Fujitsu Australia Ltd LifeBook P7010

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Fujitsu Australia Ltd LifeBook P7010

Pros

  • Good battery life, lightweight, multiformat DVD burner

Cons

  • Small screen, flawed keyboard, sealed hard drive

Bottom Line

If you consider battery life and light weight the most important laptop criteria, give the LifeBook P7010 a close look. You could probably live with this 1.5-kilogram unit's less-than-perfect keyboard and screen.

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With impressive battery life, an integrated multiformat DVD drive, and a modest weight of 1.5 kilograms, the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010 attains near-perfection in at least three important areas. It even includes a biometric fingerprint reader for extra security. Unfortunately, an undersize screen, flawed keyboard and sealed hard drive would impel me not to jump at this stylish black-and-silver unit. In addition, Bluetooth fans should be aware that short-range wireless communications technology is not an option.

Very long battery life--5 hours and 18 minutes on one charge in our tests--is the P7010's forte. Greedy for more? According to Fujitsu, supplementing the main battery with a secondary battery you can swap into the modular bay yields up to 10 hours of outlet-free computing (we did not test this claim). The internal bay has a third optional use: it can accommodate an included hollow placeholder module to bring the P7010's weight down to 1.3 kilograms.

Equipped with a 1.2GHz Pentium M Ultra Low Voltage 753 chip and 512MB of memory, the P7010 will never match a full-size notebook's processing power. Even so, its speed was fine for an ultraportable, earning a WorldBench 5 score of 63. The P7010 ably handled mainstream applications and even a DVD movie.

The P7010 comes with a complete set of connections--many protected from dust by individual covers--including FireWire and TV-out ports, plus separate CompactFlash and SD/Memory Stick slots for easy data sharing with your other electronic devices. The design is cleverly compact, with the power button, status panel and stereo speakers embedded in the screen's oversize bar hinge. The speakers are situated so that you can listen to CDs with the screen closed--and the P7010 is loud for a little laptop. A Wi-Fi switch sits handily on the front of the case. The ultra-thin bay tray is difficult to spot in its location beneath the left-hand side ports, but the prominent eject button is easy to find.

With practice, I could be productive on the P7010's small keyboard, but typing demands some effort. The P7010's Page Up and Page Down keys require combination keystrokes, and some of the punctuation keys are half-size and difficult to hit. On the other hand, the P7010 has an easy-to-use touchpad, which many people prefer to an eraserhead (TrackPoint).

The mouse buttons sit farther apart than on most laptops (another keyboard quirk I didn't like) to accommodate your choice of a scroll button or a fingerprint sensor. Once you've enrolled a finger, you can replace clunky multiple user names and passwords with a single biometric swipe. I had no trouble with the finger sensor on a previous incarnation of the P7010 that I tested last year; this time it took me ten tries before I could convince the Softex OmniPass software to enrol my index finger. A co-worker with the magic touch succeeded after two tries.

The P7010's 10.6" latchless screen is bright and readable, if you don't mind very small text and icons. Screen elements otherwise looked smooth.

If the P7010's sealed 80GB hard drive ever fails, you'll have to leave the notebook at a service centre. On the plus side, you can upgrade RAM yourself. Two 256MB micro-DIMMs--memory chips 65 percent of the size of standard laptop DIMMs--sit in an easily accessible bottom compartment protected by a panel held in by two small screws.

The P7010 is well documented in a detailed printed user manual. A downloadable electronic version of the manual is available from the vendor's Web site; but without hyperlinks, it's hard to navigate. The P7010 comes with Microsoft Works installed.

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