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Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook S7720 review

Verdict

A standard-issue corporate laptop with suspect ergonomics and a price that's way too high.

Review Date: 4 Dec 2008

Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray

Price when reviewed: £1,048 (£1,205 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Fujitsu Siemens' Lifebook 4 Life deal is something quite new for the IT industry. Invest in one of its Lifebook range of laptops and, every three years, the firm will give you a new one, absolutely free of charge. There are catches, of course, but if you're a cheapskate and don't mind being tied to one brand for the rest of your life it's got to be worth looking into. So what about the hardware behind the offer?

The Lifebook S7720 is the first Fujitsu Siemens product we've seen since the deal was announced, and it doesn't make a very good first impression - this is one bland laptop. Its black and silver garb fails to catch the eye, and the smooth, plasticky finish doesn't bode well for its long-term looks.

Look closely and you'll discover a hint of subtle sparkle on the lid, but it's just not enough to bring this rather dull, plasticky design to life. And those slightly cheap looks can be applied to the screen, keyboard and trackpad, none of which are what you could call best of breed.

The keyboard is comfortable enough to type on, despite feeling a little cheap, but it suffers from some confusing layout choices, with the Enter key too narrow and the Delete key in the wrong place. The trackpad works well, but is too small and cramped, and the alternative trackpoint, which is set into the keyboard, is accompanied by some truly horrid buttons just below the spacebar.

The screen isn't much better: it's 14.1in across and sports a bog-standard 1,280 x 800 resolution, but we'd expect more on a laptop costing over £1,000. Though the backlight is even, the colour quality can't match it, with washed out, muted tones the order of the day.

It's a shame as elsewhere the S7720 is a solid enough portable. In the engine room is one of the faster Intel processors - a 2.53GHz T9400 - and this is complemented by 2GB of RAM and a mid-sized 160GB Western Digital hard disk. It's enough to push the S7720 to a highly respectable score of 1.26 in our application based benchmarks. Take note, though, the integrated Intel graphics won't have you playing modern games at any great frame rate.

As it's a business machine the hard disk is shock-protected, so your data should survive if you ever have occasion to drop the laptop on the floor. To further extend the machine's corporate credentials there's a fingerprint reader nestling between the trackpad buttons complete with TPM 1.2 module, plus a smart card slot on the right hand edge of the base, an embedded HSDPA modem and a collection of shortcut buttons just above the keyboard.

These include a handy eco button, which lets you power down the optical drive, PC card and network adapters with a single click, and a shortcut key to a lightly-modified version of Vista's Mobility Centre. You'll need the former, too, as in our light use battery tests the S7720 was only able to last a 3hrs 56mins on a single charge - a distinctly average return. Intensive use dropped that to 1hr 11mins.

Build quality is, however, pretty good. The Lifebook might look plasticky, but the chassis is stiff and sturdy and the screen protection is generous. We gave it a good manhandling and it stood up to the abuse admirably well, with only a little bit of rippling evident as we twisted, prodded and poked. The keyboard is splash proof, so should stand up to the odd coffee/tea/wine spillage, and the warranty is also pretty good - a three-year collect and return policy as standard.

All of this is good stuff, but don't let it cloud your judgement because the S7720 is, at its heart, a deeply average laptop. The screen is a disappointment, it's not particularly light, the ergonomics aren't the best, and the price is too high, especially with such talented competition - the T500 and SR19XN - costing less. The free laptop deal is tempting, but if it means having to pay over the odds for a mediocre machine such as this, you can count us out.

Author: Jonathan Bray

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