Fujitsu notebook: Business traveler advantage

Lightweight and long-lived battery power make for practical computers.


Published: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 11:25 p.m.

With notebook computer configurations now ranging from tiny ultra portables to hefty desktop PC replacements, it's clear that one size was never meant to fit all. After a few weeks of trying out the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D, I was convinced it didn't fit me.

But then I found myself in the role of a business traveler, flying around California to give PowerPoint presentations. Suddenly, the LifeBook's cramped keyboard and 10.6-inch screen became less important than its long battery life, small size and abundance of connection options.

Weighing just 3.3 pounds and smaller than some magazines, the Fujitsu didn't cause my shoulder to ache while standing in long airport lines. It easily slid into a bag for easy carrying onto crowded flights, where I could use it without invading my seatmates' space.

Its built-in wireless radio understood all flavors of the Wi-Fi standard: the ubiquitous 802.11b, the speedier 802.11g and the less common 802.11a that's more likely to be found in business settings.

And its long battery life - roughly five hours - meant I could surf the Web during long waits at the airport and still have plenty of juice left to do work while airborne.

The LifeBook starts at $1,699, after a $100 rebate, though the highest-end unit I tested runs $2,099 with the rebate, which expires at the end of next month. Other variations are available, too.

At the heart of the system is Intel Corp.'s low-voltage Pentium M. Though it runs at just 1.1 gigahertz, considerably slower than chips found in most of today's desktops, which top out at 3.8 GHz, the Pentium M didn't disappoint.

The processor uses less electricity and kicks off less heat while performing like a chip that runs twice its speed. As an added bonus, the system can be used on a lap without getting uncomfortably warm.

The system is not meant for the latest video games, but it was more than sufficient for surfing the Web, handling e-mail and running business programs. My animation-heavy PowerPoint presentation ran smoothly.

Other LifeBook features also helped make my temporary stint as a business traveler more productive.

It offers a number of built-in ports for connecting everything from FireWire and USB devices to memory cards for digital cameras. Besides the standard monitor connection, it can connect with televisions and video cables using an S-video cable.

That said, the LifeBook's size did have some drawbacks.

It took me several weeks before my large hands adjusted to its small keyboard. The display, though incredibly sharp, is quite small, making tiny characters difficult to read.

The notebook, otherwise sturdy, also has a number of difficult-to-open plastic doors for accessing many of the ports. The hinges, which appear to be just plastic, look as though they could easily be torn off.

And though I was originally drawn to the Fujitsu because of a built-in fingerprint reader, I found it unreliable.

After training it to read my fingerprints, it let me access Windows and secure Web sites provided I wasn't in a hurry. If I needed something urgently, it invariably couldn't read my print, forcing me to spend time logging in the old fashioned way.

Overall, though, I found the features outweigh the problems, particularly when you need a laptop that weighs very little.

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