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Fujitsu LifeBook N7010: Are two screens better than one?

The new 16-inch wide-screen LifeBook N7010 has a bonus 4-inch touch-screen display above the keyboard.

Use the extra display for multitasking, or just look at pretty pictures.

After unveiling the LifeBook A1110 and LifeBook A6220 in October, Fujitsu is keeping the ball rolling with another addition to the LifeBook family. The LifeBook N7010, announced Tuesday, may not have the swappable lid panels of those previous models, but it does have a fresh new feature: a 4-inch touch-screen panel above the keyboard that can be used to control media playback, display quick-launch icons, or scroll through a photo slide show.

The second display can also help you multitask; instead of minimizing an application, you can drag it into the display below (the example from Fujitsu: you can work on a large file in the main screen while chatting on the Webcam below).

We're going to have to spend some time with the system to decide whether that screen is a boon to productivity or just a novelty. But even ignoring the extra LCD, the LifeBook N7010 has some compelling characteristics. Its 16-inch wide-screen display has the 16:9 aspect ratio that's ideal for viewing HD content, yet its case takes up about the same amount of space as a 15.4-inch system. To take advantage of the HD-friendly display, the N7010 includes an integrated Blu-ray drive, and if you want to watch movies on something larger, an HDMI port connects to your HDTV. Also, like so many of the midsize systems we're seeing today, the laptop incorporates an eSATA port for speedy transfer of large movie files.

Component-wise, you'll get a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor, 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3470 graphics, 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Like many recent LifeBooks, the N7010 includes a gesture-enabled touchpad, removable dust filter, and spill-resistant keyboard.

Pricing for the Fujitsu LifeBook N7010 starts at $1,499. The system can be ordered today and is expected to start shipping by November 10.