Editor's note: The score was revised upward to reflect our test of the extended battery, which comes standard on the LifeBook Q2010 we reviewed. (7/25/06)
The Fujitsu LifeBook Q2010 ultraportable laptop is small enough to fit in even the most cramped coach seats, but at more than $3,000 for a well-configured model, anyone who can afford one is probably flying first class anyway. It's lighter than other ultraportables, such as the Dell Latitude X1, the Lenovo ThinkPad X60s, the Panasonic ToughBook W4, and the Sony VAIO TX. If you demand the utmost in portability--and are willing to spend quite a bit to get it--consider the LifeBook Q2010. Otherwise, look to the Editors' Choice award-winning ThinkPad X60s, which is only a bit thicker but much faster and more than $1,000 cheaper.
The LifeBook Q2010 is a sleek and stylish machine. Its matte black exterior and keyboard contrast nicely with the dark gray wrist pad and display molding. The laptop's most striking feature, however, is its thickness--or lack thereof. At just 0.8 inch thick (that's roughly the same as three iPod Nanos stacked up), 11.7 inches wide and 8.6 inches deep, the notebook is downright diminutive. The LifeBook Q2010 has a wider footprint and is thinner than the Lenovo X60s, the Panasonic ToughBook W4, and the Dell Latitude X1. It's slightly larger than the Sony VAIO TX. The notebook weighs in at 2.3 pounds, making it lighter than all three. Adding the LifeBook Q2010's power adapter brings the weight up to 3 pounds--still supremely portable.
The LifeBook Q2010 features a 12.1-inch, glossy, wide-screen display with a native resolution of 1,280x800. The wide aspect ratio gives it a bit more screen real estate than the ToughBook W4 or the Latitude X1. The LifeBook Q2010's display can show 17 columns and 36 rows of a spreadsheet or a page in a word processor at 150 percent without need for horizontal scrolling. Its glossy coating makes the colors in photos and video look particularly rich, but it limits your viewing angle, which may be a plus for business travelers as nosy folks on your sides will have a much harder time reading your screen. The notebook's other multimedia features are nice: the speakers are better than most ultraportables', and a hardware volume dial is conveniently located on left side next to the microphone and headphone jacks. The LifeBook Q2010 also has a hardware Wi-Fi switch on the front, a fingerprint reader between the two mouse buttons, and four programmable application-launch buttons to the left of the keyboard.
The keyboard and trackpad on the LifeBook Q2010 are small but usable. The keyboard is 0.75 inch narrower than that of a standard desktop, which is most apparent in the few keys Fujitsu chose to make half-size. Maddeningly, the period key is half-size, meaning you're reminded the LifeBook Q2010 is an ultraportable with every sentence you type. The touch pad is small and pushes up against the keyboard; however, its left-of-center placement kept us from accidentally moving the cursor while typing. Though the touch pad has no dedicated scroll zones, Fujitsu includes excellent Synpatics drivers that allow for two-finger scrolling, similar to the feature on recent Apple laptops.
As with most ultraportables, Fujitsu was forced to make some sacrifices to get the LifeBook Q2010 so small. The most obvious is its optional, media-base-style docking station. The notebook has no onboard optical drive, video-out, or Ethernet; these features reside on the dock, making the $299 option all but essential. The dock adds a dual-layer DVD burner, four additional USB ports, an Ethernet port, and VGA out, and it replicates the headphone and microphone jacks.
With the dock, the LifeBook Q2010 has virtually every port and connection business users will need. It includes Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g wireless, and a 56Kbps modem for networking; Bluetooth 2.0 is optional. The notebook itself has two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, a port for a dongle that has an Ethernet and modem jack, a CardBus card slot (though not the latest ExpressCard), a Secure Digital memory card reader, audio in, audio out, and dual microphones. The LifeBook Q2010 also has a Trusted Platform Module for maximum security. An option for integrated WWAN is conspicuously absent.
Fujitsu ships the notebook with a rich application suite, including the Microsoft Windows XP Professional operating system; CyberLink PowerDVD and Roxio Digital Home for watching and burning discs, respectively; Norton Internet Security; and Quicken 2006. Though most manufacturers don't ship any productivity software with business machines, Fujitsu includes Microsoft Works 8.5 on all LifeBook Q2010's at no additional cost.
Perhaps one reason the LifeBook Q2010 feels so light is all the cash you'll have to part with to get one. The entry-level model costs $1,999, but our top-end review unit sells for $3,498, which buys you the 1.2GHz Intel Core Solo U1400 processor, 1GB of midrange 533MHz RAM, an 80GB hard drive spinning at a slow 4,200rpm, and Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics. That price also includes an additional high-capacity battery and the docking station with a dual-layer DVD burner. Our LifeBook Q2010 is roughly $1,000 more expensive than the older Pentium M-based Sony VAIO TX and Panasonic ToughBook W4; a Pentium M-based Dell Latitude X1 costs $800 less. The Lenovo ThinkPad X60s beats them all by including a faster Core Duo processor for roughly $1,000 less than the LifeBook Q2010.
When pitted against other small ultraportables in the CNET Labs performance benchmarks, the Fujitsu LifeBook Q2010 did well--most likely due to its newer Core Solo processor--meaning it should handle most business and productivity applications. The LifeBook Q2010 was just 5 percent faster on the MobileMark test than the Dell X1, the fastest of its Pentium M-based competition. The LifeBook Q2010 got trounced, however, by the dual-core Lenovo ThinkPad X60s; its Intel Core Duo chip led to a crushing 30 percent advantage.
Using the standard three-cell battery, the LifeBook Q2010 lasted just 1 hour, 40 minutes; the Dell Latitude X1, itself underperforming, outlasted the LifeBook Q2010 by 1 hour, 12 minutes. That said, with the 0.5-pound, high-capacity battery, the LifeBook Q2010 turned in the second best time we've ever recorded in the labs: a remarkable 7 hours, 38 minutes on battery power. The Panasonic ToughBook W4 lasted for 5 hours, 41 minutes, and the Sony VAIO TX went for 6 hours, 36 minutes on battery power. The record-holding Lenovo ThinkPad X60s goes all day long with 8 hours, 16 minutes of battery life. Though the high-capacity, six-cell battery comes standard with the more expensive LifeBook Q2010 models, the $170 battery's superior performance makes it an essential upgrade for anyone thinking of buying a lower-end LifeBook Q2010.