If you can’t decide whether you want a new netbook or a new tablet, then your eye might be drawn to the Lifebook T580 from Fujitsu. With a 10.1in, 1366×768-pixel screen, it fits the netbook side of things nicely – but those hankering after an iPad or Galaxy Tab can swivel its screen round to lay flat, facing outwards, giving them a tablet-style device.
Windows 7 vs Android and iOS
There are plenty of reasons why the Fujitsu’s two-pronged approach doesn’t really stack up, though. First off, its price. For £900, you could buy a tablet and a netbook and still get some change.
Just as important, though, is ease of use. We aren’t entirely convinced that Microsoft’s Windows 7 Professional operating system functions as well in touch mode as either Android or Apple’s iOS, used by the iPad – though it does offer the advantage of supporting both stylus- and finger-based input, as well as pinch-to-zoom too.
But while we think the Fujitsu works well enough for professionals in, say, healthcare where they are capturing or tracking data, it is less well suited to leisure computing. This is primarily because Windows was not designed from the bottom up for finger-based input.
And then there’s the size and weight of the T580. It has true netbook proportions, measuring 270x189x40mm (wdh) and weighing in at 1.4Kg.
That may not be bad for a laptop, but it’s pretty chunky for a tablet, when Apple’s newly launched iPad 2 weighs just shy of 600g. You won’t want to hold the Fujitsu on one arm while tapping away at the screen for very long.
The right tool for the job?
Now, to be fair, Fujitsu is aiming the Lifebook T580 much more at professional users than consumers, and there are plenty of scenarios that might benefit from its convertible nature, the already-mentioned healthcare being just one.
We do like the keyboard, too, which is squeezed into quite a small area but well made and comfortable to use. Fujitsu hasn’t managed to cram an optical drive into the chassis – so if you want one, you’ll have to buy an external drive. That’s an additional expense, and something extra to lug around. Not to mention the fact that it will clog up one of the machine’s two USB ports while connected – unless you opt for a hub, of course.
The other connectors run to Ethernet, VGA, HDMI and an SmartCard slot, as well as a memory card reader, microphone and headphone jacks, and a fingerprint scanner. There’s Wi-Fi, of course, and Bluetooth – and the hard drive provides a healthy 320GB of storage. We’d call this a minimum specification as far as connectors and ports are concerned, though there’s also a webcam for all your internet chat sessions.