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Fujitsu P8010: Style and Usability

5 Featherweight Powerhouse Ultraportables
By , Barry Gerber

Style

Fujitsu helped to define the ultraportable notebook category several years ago. Its newest effort, the P8010, has been on the market a few months longer than the rest of the ultraportables in this review, so while Fujitsu has benefited from years of trying ultraportable designs, it hasn’t managed to perfect the art of tiny. The P8010 is the largest, thickest, and heaviest ultraportable in this roundup, at 2.9 pounds, and sloping between 1.1 and 1.4 inches thick (though it does include an optical drive),. The extra bit of weight isn’t very noticeable, but the thickness is.

Hey, I’m not calling the P8010 fat: it’s still an elegant machine. Its style is decidedly conservative, with a shiny lid that has a dimpled line to distinguish it, running through the meridian. The lid’s paint job has a speckled sparkle—like Formica—and manages to retain a lacquered look without attracting ugly fingerprints. Though all the plastic on the P8010 does give a little bit when pressed, it doesn’t depress nearly as much as the case built around the Toshiba R500. The screen does flex a bit, but not terribly much, and the lid holds itself shut with an emphatic and solid snap.

All the extra girth built into the P8010 does give the impression of sturdiness—it’s got a real exoskeleton. In fact, it may be the most rugged machine in this roundup, which makes it ideal for the accident-prone business traveler. A shock sensor for protecting the hard drive, and a spill-resistant keyboard contributes to this skill set, as does the broad Screen Damage Protection Plan that Fujitsu sells to buyers for three-year coverage. This type of utilitarian forgiveness, and drab but dignified design, makes the Fujitsu almost the opposite of the more rarified ultraportables like the Lenovo IdeaPad U110, Asus U2E and Sony TZ. It also makes it a more likely choice for IT buyers.

Ports

Fujitsu’s ultraportable isn’t missing any of the pieces that the other manufacturers include. On the left side, you’ll find the power jack, VGA port, gigabit Ethernet port, and two USB ports placed at different heights (useful for keeping rubbery plugs from nudging each other aside). There’s also a Firewire port and microphone and headphone jacks. On the front lip, the Fujitsu keeps its SD card (and other memory card) reader, and Wi-Fi on/off switch. There are fan vents here, too. On the right side are the optical drive and PC Card slot, joined together in the same plastic chassis, and just beyond them, another USB port and a modem port. There is nothing around back except another fan vent.

Style score: 3.5

Usability

Keyboard

Unlike the Toshiba R500, the P8010’s keyboard is compacted into a smaller-than-standard size. But like the Asus U2E, at least the keys are the right shape (traditionally chiseled and spaced). The keys are smooth, but not slick. For small hands this keyboard doesn’t pose any challenges, but larger hands might struggle to get their bearings. The entire keyboard flexes just a bit during a storm of furious typing, but not nearly as much as the Toshiba. Above the keyboard is a black strip filled with various controls.

On the far right and left are mesh-covered speakers; I’ve heard weaker ultraportable speakers, and with these you’d actually be able to watch a movie in your hotel room and hear the dialogue. In the center are six blue LEDs to indicate battery and keyboard function status. On the right are four buttons: the first opens tech support, the second brightens the screen, the third calls up display controls, and the fourth opens a browser. Any of these can be changed to other tasks, and to the right of them is the power button.

 
Trackpad and Buttons
 
The P8010’s chassis is standard biz-gray plastic, though the keyboard is a darker shade of gray. The wristpad is smooth and conventional. The trackpad is simply a rougher form of that same material, delineated by a hair-thin gap between the trackpad and the rest of the wristpad. The mouse buttons react easily to a very light touch, which requires some getting used to, but they are separated by a larger-than-necessary finger print scanner. Separating mouse buttons by more than a few millimeters is a pet peeve of mine: my fingers always expect the buttons to be flush against each other. I don’t see why the finger print scanner couldn’t have been placed on the right side of the chassis—there’s nothing there in the current design.

Display

 
This 12.1” screen seems somehow larger than Toshiba’s—it stretches to the absolute limits of the lid, leaving only about a quarter inch of plastic on each side. The screen is LED backlit, but has a matte finish. Fujitsu’s screen tech, which it calls CrystalView, seems to do a good job of preventing glare and shimmer. Though viewing angles aren’t better on this machine than any of the others in the roundup—a common problem on these thin little screens—when I look at the screen head on, its colors seem brighter and more varied than any other computer’s display in this group except the Sony Vaio’s (which is similar). The brightness, combined with the lack of glare and matte finish, made this the only ultraportable screen I could see with some degree of clarity in sunlight.

The only odd thing about this display is that Fujitsu has a built in webcam above the screen, but put it off-center to the left. Why? You have to put your face to the slight left of the computer to come across as centered during your Web chat.

 
Heat and Noise

The P8010 doesn’t get hot, and it doesn’t make the typical spinning-drive, whirring-parts noises typical of a machine chugging along. That makes sense given that its processor is not woefully unprepared, nor is its hard drive particularly slow—in fact, this machine does well with standard graphics-intensive and multimedia applications. But instead of the spinning and whirring sounds, this machine beeps. If I listened to it while I typed, I could hear a few electronic squeaky beeps. It wasn’t particularly distracting, but I did wonder what the machine was trying to tell me...

Usability score: 3.5

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  • 0 Hide
    enewmen , October 27, 2008 11:50 AM
    I like to read about these notebooks. They still exist and useful while other more exciting categories are around. (MID, UMPC, Netbook, and ultra gaming notebooks)
  • 0 Hide
    waffle911 , October 27, 2008 11:48 PM
    Quote:
    The unit’s dimensions are 10.8” wide by 7.7” deep, and 0.88” thick, which is thinner than the Apple MacBook Air.

    No it's not. The MBA is at no point thicker than 0.79", and Apple makes a point of it on the product design page.

    Otherwise, good article. But I think I'm not the target consumer for these products, so I'm going to be getting the new MacBook Pro. I need that extra performance for graphics-intensive applications. Then again, that would be a primary computer. If I had the extra cash, I would go for a MBA as a secondary, because I can't stand the smaller keyboards and screens but a laptop more portable than the MBP would be nice to have sometimes.

    Then again, I'm a Mac lover, so my views are undoubtedly skewed towards almost anything that runs OSX and has a giant Apple logo plastered on it. :p 
  • 0 Hide
    tim851 , October 28, 2008 7:55 AM
    This article is full of logical mishaps where the author contradicts herself, e.g.

    "I never felt this machine get warmer than room temperature, nor make any noise at all. That’s surprising given the U110 has a weak hard drive (only running at 4,200 RPM)"

    [a weak hard disk should make it NOT suprising]

    or

    "...the bottom can get hot. Some of the heat and noise can be attributed to the U2E’s underpowered CPU (...) With such a low-power processor, this machine is bound to stay pretty cool to the touch most of the time."

    [the second sentence is correct but (rightfully) contradicts the first one]

    Those two aren't the only ones. The article should be reworked.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 28, 2008 9:32 AM
    Pity not to see the very lovely Samsung Q210 in this list. I've gone for the Q310, simply out of preference for something a little more tangible, but the spec and build quality on both of these are super, not to mention the reasonable prices!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 28, 2008 12:28 PM
    Finally, I was wondering when Tom's would review an Asus based laptop considering they've been around for years. I actually like Asus's designs and own an ancient Z33ae ultralight from years ago although recently I've begun to wonder if the leather in the new laptops isn't overkill. :)  Still considering the heavy use / abuse I've put my Asus laptop through while only suffering from a burnt out power button light, I have to admire it's durability. Sure they do cost a little more but the build quality is what makes up for it. My experience with Toshibas so far is that they're cheap and they work extremely well. Just don't expect anything special, they seem mass produced. Sony's I've had breakdown on me unfortunately. They have admirable design but it's something I'm reluctant to touch.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 28, 2008 1:27 PM
    The Thinkpad X200s and X200 should have been part of this review. They use the newer Centrino 2 Montevina platform with the faster X4500HD GPU that can run Blu-Ray and with the Intel 5300 WiFi.
    The X200s goes for about $2K but there will be sales. The X200 has already been on sale with a $1300 pricetag for a full config.

    X200s Review (with link to X200):
    http://www.laptopmag.com/review/laptops/lenovo-thinkpad-x200s.aspx


    X200s: 11 hours battery with WiFi LED backlit 1440x900 display 3.2 lbs 12" with full sized keyboard, same as in larger "T" series. Full sized 2.5" hard drive or SSD 64 GB or 128 GB. 1.86 GHz SL CPU

    X200: 8 hours battery with WiFi CCFL backlit 1280x800 display 3.6 lbs and same options as X200s. CPU 2.26 GHz or 2.4 GHz. Fast!

    Both laptops have two smaller battery options for less weight.
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , October 28, 2008 4:07 PM
    tim851This article is full of logical mishaps where the author contradicts herself, e.g."I never felt this machine get warmer than room temperature, nor make any noise at all. That’s surprising given the U110 has a weak hard drive (only running at 4,200 RPM)"[a weak hard disk should make it NOT suprising]or"...the bottom can get hot. Some of the heat and noise can be attributed to the U2E’s underpowered CPU (...) With such a low-power processor, this machine is bound to stay pretty cool to the touch most of the time."[the second sentence is correct but (rightfully) contradicts the first one]Those two aren't the only ones. The article should be reworked.

    Thanks for your comment, Tim851.
    Here's what I meant about the U110's weak hard drive. I've found that when a machine has a weak hard drive, the drive tends to spin almost constantly even during basic computing tasks. When this constant spinning occurs, the machine typically gets hot. But on the U110, even though the hard drive was only 4200rpm, the hard drive at least didn't cause the machine to get warm--it didn't seem to strain or spin constantly as one would expect. Does that make more sense? Yes, a lower powered processor would help to keep things cool, but a severely underpowered hard drive could make things hotter, too. Happy to discuss further.

    All the best,
    Rachel Rosmarin, Editor of Tom's Guide
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 28, 2008 9:03 PM
    The TZ series is still available for purchase. Possibly not that particular model but overall the recall did not kill the entire product line.
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , October 28, 2008 9:06 PM
    anon3265467The TZ series is still available for purchase. Possibly not that particular model but overall the recall did not kill the entire product line.

    Hi Anon,
    Can you provide a link to Sony's site showing a TZ available for purchase? If so, I'll amend the article. Thanks.

    Rachel Rosmarin, Editor of Tom's Guide
  • 0 Hide
    Xajel , October 30, 2008 2:53 AM
    hell no, the first time I saw lenovo in the pics I thought ( when does Dell Studio becomes an Ultra portable notebook ? )

    Lenovo just copied Dell's design and made some changes !!
  • 0 Hide
    spiralsun1 , November 1, 2008 3:47 PM
    Here we go again... who would ever buy a notebook of any shape or size at any price with only 2-3 hours of battery life? That's basically UNUSEABLE. They talk like it's acceptable. A dead computer has NO performance, NO style, NO value! Cross country trips? what country -- Leichtenstein? WORTHLESS! I am still waiting -- please make a USEABLE portable device with at the very least 4-6 hours battery time, preferably 8-10 hours or more. I would like to be able to surf, show the kids a movie, do some work, play a game etc. on a trip and then watch another movie myself after that and show people pictures of my family. IF YOU MAKE IT, I WILL BUY IT IMMEDIATELY. I don't want to have to constantly watch and worry about the battery, and people use their computers for EVERYTHING these days -- THATS WHY WE WANT PORTABLE ONES NOW! Is my life supposed to stop in 2-3 hours? COME ON! I am getting upset about this, I KNOW I'm not the only one who feels this way. What's wrong with these people? Make a useable laptop that I can use all day (8-12 hours) and can plug in overnight. End of story.
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , November 1, 2008 4:55 PM
    spiralsun1Here we go again... who would ever buy a notebook of any shape or size at any price with only 2-3 hours of battery life? That's basically UNUSEABLE. They talk like it's acceptable. A dead computer has NO performance, NO style, NO value! Cross country trips? what country -- Leichtenstein? WORTHLESS! I am still waiting -- please make a USEABLE portable device with at the very least 4-6 hours battery time, preferably 8-10 hours or more. I would like to be able to surf, show the kids a movie, do some work, play a game etc. on a trip and then watch another movie myself after that and show people pictures of my family. IF YOU MAKE IT, I WILL BUY IT IMMEDIATELY. I don't want to have to constantly watch and worry about the battery, and people use their computers for EVERYTHING these days -- THATS WHY WE WANT PORTABLE ONES NOW! Is my life supposed to stop in 2-3 hours? COME ON! I am getting upset about this, I KNOW I'm not the only one who feels this way. What's wrong with these people? Make a useable laptop that I can use all day (8-12 hours) and can plug in overnight. End of story.

    Thanks for your comment, SpiralSun. Okay, you're right--there's no tiny computer that lasts 8-12 hours. We just aren't there yet, technologically speaking. But, most of the computers in our round up can easily last 4 hours, and the Sony will definitely last more than 6 hours. Keep in mind that our BatteryEater test maxes out a machine's power consumption. In normal use, all of these machines would last more than 2 hours.

    Thanks,
    Rachel Rosmairn
    Editor, Tom's Guide
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 2, 2008 5:33 PM
    Instead of considering these laptops, I'd rather go at BenQ X31. Extra inch on the display but monsterous graphics(8600GT) for a 13 inchers, and this means hell more performance and more plausible productivity. Have a look

    http://benq.com/products/joybook/?product=1302&page=specifications
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 5, 2008 6:04 PM
    I love the idea of an ultraportable, but Tom's Guide and I have different requirements. I'm old enough that a larger screen means more to me than a DVD drive. I'm more likely to work on the plane than I am to watch a DVD. I almost never use the optical drive on my laptop other than to load software. Most people would consider me a road warrior, but my computing needs are very simple: internet, Word Processing, simple spreadsheets, email and presentations. Light weight, long battery life and a screen big enough that I don't have to spend more time scrolling than reading. I've loved my Fujitsu Lifebook S-6231, but it's now a little long in the tooth. the only problems have been short battery life and it's 4 lb. weight.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , November 5, 2008 8:16 PM
    Couple things confused me. First, there's a button on the Sony that can launch multimedia without booting? Does this mean the machine can act like a DVD/MP3/MP4 player without booting into Windows? To me that would be an incredible Plus, watching videos on a plane without Windows running/eating up more power.

    Second, what does Windows Vista Business w/ XP Pro Recovery media mean? Makes it sound like the manufacturer put the wrong DVD in the packaging. Is this supposed to mean you can revert to WindowsXP with the media they included (in addition to restoring Vista if necessary)?
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