 9.4mm thick - is portly by comparison.
Luckily, there's no hidden weight anywhere, and the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 tips the scales at only 560g (1.23lbs). In one hand this weight becomes noticeable after a time, but if you're using both it's light as a feather.
The back of the tablet has been given a soft, rubberised plastic coating, similar to the one found on the reverse of the BlackBerry PlayBook. This doesn't look as attractive as the aluminium of the new iPad, or even budget machines such as the Disgo 9104, but we can't argue with the functionality. The rubbery black coating is easy to grip, and you won't find it getting covered with smudgy fingerprints, either. That's just the screen.
There's only so much you can do with the aesthetics of a tablet, but Fujitsu has thrown a little of its trademark red onto the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 by way of a trim around the outside. The jury's out as to whether this cheapens the look of the tablet, but in our opinion it adds a good design touch that helps to differentiate it from the legions of similar devices.
Thanks to Android 4.0's soft key arrangement, there aren't any physical buttons on the front of the Fujitsu Stylistic M532, and this really helps make it look better. The bezel isn't tiny, but then it isn't massive either – just big enough for the Fujitsu branding at the bottom of the tablet and the front-facing 2.0MP camera lens at the top.
In fact, the only buttons you'll find on the entire tablet are the on/off switch on the top of the device and the volume up/down on the right-hand side.
Below the volume controls is the micro USB port and space for a micro SIM card and microSD storage expansion. Yes, that's right – the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 features both 3G connectivity and microSD storage. These are two features often overlooked on the majority of tablets, and the fact that Fujitsu has included them is enough to merit a slow, appreciative nod of the head on our part.
Even without the microSD card, you still get 32GB of SSD storage inside the Fujitsu Stylistic M532, which is generous for the price.
The only other connection, besides the 3.5mm headphone jack, is the Fujitsu proprietary port on the base of the tablet, used for charging and the like. The hope is that, à la Apple, we might see some docking stations and other peripherals that take advantage of this before the year is through.
Given that the screen is about the most important part of any tablet, how does the Fujitsu's hold up to scrutiny? Quite well, as it happens. The 10.1-inch Gorilla Glass display has a 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and excellent viewing angles. All the .MOV, .AVI and .MKV files we threw at it played perfectly, and we were able to settle down for a couple of hours with several HD episodes of Game of Thrones.
However, as ever, the glossy screen ran into trouble when we watched in bright light. And although the brightness on the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 can be boosted, it wasn't enough for outside viewing.
Even so, you'll get a lot of viewing time from the Fujitsu Stylistic M532. Fujitsu quotes the lithium polymer battery inside the tablet will give you 9.5 hours of usage. We streamed HD video continuously from a full charge until the tablet gave up after 283 minutes.
Given that streaming video is a demanding task, especially with full connectivity and performance settings, you should be able to get longer from this tablet with more conservative use.
The power itself comes courtesy of the aforementioned Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core processor and the 1GB of RAM that keeps Android 4.0 running smoothly – but more of that on the next page.
Interface and performance
Although some manufacturers choose to add custom skins and functions to the open-source Android operating system, Fujitsu has left it largely untouched on the Fujitsu Stylistic M532.
In our opinion this is a sensible idea - by ignoring a custom skin and various bells and whistles in favour of "going native", Fujitsu has left less for the processor to crunch through, and the result is an extremely swift, satisfying experience.
All that has been added, besides the red Fujitsu wallpaper, are a few business-focused apps that reaffirm the target audience for this tablet. The most important of these is a full copy of Norton Tablet Security, complete with a year's subscription.
The app includes an anti-malware scanner, which will make sure any apps you download aren't harbouring embedded viruses - something that is unfortunately now a factor in the Google Play market. The app also offers you web protection for safe browsing and Norton Anti-Theft - which you can access from any web point in order to track your device if it is lost or stolen.
Although you can get this app on any Android tablet, the free year's subscription is a definite sweetener that Fujitsu has thrown in.
Given the tendency (especially from budget manufacturers) to cram hardware full of unnecessary software, the blank canvas of the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 is refreshing. You can press and hold any app you've downloaded to place it on one of the five home screens, and the usual ICS widgets are available for you to customise the tablet any which way you want.
If you plan to use this tablet for a lot of typing, then you'll be glad to hear the on-screen ICS keyboard is as intuitive and comfortable as ever and the reassuring buzz of haptic feedback is nicely balanced for each touch.
During day-to-day usage, the operating system was snappy and responsive. Apps loaded up quickly and we didn't have any trouble with unexpected crashes or force closes.
Another good point of usability was the prompt response from the accelerometer when we swapped from using the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 in landscape to portrait mode. Where we did notice a delay was when loading up HD video from the native YouTube app.
The Fujitsu Stylistic M532 packs the standard Android browser with Flash compatibility that will benefit anyone who routinely cruises the web or social networks looking for video. However, if you fancy a change from the standard Google offering, you can head to the Google Play store and download any number of alternatives.
The Android browser features tabbed browsing so you can easily swap between several different pages and at any time use the Fujitsu Stylistic M532's multi-touch support to pinch and zoom in on text or pictures.
The Fujitsu Stylistic M532 uses 802.11n Wi-Fi but, as we already mentioned, it also boasts 3G support if you fancy browsing on the move. You'll have to kit the tablet out with a SIM card and data plan to use the 3G, but especially for business users this is an invaluable addition that means you're not at the mercy of coffee shops or hotel lobbies when out and about with this tablet.
Bluetooth connectivity is also present and accounted for, meaning you can attach wireless peripherals to the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 such as headsets for VOIP use.
Movies, music and books
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Even hard working business users need to kick back with a good book or a movie every once in a while, and thankfully the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 isn't all-work-and-no-play. The Tegra 3 processor has been developed especially with graphics in mind, and this translates well when watching video.
Of course, the Full HD resolution of the 10.1-inch Super TFT screen doesn't hurt either. We ran plenty of 1080p content in various file formats, including .MP4, .MKV and .AVI, and the playback was nice and smooth.
There are also plenty of other players, such as MX Player, available from Google Play. The native video player, Google Movies, also gives you access to an online plethora of movies to rent and download.
Unfortunately, there's no micro HDMI port for hooking the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 up to an external display, so for that you'll need to get either a micro USB adaptor or cradle that attaches to the proprietary port on the bottom of the tablet.
There is of course YouTube to take advantage of, but strangely the only time we really saw the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 struggling was trying to load up some HD video from the pre-installed YouTube app. This took an abnormally long time and required a refresh on one or two occasions.
Music is played through the stock Android player, although - like the video player - there is plenty of choice available on Google Play if you don't like the look of Android's own offering.
The Fujitsu Stylistic M532 has twin speakers on the rear of the tablet and, while volume is quite impressive, we noticed a tinny quality when we had it up at maximum. Our hope is that, given the proprietary port on the bottom of the tablet, we could be seeing some iPad-style audio docks in the future that would boost the musical potential of this tablet considerably. Until such time, though, there's nothing to stop you investing in a decent pair of headphones.
Books are catered for by Google Reader, and you can get many classics for free. Text was clear and sharp on the screen, and thanks to the pinch-and-zoom function you can resize text to whatever size you want. It will support the ePub, PDF and TXT formats, although Amazon's Kindle app is also available on Google Play, which we think is the better option.
One of the pre-installed apps is CyberLink's PowerDVD Mobile app, which gives you a central destination from which to access your photos, videos, music and the camera application. There's also an attractive wood-panelled motif that adds a bit of class to the proceedings.
Apps and games
Given the business credentials of the Fujitsu Stylistic M532, there aren't any games pre-installed on the tablet. The closest you'll get is a shortcut to Nvidia's Tegra Zone, where the chip manufacturer showcases games optimised for its quad core processor.
The good news is that if you want to use this for gaming, the hardware is more than up to the task. We tested out demanding 3D games such as the excellent TempleRun, and the graphics were sharp while the gameplay was fluid. We can't ask for much more than that.
There isn't much in the way of apps installed on the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 to begin with, but there are a few business apps, alongside the Norton Tablet Security app, that are worth a mention.
ThinkFree Office is a mobile office app that enables you to create or edit text documents, spreadsheets or presentations. The rival office apps on the Google Play market, such as QuickOffice or OfficeSuite, will set you back a tenner - so having this full program installed as standard is a nice tip of the hat from Fujitsu.
Citrix Receiver and VMWare View Client are both Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) apps that enable you to access remote desktops with your tablet. Although we're reviewing the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 from a consumer-led standpoint, there's every possibility that you could be handed this device by your IT manager.
In which case, you might want to attach it to your office computer to access your documents while away from your desk. These two apps will enable you to do that, although registration is required.
You also have Adobe Reader, for reading PDF files and the usual run of native Android apps such as Gmail, Google+, Google Maps and others.
Whether or not we really need a rear-facing camera on a tablet is still a debatable matter. Do you really want to hold up a 10.1-inch slate when your 4.3-inch smartphone most likely is packing a better camera anyway?
Regardless of that argument (although, feel free to add your opinions on this issue in the comments box below), Fujitsu has gone ahead and furnished the Stylistic M532 with a rear-facing 8MP camera.
In terms of settings, you have the bare minimum of functions thrown in for good measure, enabling you to tinker with the white balance or the exposure, as well as zoom in or turn the flash on or off. There aren't any effects such as sepia or black and white, so if you want to get creative with your shots you'll need to download Instagram-style apps from Google Play.
Whatever your opinions on tablet photography, the 2MP front-facing camera is likely to prove more useful. Detail is a touch grainy, but if you're using this tablet for business you'll appreciate the ability to hold video calls with the office. Or, Skype back home when you're out of town for work.
Battery life and benchmarks
Inside the slim chassis of the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 is a 3,170mAh battery that, according to Fujitsu, will handle 8.4 hours of video playback.
During general usage, the battery lasted remarkably well, even though on paper, it isn't as strong as the 9,800mAh battery inside the Acer Iconia Tab A510, the 7,000mAh battery of the Asus Transformer Prime or the 12,000mAh of the new iPad 3.
Alas, when we subjected it to a constant loop of HD video from YouTube, the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 gave out after 283 minutes, which is effectively just under five hours.
We benchmarked the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 and it came out similarly, matching its other Tegra 3 rivals such as the Asus Transformer Pad 3000 and the Acer Iconia Tab A510.
The Fujitsu Stylistic M532 is billed as a business tablet that you can take home with you. Or alternatively, a home device you can take to the office. But we're not really sure what makes it a business tablet, aside from a couple of pre-installed apps. The VDI apps can be downloaded for free from Google Play anyway, so all you're left with is Norton Tablet Security and ThinkFree Office.
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It's nice to have 3G connectivity, but again, this isn't the only tablet that offers it.
Because of the open source nature of Android, there's always the option for businesses to load in-house bespoke software onto the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 and distribute it to employees. Should this scenario occur inside your company then thank your benevolent employer, because this is a fantastic tablet.
Why Fujitsu feels the need to market it as a business device is a mystery.
The design and build quality of this tablet is so much better than the unwieldy Stylistic Q550. Fujitsu has crafted a sleek and accomplished device with bags of power, thanks to the Tegra 3 processor and an impressive Full HD Gorilla Glass display.
We're big fans of Android, and the fact that Fujitsu has left well enough alone really works here – there's barely any clutter to wade through, and as a result, performance is silky smooth.
Also, even if you don't use them often, the inclusion of an 8MP rear-facing camera and 3G compatibility are definite positives.
We understand that certain compromises have to be made to keep the chassis as slim as it is, and that makes it easy to forgive the Fujitsu for its slight lack of ports, but we would have appreciated some sort of HDMI connectivity alongside the micro USB, rather than having to rely on an adaptor.
Slightly better audio would also be on our wish list for any follow-up tablet from Fujitsu – although volume wasn't really a problem, there was a tinny edge when we really pushed it up.
Aside from these basic quibbles, there isn't much wrong with the Fujitsu Stylistic M532, and it handled just about everything we threw at it with aplomb.
A great Android offering from Fujitsu, the Stylistic M532 dutifully ticks each box on our what-we-want-from-a-tablet list. There's slick performance from the Tegra 3 processor and Android Ice Cream Sandwich. The tough build quality and slim design are certainly standout highlights.
It's true that it faces tough competition from other Android heavyweights such as the Acer Iconia Tab A510, Asus Transformer Prime and the Toshiba AT300, but the Fujitsu is more than capable of giving these tablets a run for their money.
Fujitsu might take some heat by opting for a proprietary connection on the bottom of the tablet, but if it follows up with some killer accessories, then we can see the appeal of the Fujitsu Stylistic M532 growing even more.
It's unlikely that the business angle will draw iPad customers away from their devices and yes, there are a few issues we've outlined above – even battery life could be slightly better – but these are tiny blemishes on what is a very good piece of tech.
In short, whether or not you plan to use this for business, it's still among the top Android tablets out there, and well worth considering.