Years ago, the Fujitsu LifeBook ultra-light laptops and convertibles were laudable curios that ultimately were hard to recommend. They often had good keyboards and the funky dimensions of a trade paperback, but their slow processors, bland displays, and ugly silver plastic finish put off most serious business users. The Fujitsu Lifebook T2010 tries to cap what has been a steady improvement in the LifeBook line in recent years with a laptop that aspires to mimic the sleek look and smooth functionality of an ultra-light Lenovo ThinkPad convertible. The T2010 has the quality textured black exterior, titanium components, shock-resistant drive, and bright display of an enterprise-level convertible. In the end, however, it’s a serviceable laptop and a weak tablet.
The T2010 weighs a very portable 3.5 pounds, slipping easily in our portfolio. That’s because, unlike the T4220, this unit doesn’t have an optical drive. The keyboard is spacious for this small format and makes full use of the unit’s width to accommodate a comfortable finger span. The full-sized Shift and Enter keys and offset cluster of directionals do compromise to size, and we liked the large, bright key labels that helped us type in low-light conditions. In an odd design choice, the top part of the system battery forms the wrist rest beneath the keyboard, so users have to do without a touchpad. The action of the keys was firm and bouncy, and the pointing stick is sensitive enough, although the stick is kept so flush to the keys that it can be difficult to locate by touch.
Unlike many convertibles, which tend to be top-heavy from the additional weight of the LCD/digitizer, the T2010 is well balanced, so it stays anchored to your lap. Also thoughtful are two extra restraining pins around the spindle to keep the display from bouncing and wobbling in Laptop mode, as is common for convertibles. If only the designers were as thoughtful about the Tablet mode. The LCD doesn’t secure firmly to the keyboard when you convert it for stylus input. The Tablet screen swam about noticeably, which was distracting. The array of five launch buttons is generous and programmable, but the buttons are so flush against the lid surface and so sleek and black that they’re also difficult to find by touch.
The pen is thick and well-shaped, with a prominent action rocker button. It worked well with the LCD, providing a high hover zone and good calibration. Fujitsu, which has suffered from underwhelming LCDs in the past, has upped the quality considerably here with a screen that has excellent contrast and brightness even in indirect sunlight, along with the very wide viewing angles tablet users like. Our unit had a glossy finish, but you can also order the T2010 with an indoor/outdoor display that gives off less glare.
Also disappointing for tablet aficionados will be the weak microphone sensitivity. Despite fiddling with every record level setting we could find, we never got acceptable volume from the built-in mic, even though voices were rendered clearly from the dual inputs. One of the mic inputs was dangerously close to the Tablet launch keys, so stray finger swipes interfered with recordings.
Performance was generally good for an ultra-light notebook. The 1.2-GHz Core 2 Duo Ultra Low Voltage U7600 processor, which teams up with 2GB of RAM and a 5,400-rpm, 100GB hard drive, made for quick application load times and a smooth Aero-interface experience. The T2010’s score of 89 on MobileMark 2007 was fine, though nothing to write home about. PCMark05 garnered above-average results, with a score of 2,680, although its integrated graphics produced a mediocre score of 1,168 on 3DMark03.
We’re most impressed with the T2010’s battery life: It’s the longest we’ve seen on a Vista machine, at 9 hours and 14 minutes. Wireless performance was strong with the 802.11a/g/n radio, at 17.5 and 11.2 Mbps of throughput at 15 and 50 feet, respectively. Too bad this notebook doesn’t have mobile broadband connectivity as an option, like the ThinkPad X60 Series Tablet.
The shock-resistant hard drive was a bit of an oversensitive bother, since it frequently responded to minor bumps (like putting it on your lap) with a warning that the heads were disengaging. Despite being an unnecessary annoyance, the overly cautious drive sensors never seemed to undermine performance.
Like too many convertibles over the years, the Fujitsu LifeBook T2010 Tablet PC provides users with a stronger ultraportable laptop experience than it does a tablet experience. Serious stylus jockeys will want to give this one a thorough test drive to see if they find the Tablet mode flaws unforgivable. But if you need a powerful and very usable lightweight notebook, with occasional tablet use, then this is a good choice.
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