So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Fujitsu LifeBook P1620
- Tablet-convertible notebook, runs cool and is very quiet, very light
- Can be difficult to type on, temporary image retention was noticed, no optical drive
For mobile professionals who want to forget they're even carrying a tablet-convertible notebook, the P1620 is a valid candidate. It's not perfect, but it has enough features to be a useful office productivity tool while on the road.
Price$ 2,699.00 (AUD)
Unless your name is Mini Me, this ultra-portable, tablet-convertible notebook might be a tad inconvenient to use. Its keys are approximately 1.4cm wide and the entire keyboard is 22.5cm wide, so it's almost impossible to type more than a few words at a time without hitting the wrong key. Thankfully, the notebook can be turned into a tablet, so you can write on its passive 8.9in screen and copy your text to an open document.
The screen doesn't pick up movements and gestures with perfect accuracy — especially when writing in cursive — but it does a decent-enough job. Once you get used to it, you can write fairly successfully using the supplied pen; it will also recognise human touch. This wasn't a problem: we could lean on the screen comfortably without affecting the pen input.
Inside the tiny chassis of the P1620, Fujitsu has installed an Intel Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage U7600 CPU, which runs at 1.2GHz. Coupled with 1GB of DDR2 RAM and a slow (4200rpm) 100GB (92GB formatted capacity) hard drive, it ran our WorldBench 6 benchmark without any problems. Of course, it was relatively slow — it scored just 49 — but it showed that it's got enough guts to handle most office productivity applications very easily. Because it's a dual-core CPU, you will be able to work effectively on two applications at the same time.
Don't bank on this unit being able to handle 3-D graphics, as it only has an integrated Intel GMA950 graphics adapter, but rest assured it will play video files without a problem. In fact, if you load a few of your favourite video files onto it, you can watch them while flying from Sydney to Adelaide — or on any other flight under two hours — because the P1620 lasted one hour and 47 minutes in our worst-case scenario battery test.
The unit is only 23cm wide, 16.5cm deep and 2cm thick (when the lid is up), so it doesn't have a built-in optical drive. It weighs about 1kg without its power supply. Its keyboard is spill-proof (you have to switch it off and turn the unit upside down if you spill liquids on it) and its base feels very solid to the touch; it's almost like you can squeeze it as hard as possible and it won't break. The screen's casing is also very hard.
The screen is attached to the base through a bi-directional hinge, so you can turn it either left or right to enter tablet mode. Unfortunately, it's a transmissive screen, which means that it can't be viewed comfortably outdoors unless you're in a very well-shaded area. We also noticed some temporary image retention, which was visible on predominantly dark screens, so you shouldn't leave the screen on for too long with a static image if you plan on viewing dark images afterwards.
For expansion, there is one type II PC Card slot, not an ExpressCard slot, as well as two USB 2.0 ports. An SD memory card slot, and gigabit Ethernet and 56Kbps modem ports are available, in addition to a D-Sub monitor port and microphone and headphone jacks. Wireless connectivity is by way of Bluetooth 2.0 for peripherals and 802.11a/b/g for networking.
Fujitsu has installed Windows Vista Business on this model, as well as its own diagnostic and display manager software. Prior to using the P1620 as a tablet, be sure to visit the Control Panel and calibrate its pen, as it was horribly out of alignment on our test model.
Despite being a little hard to use, the P1620's size is a virtue: it can be carried inconspicuously in a small bag and it will provide more than two hours of run-time away from an outlet if a conservative power-management scheme is employed.
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