Fujitsu Siemens – Esprimo Mobile U9210 review

chunky ultraportable with decent screen
Photo of Fujitsu Siemens – Esprimo Mobile U9210
£838 + VAT

Just one glance at Fujitsu Siemen’s Esprimo Mobile U9210 tells you all you need to know about which market segment it is aimed at. The plain dark grey and black finish screams ‘corporate’ and that’s exactly who is being targeted: the road warrior who needs a tough, compact, no-nonsense ultraportable notebook for the daily grind.

But you should never judge a book by its cover, and while the styling of the Esprimo Mobile U9210 makes it seem that the past five years of notebook design have passed it by, under the skin it is bang up to date, with Intel Core 2 Duo processing power, Draft-N WiFi, embedded 3G mobile broadband and a good 12.1-inch screen. Although it’s a compact ultraportable (300 x 229 x 36.5mm), its weight of 2.15kg including AC adapter gives you an idea of its build quality and toughness.

Powering our review sample Esprimo Mobile U9210 was an Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 processor which has a clock speed of 2.4GHz. This isn’t the only processor option for it; there are six others to choose from depending on whether you need more processing power or need to save some of your budget.

Backing up the processor is 2GB of 1,066MHz DDR3 memory which should keep the installed Vista Business operating system quiet and gives the Esprimo Mobile U9210 fairly decent performance for its class, scoring 3,331 marks overall in PCMark’s Vantage test suite.

It comes as no surprise, keeping in mind who the Esprimo Mobile U9210 is aimed at, to find the graphics being provided by Intel’s integrated GMA X4500HD chip and its output powers the good WXGA screen.

With a native resolution of 1,280 by 800 pixels this display provides sharp text and good colour depth, and importantly for its target audience the matt coating keeps office light reflections down to a minimum. On the downside the screen has partially poor viewing angles and a thick, unattractive bezel.

The keyboard is pretty good, but if you are a heavy-handed typist you’ll find a fair degree of flex to the keybed. The keys themselves are comfortable to use, and a big positive is the fact that the design is spill-proof. Sitting in front of the keyboard is a responsive trackpad (without any scrolling function) and two mouse buttons. If you don’t like touchpads, no problem, as there is a trackpoint buried in the keyboard. But this doesn’t have its own mouse buttons so it’s a bit of a stretch to reach the pair by the trackpad.

Sitting above the keyboard is a row of shortcut buttons which can be configured to open different applications, but as standard they are assigned as follows; locking the notebook (useful if you are called away from your desk); a mobility button that allows access to a range of settings including screen brightness, fan controls and volume (very useful); while the third button launches the LaunchCenter which allows you to configure the buttons, perform system checks and, most usefully, initiate data backups.

Next to this is the Eco button which lets you switch off components to save battery power, while the last button turns the WiFi on/off, a function that is duplicated by a switch in the front edge of the chassis.

Storage is provided in the shape of a 5,400rpm, 160GB hard drive, but again other options are available and you could always add a second drive in the modular bay, which in our review sample held a DVD Super multi drive. You also get a 5-way flash card reader and, for security purposes, an integrated smart card reader.

Apart from mobile broadband there is 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Gigibit Ethernet and Bluetooth 2.1, so staying in touch with the office shouldn’t pose too many problems. There are three USB ports, one of which doubles up as an e-SATA port.

Battery life from the six cell 5,200mAh battery was very good indeed. Tested with MobileMark 2007 test suite it gave a battery life of a shade under three hours in the DVD playback test, five and a half hours in the Reader test and, most usefully of all, five hours in the Productivity test.

Company: Fujitsu Siemens

Contact: 08702 434 397

If you can get past its chunky styling and the relatively poor viewing angles of the screen, the Esprimo Mobile U9210 is a no-nonsense, tough - if heavy - business ultaportable that offers pretty good value for money.