Fujitsu LifeBook P1610
The Fujitsu LifeBook P1610 combines the best features of ultramobile PCs (tiny size, easy-to-use touch screen) and convertible tablets (an attached keyboard, laptop-caliber performance). As with most hybrid technologies, however, the LifeBook P1610 forces you to make some compromises: its tiny keyboard makes extensive typing a challenge, and--though we'd like to carry the P1610 with us all day long--its battery life isn't enough to last through a full day of work. Also, the P1610's tiny case can't accommodate the latest dual-core processors, leaving it to trail behind larger convertibles, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablet, when it comes to performance. Despite these faults, the LifeBook P1610 remains the best choice on the market for users who want more features than a smart phone in a still-portable size. If you can carry a little extra bulk and weight, though, we highly recommend the faster (and less expensive) ThinkPad X60 Tablet.
About the size of a thick paperback, the LifeBook P1610 measures 9 inches wide, 6.5 inches deep (7.5 inches with the optional extended-life battery), and 1.3 inches thick. At 2.2 pounds, it's by far one of the smallest and lightest convertible tablets we've seen; the (also small) Lenovo ThinkPad X60 Tablet weighs 1.8 pounds more, while the keyboard-free Samsung Q1 ultramobile weighs a scant 1.7 pounds. With its candy-bar-sized AC adapter, the Fujitsu LifeBook P1610 hits the road at a featherweight 2.9 pounds. By virtue of its light weight, the LifeBook P1610 almost feels like a toy when you hold it in your hand; on further inspection, however, the silver-and-black case feels sturdily constructed. Of course, with a case this small, you'll sacrifice some creature comforts. Typing lengthy documents on the tablet's tiny keys will certainly fatigue your hands, though the keyboard will suffice for typing quick notes or e-mail. The tablet's textured gray pointing stick proved responsive, and the small mouse buttons and the middle scroll button were adequate.
The LifeBook P1610's small 8.9-inch (diagonal) touch screen display, featuring a sharp 1,280x768 native resolution, provides just enough space for basic productivity tasks. For example, the display has room for 19 columns and 34 rows on the default Excel spreadsheet. If you have weak eyesight, though, you'll likely struggle with a screen this small; even our (relatively) strong eyes were fatigued after a few hours of use. While we've seen some tablet displays wobble on their single hinge, the LifeBook P1610's screen stays firmly in place. We also like that you can swivel the screen in either direction to convert from laptop to tablet. With the P1610 in tablet mode, the screen space is similar to that of a steno pad, and five buttons along the display bezel help you navigate without a mouse or keyboard. The included passive stylus, made of lightweight plastic, closely resembles a Palm's in length and width. Though it was serviceable, we'd prefer a weightier, more pen-like stylus, such as the one found on the Gateway M285-E. Like its predecessor, the LifeBook P1610 runs slightly warm, but its temperature is not uncomfortable for extended handheld use.
Despite its small size, the LifeBook P1610 packs in the ports and the connections you'd expect to find on the smallest laptops: one VGA and two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, and both PC Card and SD card slots (though it lacks a slot for the latest ExpressCards). You can get online via modem, Gigabit Ethernet, or 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi. There's also a Trusted Platform Module, which is a microcontroller that stores passwords and the like for security, and a biometric fingerprint reader on the display bezel that lets you log in without a keyboard. Those features are nearly identical to the ones on the Samsung Q1; by comparison, the larger ThinkPad X60 Tablet includes all these plus a mini-FireWire plug, one more USB 2.0 port, and optional WWAN connectivity. As do many convertible tablets, the LifeBook P1510D lacks a built-in optical drive.
Unlike most tablets, the LifeBook P1610 runs Windows XP Professional. Fujitsu preloads the P1610 with a number of tablet-friendly programs, including RitePen handwriting-recognition software and the EverNote Plus note-taking application. The included DialKeys program, which we used to see only on LifeBooks but which has since become standard software on all UMPCs, lets you choose from six types of onscreen keyboards for entering text with your fingers.
Our LifeBook P1610 test configuration cost $2,419 for a 1.2GHz Intel Core Solo U1400 processor, 1GB of quick 533MHz RAM, a massive (for a laptop of this size) 80GB hard drive spinning at a sluggish 4,200rpm, and an integrated Mobile Intel 945GM Express graphics chip. The tiny tablet performed admirably on CNET Labs' mobile benchmarks, matching or besting the performance of larger ultraportables built around the same processor, such as the Fujitsu LifeBook Q2010 and the Sony VAIO VGN-TXN15P/W. Pitted against the $2,099 ThinkPad X60 Tablet, though, the LifeBook P1610 moves like a slowpoke; it just couldn't keep up with the ThinkPad's dual-core processor. That said, the Fujitsu seemed swift enough while taking handwritten notes and pounding out memos, two of the most likely activities for such a small tablet.
Unfortunately, the LifeBook P1610 is cursed by the same failing as most ultramobile PCs: its standard battery, which the company claims will last 3 hours, 15 minutes, fell just short of 3 hours in our battery drain tests. With such a portable design, we would want the P1610 to last closer to a full 8 hours; certainly the Sony VAIO VGN-TXN15P/W (9 hours, 42 minutes) and Fujitsu's own LifeBook Q2010 (7 hours, 38 minutes) deliver on that promise. Users who want more time between charges can purchase Fujitsu's $116 high-capacity battery, which the company claims will last 7 hours (CNET did not test this battery).
Fujitsu backs the LifeBook P1610 with a one-year warranty, which is becoming standard for both consumer and business laptops (manufacturers used to offer at least a three-year warranty offer for business systems). You can extend Fujitsu's warranty to three years for an additional $180, and you can add three years of onsite service for $150. In a nod to the likelihood that you'll carry the LifeBook P1610 everywhere, the company also offers an LCD-repair warranty (a one-year warranty costs $150, and a three-year costs $383). Fujitsu provides 24/7 toll-free phone support for the life of your warranty, and a support Web site offers live chat with a technician, as well as the expected FAQs, driver downloads, and product manuals.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)