Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D
Editor's note: We have changed the ratings in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Find out more here.
Very few laptops in the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010D's weight class can compete with its set of features, which reflect a careful, best-in-class compromise between size and function. Our test configuration, which goes for $2,149 (as of November 2004), features a 10.6-inch (diagonal) wide-aspect screen with a crisp, 1,280x768 native resolution that creates quite a bit of screen real estate, though text looks small. The screen shone so brightly that we could work in a sunny breakfast nook. The mostly black plastic shell measures 10.25 inches wide, 7.75 inches deep, and almost 1.5 inches thick, placing it at the bulkier end of the ultraportable spectrum. The LifeBook P7010D weighs 3.3 pounds on its own and 4.1 with the AC adapter; that's the same as the $2,500 (as of November 2004) , which features a bigger form factor and a 14.1-inch screen. The notebook's quiet and responsive keyboard is also small and crowded--in particular, the comma and period keys are half-width (but the Windows key is full size), and the spacebar is only about four letters wide. Still, we found the P7010D light and small enough to carry in one hand while typing and working the cursor with the other. One minor criticism: the lid lacks a clasp and could become floppy with wear.
One of the LifeBook P7010D's more notable features is a biometric fingerprint reader. You can set it up so that you no longer have to type in passwords on Web sites or log in to the OS, but rather you can stroke your finger across the scanner for access. Setting up the included Softex OmniPass fingerprint-reading software went smoothly for us, but we found the sensor somewhat persnickety: the system would balk if we didn't carefully run a finger in an exactly perpendicular motion down the reader.
The LifeBook P7010D is loaded with features and connections--you'll find just about everything a full-size notebook would have, including three slots for Secure Digital/Memory Stick, CompactFlash, and Type II PC cards; a four-pin FireWire, an S-Video, and two USB 2.0 ports; Ethernet, modem, and an external switch to turn the a/b/g Wi-Fi transceiver off (to conserve power); and a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive in a hot-swappable bay. However, with the main battery monopolizing the laptop's back edge, a well-connected LifeBook P7010D will have a lot of messy wires poking out from the sides. (We think it's worth the mess.) Our test unit came preloaded with Microsoft Windows XP Pro and included Microsoft Works 7.0 (a basic home productivity suite) and Sonic Solutions' Record Now for burning CDs and DVDs.
The Lifebook P7010D has unremarkable components, but Fujitsu tuned them well. Our test model featured a 1.1GHz Pentium M, 512MB of DDR memory, a 60GB hard drive spinning at 4,200rpm, and an integrated Intel graphics controller. In CNET Labs' tests, the Fujitsu sped ahead of the $3,000 Sony VAIO X505, which is similarly endowed but more than a pound lighter. The LifeBook P7010D also fared well against Panasonic's thin-and-light . In CNET's battery life test, the Fujitsu chugged along for almost five hours--about twice as long as the VAIO X505 but a few minutes shy of the ToughBook Y2's awesome 5 hours 18 minutes.
Fujitsu backs the P7010D with an industry-standard one-year warranty that includes neither prepaid shipping nor onsite service; we find this somewhat cheap for a product that costs more than $2,000. An extra year of warranty costs $100, two extra years cost $180, and onsite plans are also available. IBM, by contrast, provides three years for its ThinkPad T41, which costs several hundred dollars less. Fujitsu's tolerance for bad pixels is reassuringly low: more than one bad pixel in the center of your screen or three bad pixels anywhere qualifies your unit for replacement. Fujitsu offers 24/7 telephone tech support, which remains free for the life of the product. The company's Web site offers a FAQ page that lists only a couple dozen answers spread across many LifeBook models, but the site provides a discussion board, a place to e-mail technicians, and driver and manual downloads.