The latest addition to Fujitsu-Siemens’ Lifebook line is a traditional corporate notebook design. You get good old Intel inside – still perceived to be the more appropriate choice for business in some circles – and it’s what one beer advert calls ‘reassuringly expensive.’
Admittedly, the review sample is a top-of-the-range model, from its 2.4GHz Pentium 4-M CPU to its CD-RW/DVD combo drive, but we feel that the price tag is still somewhat on the steep side. It’s a conventional size (37mm thick; 325mm x 273mm W x D footprint), and weighs 2.95kg, which is about par for the course.
The specification is what you’d expect from a power notebook, but nothing out of the ordinary. You get 256MB of PC2100 DDR memory, a 40GB hard disk and 802.11b WLAN as standard, but Fujitsu-Siemens hasn’t exactly gone overboard here or elsewhere.
The screen, for example, is a standard 14.1-inch XGA panel; perfectly good quality and brightly lit, but still basic. The GPU behind it falls into the same bracket, being an ATI Radeon IGP 340M, silicon which betrays its low-cost leanings by going the shared memory route rather than sporting any memory of its own.
The CD-RW/DVD combo sits in a multi-purpose bay which can alternatively play host to a second battery pack or a less capable optical drive. The hard disk is also removable although this appears to be intended more to make maintenance easier than to encourage daily extraction for data security. The floppy drive is entirely absent, and if you want one it’s £31 ex-VAT extra for the external USB unit.
We know ports can be a dull subject, but not having the right one is a serious matter, so please bear with us here. In fact the Lifebook does pretty well in this respect, with both parallel and a 9-pin serial port present as well as S-video TV output, infra-red, twin USB connectors and an expansion bus. This last gives you the convenience of a port replicator if you need to move the machine about regularly. Naturally enough, the replicator is an extra rather than part of the package, and will set you back a further £69 before VAT.
Like any self-respecting notebook these days, the Lifebook comes with both an integrated 56Kbps modem and built-in 10/100Base-TX networking. Further goodies may be added via a stacked pair of Type II PC Card slots.
The machine has a quality look to it which mainly derives from a tasteful combination of metallic silver and grey, although the overall design of the case is successful and appealing. The lid surface is made from a nice, solid layer of magnesium alloy to protect the screen during transport, and the general standard of construction was high.
The keyboard layout made sense and the designers have done a fairly good job with the relative sizes of the keys, so it wasn’t an uphill struggle getting used to it. We also liked the scroll button below the touchpad, which is one of those features that has taken an inexplicably long time to appear. Hopefully every new notebook will have one by the end of the year.
If you use the notebook on battery power, expect something around 2 hours 20 minutes of continuous light use. We would have been happier with more, really, but this just about scrapes by.
Performance is solid, to say the least, although the Radeon IGP was very leaden in 3D mode, not that this is a serious drawback to a business machine. That aside, it will cope very happily with the usual array of business applications, but it’s worth noting in passing that some other notebooks are every bit as pokey and considerably cheaper.
The standard warranty covers the hardware for an encouraging three years, and better still, it’s collect and return. This undeniably adds value, though we’re not sure it entirely justifies the asking price.
Company: Fujitsu Siemens
Contact: 0800 004 003