Fujitsu Siemens' E Series LifeBooks are designed to offer desktop-level functionality in a laptop format. The LifeBook E8410
comes in two variants, one with integrated graphics from Intel and the
other with a more powerful discrete Nvidia graphics module. We examined
the latter, which retails for around £1,250.
Although not ideal in terms of
portability due to their size, the E Series LifeBooks offer integrated
3G connectivity and a webcam, so if you do need to take one of these
laptops on the road, you'll be able to stay in touch.
The E8410 is mostly black on the outside, and mixed black and silver on the inside. There's nothing revolutionary about the chassis design -- if anything, we'd say it tends toward the bland.
Build quality is generally good, but there are two areas of concern. The lid section is pretty solid, although there is some give towards its centre, so take care to protect it when in transit. Also, the lid and keyboard sections are held together by a solid clasp but because the lid section is large and there's only one central clasp, its extreme ends are fairly easily prised away from the keyboard section. Foreign objects could enter in the resulting gap and cause damage. All in all, we'd suggest finding a good-quality case if you do intend to carry this laptop around.
Not that you're likely to carry this large laptop very far. At 357 by 36 by 260mm, and weighing 2.6kg, it's likely to spend most of its life desk-bound. The reason for a large laptop, of course, is to support a big screen -- in this case measuring 15.4 inches from corner to corner. This delivers a native resolution of 1,680x1,050 pixels, which is sufficient to allow two working documents to be opened on-screen at once.
It's also ideal for complex spreadsheet work. The screen has a matte finish that makes it feasible to work with a a light source such as a window to the rear, in constrast to other displays with highly reflective surfaces.
To the left and right of the keyboard are grilles covering the system's speakers. Between them these occupy over 60mm of width, and we can't help wondering whether, with a little tinkering, Fujutsu Siemens might have been able to integrate a near full-sized number pad to the right of the keyboard and relocate the speakers.
However, as it stands, the keyboard is fitted with large-sized keys that pose no usability problems. We found touch-typing comfortable, although the heavy handed may find the keyboard's flexibility a little disconcerting. A touchpad sits beneath the keyboard, with two mouse buttons beneath it. A block between these two buttons can be occupied by a fingerprint sensor, although that option was not present on our review sample. Above the touchpad sit a second pair of mouse buttons, designed to be used in conjunction with the pointing stick that sits between the G, H and B keys.
Fujitsu Siemens has implemented its customary suite of four buttons above the keyboard. These include one that locks the laptop down quickly; one that takes you to the 'mobility centre' for configuring the hard-drive shock protection and other aspects of the device; an 'E' button which turns on 'Eco' mode, and an 'R' button that accesses an on-demand backup utility.
Eco mode allows a range of devices and functions to be turned off in order to save power; such devices include the optical drive, PC Card and flash-card readers, wireless LAN and FireWire. On our test system, all four buttons were configured to launch applications rather than perform these functions. However, it's easy to alter the configuration.
Our review sample was built around Intel's Core 2 Duo T7300 processor running at 2GHz. It had 1GB of RAM, although the system can accommodate up to 4GB. The operating system is Windows Vista Business. Our top-of-the-range review sample had a discrete graphics module, in the shape of an Nvidia GeForce Go 8400M with 128MB of dedicated video memory.
The LifeBook E8410 is well equipped for communications. Infrared and Wi-Fi are built in, although, oddly, Bluetooth is an optional extra and was not present on our sample. There is a hardware button on the front of the casing that allows you to turn Wi-Fi on and off easily.
An option that was present on our review sample is a 3G/HSDPA module supporting wide-area wireless connectivity at speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. At the moment, you'll be lucky to find 7.2Mbps coverage in the wild, but at least this laptop offers a level of future-proofing on this front. The SIM card slot is underneath the battery, which fits into a slot on the bottom of the casing.