Fujitsu LifeBook N7010 Review

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$1499
Editors' rating:
The Pros

Innovative 4-inch touchscreen; Durable design; Blu-ray drive; Multi-touch trackpad

The Cons

Bulky for a 16-inch notebook; Relatively weak graphics and gaming scores; Mediocre battery life; Lacks full 1080p resolution

Verdict

This 16-inch notebook sports an innovative 4-inch touch display that makes it easy to launch applications and view content.

With the N7010, Fujitsu simultaneously enters the emerging categories of 16-inch, 16:9 aspect ratio multimedia notebooks and touch-enabled laptops.

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Shaking up the traditional notebook design, the N7010 has not one, but two LCDs under the hood; its secondary 4-inch Touch Zone display doubles as both a shortcut menu and as a way to show videos and pictures. This system also sports a multi-touch trackpad capable of multi-finger gestures. But while we are fans of both displays and the Blu-ray playback experience on the N7010, you don't get as much graphics punch as you might expect from a $1,500 notebook.

Design

Fujitsu went with a traditional black exterior on the LifeBook N7010, which gives it a more corporate look than other 16-inch notebooks on the market, but tiny metallic flakes in the cover give it some extra sparkle under the lights. Plus, some angular lines on the deck add a bit of flair. It's fairly resistant to fingerprints, though you may want to keep a cloth handy to maintain the out-of-the-box shine.

The 15.2 x 10.9 x 1.9-inch desktop replacement is a bit on the heavy side at 7.4 pounds, but it's not unreasonable for a system with a 16-inch screen. While it weighs 0.4 pounds less than the 16-inchGateway MC Series, theSamsung R610-64G, by comparison, weighs only 6 pounds. Either way, while the system is light enough to tote from room to room, you're probably not going to want to travel frequently with it.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Upon opening the lid of this notebook, you'll find a glossy black frame surrounding its full-size keyboard. The keyboard deck has a good amount of wasted space--an inch and a half on either side. With all this room, we wonder why Fujitsu didn't include a number pad. All the space below and above the keyboard (to accommodate the touchpad and the second display) makes the keyboard seem smaller than it is. Nevertheless, the spill-resistant keyboard provided good feedback.

The multi-touch touchpad has a slightly gritty texture to it, which we liked. We were able to configure the pad with the Synaptic drivers to respond to pinching gestures to zoom in on images and Web pages. Nestled between the right and left mouse buttons is a scrolling toggle, which we found useful for moving up and down long Web pages.

A Support button above the keyboard brings up a shortcut to Fujitsu's support site and a diagnostic utility.

The notebook has a good number of ports: four USB, FireWire, eSATA, ExpressCard/34/54, Ethernet, VGA, and HDMI, but curiously, none is on the left side of the system; that's reserved for the Blu-ray drive.

A New Twist on Touch

Right above the keyboard is a 4-inch touchscreen set off by a brushed-aluminum frame. The resistive touchscreen, which has a resolution of 960 x 544 pixels was responsive and didn't require us to press too hard. The display can fit up to 15 quick-launch icons; we lightly tapped the Calculator icon on the secondary display and the Calculator popped up on the primary display. You can also drag the cursor to the second display and use the touchpad to open applications.

The quick-launch icons can be configured by pressing the Settings button in the lower right corner. A window pops up on the main screen showing all the icons listed in the second display. Unfortunately, you can't simply drag and drop icons; to add an icon, you first must remove one. The new icon will then appear in the space vacated by the old one. The Menu button can also be used to launch a slideshow in the second display; we merely needed to specify a source folder for images and were then able to flip through family photos while typing this review on the large display.

Interestingly, Windows regards the N7010's second display as if it were an external monitor. This allowed us to drag other windows, such as a Web browser, onto the second display. We streamed an episode of The Simpsons on Hulu.com, dragged it to the second display, and selected Full Screen. To our delight, the window resized perfectly on the small display, and its touchscreen controls worked flawlessly when stopping and starting the video. Similarly, we were able to drag a video-call window in Skype to the smaller display and see our caller.

We found the second display to be useful, and appreciated not having to go digging through Vista's menus to launch applications. However, while dragging windows, pictures, and videos to the smaller screen is fun, we didn't feel it appreciably aided our productivity.

Primary Display and Audio

The main 16-inch (1366 x 768-pixel resolution), 16:9-ratio display is bright and colorful, which made watching Sweeney Todd on Blu-ray quite pleasurable. The screen has just the right amount of glossiness, and vertical and horizontal viewing angles were decent when watching the Johnny Depp musical. We extended the display to a 32-inch Samsung HDTV using the HDMI port to watch the movie in full HD (1920 x 1080); we enjoyed rich colors and could make out minute details in the costumes, and the N7010 played the video smoothly, without any pauses in the video or audio.

While the N7010 doesn't produce the same quality sound as other 16-inch systems like the Acer Aspire 8920 and HP HDX 16, users will enjoy the system's crisp audio courtesy of the speaker panel underneath the screen. Usher's bass-heavy "Love Lockdown" sounded loud and full but didn't quite have the amount of bass that other desktop replacements offer, since the N7010 lacks a subwoofer.

Fujitsu's 1.3-megapixel webcam delivered decent images. In a video call over Skype, our caller could make out our new necklace; however, when we switched over to the Apple MacBook, they noted that the image was crisper. Fujitsu also packages the N7010 with ArcSoft WebCam Companion for easy video recording and light editing.

Performance

The Fujitsu LifeBook N7010 offers good all-around performance, thanks to a 2.26-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor paired with 4GB of RAM. The machine notched a PCMark Vantage score of 3,652, just above the desktop replacement average, but nearly 500 points lower than the HP HDX 16, another 16-inch, 16:9 multimedia notebook (which costs about $300 more). The N7010 booted the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium in a molasses-slow 79 seconds, which is 9 seconds slower than other desktop replacements.

The system comes with a 5,400-rpm, 320GB hard drive, which offers plenty of storage space for photos, music, video, and other files. In addition to an accelerometer, the system is protected by Fujitsu's Shock Sensor utility, which monitors movement of the hard drive and allows users to set the sensitivity of the accelerometer. On the LAPTOP Transfer Test, the drive copied a 4.97GB folder of mixed media in 4 minutes and 11 seconds--a rate of 20.3 MBps, or 1.8 MBps slower than the category average.

Graphics

The N7010's ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470 graphics (with 256MB memory) performed way below average for a desktop replacement. It scored 5,546 in 3DMark03, about 8,500 points below average, and 2,507 in 3DMark06, nearly 2,750 points below average; to be fair, this category also includes gaming powerhouses such as the Alienware Area-51 m17x. That low graphics performance translated to a low F.E.A.R. score of 35 frames per second in autodetect mode (1024 x 768-pixel resolution), and 27 fps at maximum resolution (1366 x 768). By comparison, the HDX 16 notched frame rates of 77 fps and 27 fps, respectively, and the $999 Acer Aspire 6930G scored 74 fps and 59 fps, respectively. Still, the N7010 was able to output a Blu-ray movie via HDMI in full HD, and stream shows from Hulu.com with no visual hiccups.

Battery Life and Wireless

Most desktop replacements with discrete graphics don't make it past the 3-hour mark, and the N7010 is no exception. It lasted 2 hours and 30 minutes on a charge, which is 17 minutes shorter than the category average. Be sure to keep the AC adapter close by. Fujitsu offers a high-capacity eight-cell lithium ion battery for $149. Wireless throughput from Intel's 802.11a/b/g/draft-n radio was good at 15 feet from our router (19.9 Mbps) and at 50 feet (18.0 Mbps); both scores are slightly above average.

Software and Warranty

In addition to the ArcSoft WebCam Companion utility, the N7010 comes with Adobe Acrobat Reader, Roxio Creator, CyberLink MakeDisc, CyberLink PowerDirector, CyberLink PowerDVD, and a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007. Fujitsu covers the N7010 with a one-year limited warranty and 24/7 tech support.

Verdict

Consumers have a number of choices when it comes to 16-inch, 16:9 ratio notebooks these days--some as low as $999. While the Fujitsu LifeBook N7010 is $500 more, it provides a unique second 4-inch touch display, solid everyday performance, and impressive Blu-ray playback. The touchscreen is an innovative feature and makes it easy to launch your favorite apps quickly. However, for its $1,500 price tag we wish the N7010's graphics performance was above that of more affordable 16-inch systems, like the $999 Acer Aspire 6930G and Gateway MC Series. Nevertheless, if a cool second display with touch functionality and Blu-ray are features you're lusting after, the Fujitsu LifeBook N7010 is a fun, one-of-a-kind multimedia notebook.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
CPU 2.26-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400
Operating System MS Windows Vista Home Premium (64 bit)
RAM 4GB
RAM Upgradable to 4GB
Hard Drive Size 320GB
Hard Drive Speed 5,400rpm
Hard Drive Type SATA Hard Drive
Display Size 16
Native Resolution 1366x768
Optical Drive BD-ROM/DVDRW DL
Optical Drive Speed 2X
Graphics Card ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470
Video Memory 256MB
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/draft-n
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.1
Ports (excluding USB) Firewire
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
Ports (excluding USB) eSATA
Ports (excluding USB) VGA
Ports (excluding USB) Microphone
Ports (excluding USB) Headphone
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
USB Ports 4
Card Slots ExpressCard
Warranty/Support One-year limited/24/7 toll-free phone
Size 15.2 x 10.9 x 1.9 inches
Weight 7.4 pounds
Company Website http://www.fujitsupc.com