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Fujitsu Siemens' Esprimo range is designed for business professionals who are just as likely to find themselves behind a desk as they are on a train between business meetings. The Esprimo M9410 is the only laptop in this range with a 14.1-inch screen, helping it achieve a good balance of portability and functionality. It packs Intel Centrino 2 technology, high-end components, and is available now from approximately £740.
When we first saw the M9410, the year 1999 called, and when we picked up the phone it said, "I want my laptop back." Who could blame it? Aesthetically, the M9410 is far better suited to that decade than to the one we're in now.
Our main beef is the grey finish that's reminiscent of school uniforms. But there are also other prehistoric touches, such as the LED info strip living above the keyboard. This gives handy information like the battery charge levels, whether Wi-Fi is activated and more, but it looks like the readout from an old electronic calculator.
Fujitsu Siemens' defends the M9410 by saying the machine is designed for business users, not for the ordinary consumer. That doesn't really fly with us -- we showed it to several of CNET UK's most be-suited, sales-jargon-talking lead chasers and they didn't like it either. They did, however, say criminals would be less likely to steal it from them. But at the same time, they'd be more inclined just to give it away.
Looks aside, there are a number of cool design touches on the M9410. The row of shortcut buttons above the keyboard, for instance, comes in quite handy. The two most useful of these let you quickly lock the machine and launch either the Windows Mobility Center or the Fujitsu Siemens Launch Center -- from which you can start backups or change system settings. The Eco-mode button reduces screen brightness, which can be useful on occasion.
Down in the left-hand corner are front-facing audio ports, a memory card reader and a hardware switch for disabling the Wi-Fi and HSDPA modem when you're in a place that prohibits their use. The left side is home to an ExpressCard/34 slot, a dual-purpose USB/e-SATA port and a vent for expelling hot air. On the right side there's a DVD rewriter drive, which can be removed and replaced with an extra 3,800mAh battery should the need arise. Round the back you'll find two more USB ports, D-Sub video output and Ethernet ports.
Despite its old-school appearance, the Esprimo M9410 is rocking some very modern components. It's Centrino 2'd up to the eyeballs, which means it's geared towards creating the best possible mobile computing experience.
Our test sample uses an Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 clocked at 2.4GHz, plus 2GB of high-speed DDR3 1,066MHz memory. Storage came courtesy of a 320GB 5,400RPM hard drive -- a generous amount given the fact that the M9410 is aimed at business users. Personally, we'd have preferred storage space split across two 160GB drives, with the second drive being used as a backup.
The Esprimo M9410 comes with a DVD super multi drive. This lives in a modular drive bay, so it can quickly be removed and replaced with a variety of alternative components. Users can either add a second battery, a second hard drive or simply leave it unoccupied to reduce weight by a few hundred grammes.
Wireless communication is one of the M9410's strong points. Its Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5300 adaptor supports 801.11a,g and high-speed n protocols, so you can connect to just about any type of Wi-Fi network. The laptop also features an optional UMTS/HSUPA adaptor. Simply insert your 3G SIM card into the slot behind the battery and you'll be able to surf the Internet at up to 7.2Mbps. Three dual-band WLAN antennas and two UMTS antennas ensure connections are reliable.
The M9410 has a fairly good 14.1-inch display with a native resolution of 1,280x800 pixels. Its biggest draw is that it doesn't use a glossy screen coating. As a result, it's possible to use the laptop outdoors without battling to see past your own reflection.
One of the cleverest aspects of the M9410 is the fact that it comes with two operating systems. The primary OS is Windows Vista, but Fujitsu Siemens' DualView system allows you to boot into Windows XP should you need to. Obviously this feature won't appeal to everyone, but it could come in handy for business users who want the broad compatibility of XP, as well as the funky features in Vista.
Fujitsu Siemens has gone out of its way to install a spill-proof keyboard on the M9410, which is capable of withstanding a very small amount of liquid. That's a nice touch, but be aware that the keyboard isn't particularly comfortable to type on. Despite being quite large, the keys don't have quite enough travel and are somewhat spongy.
The Esprimo M9410's performance won't disappoint its target audience, but it isn't particularly quick, either. Its 2.4GHz P8400 CPU helped it to reach 3,513 in PCMark 2005, which is a pretty average score. For reference, laptops geared towards performance will achieve somewhere in the range of 5,000-6,000 points in this benchmark.
The M9410's battery life is average. It lasted 1 hour and 40 minutes in our BatteryEater Classic test, which runs the laptop at full pelt until it keels over. You can expect this figure to almost double with more frugal usage, but for real peace of mind, you should probably invest in a second battery.
The Esprimo M9410 is a good business laptop. In particular, we love that it has an integrated HSDPA modem for go-anywhere Internet access. However, its questionable design and average performance won't be to everyone's tastes. If you have the money, it's worth considering something like the Toshiba Portege R500 instead.
Edited by Marian Smith