Fujitsu LifeBook P770 notebook

A fully featured 12in Fujitsu laptop with a low-voltage Core i7 CPU

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Fujitsu Australia LifeBook P770
  • Fujitsu Australia LifeBook P770
  • Fujitsu Australia LifeBook P770
  • Fujitsu Australia LifeBook P770

Pros

  • Very light, fully featured, built-in optical drive, good specs

Cons

  • Feels cramped, touchpad sometimes not accurate, screen squeaks

Bottom Line

Fujitsu's LifeBook P770 offers good performance and plenty of features in a small, 12in body. It weighs only 1.4kg and is ideal for users who want a small, very mobile laptop that doesn't compromise much when it comes to features.

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Fujitsu's LifeBook P770 is designed for anyone after a small yet fully featured laptop. It's a 12.1in ultraportable notebook with a Core i7 CPU and 4GB of RAM, as well as plenty of ports and a built-in optical drive.

The LifeBook P770's biggest drawcard is the light 1.4kg weight, which makes it a cinch to cart to and from work every day, especially if you rely on public transport, and it's only 280x240x30mm (WxDxH). With a tiny size comes a compromise in comfort: the spill-resistant keyboard feels cramped to type on and the multi-touch touchpad is small (68x38mm) and sometimes not completely responsive. But in saying that, you do get used to the notebook's size and adjust your typing style accordingly.

LifeBook P770: Specifications and performance

The P770 is one of only a few notebooks so far to make use of the Core i7 CPU in such a small frame — the Alienware M11x and Toshiba's Portege R700 are others — but unlike Toshiba, Fujitsu (like Alienware) has gone for an ultra-low-voltage CPU to keep the heat production to a minimum.

The Intel Core i7-640UM mobile CPU gives the LifeBook P770 a relatively subdued speed of 1.2GHz, with Turbo Boost transparently taking it up to 2.26GHz. It has the ability to process up to four software threads simultaneously via two physical cores, plus Hyper-Threading. This makes it perfect for multitasking, and applications that are multi-threaded will also benefit . Surrounding the CPU is 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM (the notebook supports a maximum of 8GB, although only one memory slot is quickly accessible via the bottom panel), a 500GB, 5400rpm hard drive, and integrated Intel HD graphics.

The performance of the ultra-low-voltage Core i7 isn't spectacular, but it gives the P770 plenty of speed for office applications and media processing. You can even use it to rip DVDs if you're patient — our Xvid encoding test took 1hr 43min to complete, which is 21min slower than the mainstream, full voltage Core i5-430M CPU in the MSI CX420 14in notebook. The Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests took 1min 33sec and 1min 31sec respectively; these results are about 30sec slower than a notebook with a mainstream, full voltage Core i5 CPU. The Fujitsu MJA2500BH G2, 5400rpm, 500GB hard drive recorded a paltry 19.62 megabytes per second in our tests. A fast solid-state drive would be a nice option for this notebook.

We think that if you want excellent performance from a small package, and you aren't married to the idea of a 12in unit, you're better off looking at Fujitsu's $2299 LifeBook SH760, which has a full voltage Core i7-620M CPU, a 13.3in screen, and only weighs 1.6kg.

The Core i7 is just one option for the P770 though, and with it the notebook costs $2799. If you don't mind putting up with slower (but still decent) performance, you could opt for a Core i3 version, which drops the price to a more respectable $1899. You can also buy the P770 with a built-in 3G module that will work with a SIM card from any carrier, and that will add a lot more to the price: $3099 for the Core i7 version and $2599 for the Core i3 version.

LifeBook P770: Battery life and Eco mode

The battery in the LifeBook P770 is a 6-cell, 5800 milliamp hour (mAh) model, and it is awkward to remove from the chassis. It doesn't slide out of the back, but instead needs to be lifted when you unlock it. In our video rundown test, in which we enable Wi-Fi, turn up the brightness, disable power management and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the battery lasted 3hr 20min. It's a respectable time for a 12in notebook and it will last even longer when Eco mode is enabled. Eco mode can be inflicted on the P770 by pressing the shortcut button on the panel above the keyboard.

In Eco mode, the volume is muted, the optical drive and Ethernet port are disabled, the screen's refresh rate is reduced and the brightness is turned almost all the way down. Using this mode, the same video rundown test lasted 4hr 10min, which is a decent improvement. However, it's not a setting to use if you want to watch videos while on the plane — you'll want some sound, and the low brightness will make it practically impossible to see the video. Likewise, you can't use Eco mode in a well-lit office area as the low brightness will make reflections a lot more visible on the glossy screen.

Basically, Eco mode is a harsh setting and you'll want to adjust the brightness if you want to use it in a productive way. Annoyingly enough, if you enter Eco mode while the notebook is plugged in, and then disconnect the power cable, the power scheme will still change. You have to remember to unplug the notebook before hitting the Eco button. It's worth noting that at one point during Eco mode, the mouse stopped functioning properly. It would only move across half the screen. We had to reboot to get it to work properly.

LifeBook P770: Build quality and style

The build quality of the LifeBook P770's chassis feels good and you can pick it up from the side where the optical drive is installed without the notebook's body bending significantly. Both the chassis and the panels are made from magnesium alloy, which in addition to strengthening the notebook helps keep the weight down. The only issue we have with the build quality is with the screen, which makes a squeaking sound every time it's moved up or down. This can get annoying and it makes the notebook seem like it's been shoddily put together when it hasn't.

A strong emphasis on design is evident all around the LifeBook P770. Not only does it have chrome trimmings, which break up the overall dark styling, it also has a textured palm rest. Furthermore, the lid is glossy and the panel above the keyboard has a sparkling, glossy finish.

Conclusion

There's no doubt that the LifeBook P770 is an excellent choice if you want a very light 12in notebook that also has a built-in optical drive and good performance. It's equipped with all the interfaces you're likely to need, such as three USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, D-Sub (VGA), microphone and headphone jacks, Gigabit Ethernet, a fingerprint reader, an SD card slot, and an ExpressCard/54 slot. You also get a webcam, 802.11n dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, if you're after true performance in a small, well-featured package, you should consider the LifeBook SH760 instead, even though it's slightly bigger.

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