Fujitsu LifeBook P1620 Review

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$2224

Pros: Compact design; Very good battery life; Brighter display with more contrast; New faster processor; Can lock down I/O ports

Cons: Insecure lid latch; High resolution for screen size

Verdict: Fujitsu's much improved mini-convertible offers better performance, a brighter display, and the endurance and security field workers need.

Fujitsu has souped up its mini-tablet while maintaining its svelte design. A new Intel Core 2 Duo Processor provides plenty of oomph for productivity chores, and you still get about 5 hours of battery life.

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We also like that the 8.9-inch display can be controlled with your finger or a stylus. Plus, Fujistu protects your data with a fingerprint sensor, TPM module, and new Portshutter software to restrict which ports can be used. This small-screen machine isn't for everyone, but it's a good bet for field workers looking for a lightweight and secure convertible that doesn't know when to quit.

Fujitsu P1620 Design and Ergonomics

You won't mind carrying around this 9.1 x 7.3 x 1.4-inch system, which fit nicely in a seat pocket on a JetBlue flight to Miami. When you pop the top of the 2.5-pound P1620, there's a black and silver interior with an 8.9-inch swiveling screen. As with the P1610, we were disappointed with the clamshell mechanics of the unit; the reversible latch just rests on its slot, instead of locking into it, so the lid is loose and shimmies both when closed and in Tablet mode.

The P1620 atones for this with its keyboard, which maximizes its tight space with a remarkably usable layout; the large keys had very good feedback. The directional keys are nicely offset to the lower right, and even the right-hand Shift key is oversized.

You get a pointing stick instead of a touchpad, and it was very responsive and registered taps as mouse clicks. A rocker button beneath the keyboard responded to left and right clicks, and when you depress a center key it enables the pointing stick to control scrolling. The small form of the P1620 is not without its trade-offs: The system sports only two USB ports and lacks an optical drive.

Display

With its higher-contrast ratio, the improved 8.9-inch display on the P1620 is bright and resistant to washouts from ambient light.

When we sat outdoors by a pool, the sun's reflection on the screen didn't affect our Web surfing. The wide screen didn't feel too squashed, but we wish the native resolution were lower than the eye-straining 1280 x 768 pixels. We found ourselves squinting a lot and bending forward to discern what was on the display.

Tablet Performance

The P1620 has a resistive (passive) touchscreen display that recognizes either the touch of a finger or the press of the small, basic plastic stylus. However, because there is no active communication between the stylus and the screen, users will not see hovering, gestures, and so forth.

Nevertheless, the P1620 switches nicely to Tablet mode when you reverse the LCD, and you can use the stylus to activate buttons and navigate Web sites.

Our configuration supported ink input, which allows for text input as well as freehand drawing, and we appreciated the timely pop-ups of the writing field. The machine responded well to our messy handwriting, but the screen required slightly more pressure than we're used to. We appreciated the scroll buttons in Tablet mode, which facilitated one-handed Web browsing and document viewing.

The built-in microphone was impressive; its dedicated software for controlling sensitivity and filtering isolated voices worked well. The trade-off is that the tinny speaker doesn't play back that voice with great clarity.

Fujitsu LifeBook P1620 Overall Performance

The biggest change we saw in the P1620 from the P1610 was in performance. Our configuration came with a 1.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and an 80GB hard drive (a 32GB solid state drive is available for $299), which notched an above-average MobileMark 2007 score of 101. The system launched applications quickly while supplying enough horsepower to allow for multiple open windows without much of a slowdown. Its integrated graphics produced a score of 993 on 3DMark03, more than 100 points higher than the P1610's score, and good for a system of this size.

Endurance and Wireless Performance

We were most impressed with the endurance of P1620's high-capacity six-cell lithium ion battery, which lasted 4 hours and 56 minutes with wireless on--more than enough for our three-hour plane ride to Miami. Wireless performance was strong with the 802.11a/b/g radio, at 18.7 Mbps and 17.0 Mbps of throughput at 15 and 50 feet, respectively. It's too bad this notebook doesn't have mobile broadband connectivity as an option, but you can easily add a modem to the PC Card slot.

Software and Support

Fujitsu now offers this system with Vista Business preinstalled, but our system ran Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. The P1620 comes preinstalled with useful software, including EverNote Plus, OmniPass' fingerprint utility, and a 90-day trial of Norton Internet Security. Staying true to Fujitsu's reputation for durability, the tablet's hard drive is shock-mounted and includes Fujitsu's ShockSensor utility, an accelerometer-based hard drive protection system. Should anything go wrong, Fujitsu covers the P1620 with a one-year limited warranty and 24/7, toll-free tech support.

Fujitsu LifeBook P1620 Verdict

The Fujitsu LifeBook P1620 packs more than enough functionality and usability to justify paying more than two grand. Consumers interested in a tiny tablet on a budget should probably gravitate toward the $999 LifeBook U810--provided you're willing to use a smaller 5.6-inch display--but we highly recommend this more versatile and secure convertible for road warriors and field workers.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
CPU 1.2-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600
Operating System MS Windows XP Tablet Edition
RAM 1GB
RAM Upgradable to 2GB
Hard Drive Size 80GB
Hard Drive Speed 4,200rpm
Hard Drive Type SATA Hard Drive
Display Size 8.9
Native Resolution 1280x768
Graphics Card Intel GMA950/64MB
Video Memory 64MB
Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.0
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
Ports (excluding USB) VGA
Ports (excluding USB) Modem
Ports (excluding USB) Microphone
Ports (excluding USB) Headphone
USB Ports 2
Card Slots Type I/II
Card Slots SD memory reader
Warranty/Support One-year parts and labor/24/7 toll-free phone
Size 9.1 x 7.3 x 1.4 inches
Weight 2.5 pounds
Company Website www.fujitsui.com