Given the number of budget laptops on the market today (see our recent roundup of sub-$1,000 laptops) we're a bit confounded by the Fujitsu LifeBook V1010. Its $899 price is certainly attractive, and its light weight and mostly solid design look great--in a vacuum. But the V1010's minimal feature set and previous-generation components don't hold up all that well when compared to similarly priced systems, such as the Gateway M-1618 (also $899). And for just $100 more, users could buy the far more full-featured (though slightly heavier) LifeBook A6110. Two advantages the LifeBook V1010 does offer are respectable battery life (especially for a budget laptop) and a beautiful display. But unless you're willing to sacrifice some connectivity and features for more computing time, you'd be better served by a different low-cost laptop, such as the LifeBook A6110 or the Lenovo 3000 N200.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$899 / $799|
|Processor||1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5200|
|Memory||2GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||120GB at 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Intel 945GM Express|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Business|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||14.1 x 10.5 x 1.6 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.4 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||6.2 / 7.2 pounds|
The boxy LifeBook V1010 features a black lid and silver base that will right fit in to business environments. The plastic case seems fairly well constructed, except for the lid, which flexes slightly under pressure; it's flexible enough that we'd worry about carrying the LifeBook V1010 in a tightly packed laptop bag. Still, the laptop's screen hinges and spill-resistant keyboard seem capable of standing up against everyday abuse. Its 6.2-pound weight shaves a few ounces off that of Fujitsu's 15-inch consumer LifeBook, the A6110, and is reasonably light enough to carry on the occasional business trip.
The LifeBook V1010 features a 15.4-inch display with a fairly typical 1,280x800 native resolution. Text and icons looked sharp and were large enough to read without squinting. Like most mainstream Fujitsu laptops, the V1010's screen produces remarkable color saturation and contrast that makes movie-watching a pleasure. Of course, there's a small trade-off: the screen's glossy finish, partly responsible for its depth of color, also produces slight reflections, particularly if you're working with a light source or window behind you. There is no option for a matte-screen finish, which is a noteworthy omission for a business system that is likely to see more spreadsheets than movies. The V1010 lacks the built-in Webcam found on higher-end LifeBooks, such as the A6110.
The LifeBook V1010's case is wide enough to accommodate a full-size keyboard. Typing was comfortable; the keys provided just enough resistance as well as a satisfying, yet muted, clickety-clack. The laptop's touch pad incorporates a rough surface that provided a bit too much drag for our tastes. However, we liked the V1010's ample mouse buttons, which drop down at the front, making it easier to press them. Even on a business-focused system we'd expect to find a row of quick-launch keys or perhaps volume controls on the keyboard deck, but the LifeBook V1010 includes just a single Support button that launches a suite of diagnostic tools with links to Fujitsu's support Web site. The final feature of note on the keyboard deck: two speakers that emit tinny, disappointing sound.
|Fujitsu LifeBook V1010||Average for mainstream category|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||3 USB 2.0||4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
Only the most minimalist users will be satisfied with the ports and connections found on the LifeBook V1010. Fujitsu significantly pared down the laptop's feature set, opting not to include the S-Video and FireWire connections or the multiformat memory card reader found on similarly priced business machines. The V1010 also features just three USB ports, a number more commonly found on smaller, 14.1-inch laptops. Fujitsu's own LifeBook A6110, which costs just $100 more than the V1010, includes all these plus a PC Card slot, two more USB ports, and support for Draft N wireless.
The $899 LifeBook V1010 we tested is one of two fixed configurations available from Fujitsu. The $799 model steps the processor down to a 1.86GHz Pentium Dual Core T2130 and halves the RAM to 1GB; we feel the extra $100 is worth the memory upgrade alone, particularly if you choose Vista Business. (You can purchase each model with XP Pro at the same price.) The $899 model we tested includes a middle-of-the-road 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo T5200 processor on Intel's previous-generation 945GM chipset. The 2GB of 667MHz RAM is appreciated, especially in such a low-cost system. As with any business laptop and most consumer laptops, the V1010 relies on integrated graphics, in this case Intel GMA950.
Like other LifeBooks, the V1010 produced a broad range of scores on CNET Labs' performance benchmarks. On our multimedia multitasking test it trailed the LifeBook A6110, built on a more recent chipset and graphics, by 14 percent; however, it performed on par with the similarly priced Sony VAIO NR160. The LifeBook V1010 did quite well on the Photoshop test, on par with the LifeBook A6110 and ahead of similarly priced systems that only included 1GB of RAM. As with any modern laptop with a dual-core processor, the V1010 didn't suffer from any particular performance lags on typical productivity tasks, such as typing documents and surfing the Web.
We were more impressed by the Fujitsu LifeBook V1010's 2-hour, 17-minute battery life. That's about the amount of juice we'd expect from a higher-priced mainstream laptop, and it's on the high end of all the laptops in our sub-$1,000 roundup. It's also a notable advantage over the LifeBook A6110, which lasted just an hour and a half. Our DVD battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect even longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.
Fujitsu covers the system with a one-year warranty. Support is available through a 24-7, toll-free phone line, and technicians can connect to your computer over the Internet to diagnose problems. Standard FAQs and driver downloads also are available. Adding an extra year of service costs $100, and upgrading to next-business-day on-site service is an additional $50 per year. Fujitsu is also unique among laptop vendors in offering a no-questions-asked Screen Damage Protection Plan that costs $150 for one year and $383 for three years.