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Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook P8010 review

Verdict

Competing with Sony, Lenovo and Apple is no easy task, as this overpriced and unremarkable ultraportable proves.

Review Date: 26 Jun 2008

Reviewed By: Matthew Sparkes

Price when reviewed: (£1,531 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

The ultra-portable business laptop market has undergone a huge shake-up in recent months, with a triple-release of outstanding new products: the Lenovo X300, MacBook Air and updated version of Sony's TZ series with the TZ31MN. All three of these laptop brought decent performance, impressively thin chassis and low weight, and all will attract jealous stares in the boardroom. This is the sector that Fujitsu Siemens is targeting with its Lifebook P8010, but can it beat the competition?

Unfortunately, it is rather less visually impressive than the models in this desirable trio. The lid has a couple of seams that run horizontally from edge to edge, apparently inspired by the growth rings on bamboo, and two different finishes, which give it a slightly cluttered look. Inside, things are similarly confused. Where the Apple and Sony bring unique and contemporary styling and the X300 brings classy business-focused looks and a certain amount of retro-ThinkPad charm, the Fujitsu sports a rather standard grey plastic does it few favours - we've seen laptops much cheaper than this with better design.

A small glossy black panel above the keyboard complete with some chrome buttons lifts the design slightly, and matches the chrome screen hinges, but the overall feeling is one of function over form.

The quality of the finish is far higher than that of the design, at least. The chassis is sturdy and strong without adding to the weight drastically, and the screen is very well protected, although the 1cm thick lid is far chunkier than the razor-thin display on the Sony TZ31. We certainly had no qualms about dropping it into a bag, which can be a concern with ultra-thin units like the TZ.

The keyboard and mouse is similarly well put together. The former runs to within just a few millimetres of the edge of the chassis, so is as wide as those found on some larger laptops. It has a very low action, but the key action is positive and typing on it is comfortable and quick. The trackpad is also very accurate, and the touch sensitive area surprisingly spacious.

The notebook may be impressively compact from most angles, and even lighter than the MacBook Air at 1.35kg, but its thickness stands out from afar when compared to its rivals. While most high-end ultra-portables now are competing on headline thickness figures, the Fujitsu seems to have disregarded the race entirely. Its smaller 12.1in screen means it's nearly four centimetres narrower than the X300 (which has a 13.3in screen), and three centimetres shallower, but it's almost twice as thick.

Unfortunately the same can be said of the MacBook Air, and the Sony TZ31 manages to shave a few millimetres off of the width and depth while still coming in well over a centimetre thinner and boasting a higher resolution on its 11in TFT panel. The extra height doesn't make a huge difference when carrying the unit in a bag, but has a huge impact on its looks and style - a big problem for a machine pitched at the luxury end of the portable market.

The larger size at least allows Fujitsu to cram in plenty of features. But though it sqeezes more in than the MacBook Air, it has no significant advantage over the X300 or TZ31, which both offer a similar range of useful connections, and a DVD writer. It also offers a fingerprint reader and TPM chip, a major plus for security-conscious business users, an integrated 3G modem and a hard disk shock sensor. The latter was extremely effective, warning us to keep the notebook steady at even the smallest of knocks, although this did eventually becoming wearing.

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