With nearly every laptop manufacturer having abandoned standard-aspect displays for the roomier widescreen format, it's a bit of a shock to see a square-shaped screen these days. And yet here comes the Fujitsu LifeBook S2210's boxy 13.3-inch display, which joins a few ThinkPads in making a final stand for this dying breed. While that's not enough to dismiss the S2210 outright, its fine array of components and features don't compensate for the short battery life.
Weighing in at four pounds, the S2210 is light enough to carry all day, and it feels like it can last a long time. Measuring 11.5 x 9.4 x 1.3 inches, it runs slightly narrower than most contemporary widescreen thin-and-lights. When the lid is open, however, the system is nearly two inches taller than its widescreen rivals, which will make it more difficult to use on an airplane tray table.
The S2210's keyboard is mediocre; the keys are full-sized but felt somewhat cramped and not as firm as we'd like. The touchpad is of adequate size, however, and the biometric fingerprint sensor between the mouse buttons doubles as a vertical scroll button for quickly navigating through documents and Web pages.
Typically, a 13.3-inch display hits the sweet spot, balancing screen real estate and portability. The S2210's standard-aspect display, with its average 1024 x 768-pixel native resolution, however, delivers roughly 25 percent less screen real estate than a comparable widescreen. That means there's less room to work in multiple windows or edit documents side by side. Otherwise, the S2210's display is very bright and crisp, and text looks quite large on it.
Placed above the keyboard, the S2210's stereo speakers deliver the weak, tinny audio common to most laptops; headphones or external speakers are required fare for playing music or video. On the other hand, we love the S2210's row of external multimedia controls (play/pause, stop/eject, rewind, and advance) that double as programmable quick-launch buttons. In addition to the fingerprint sensor, the S2210's security features offer a Trusted Platform Module, as well as optional support for Smart Cards and Computrace or Lojack systems.
The S2210's collection of ports, slots, and connections is average for a thin-and-light: You get one FireWire and three USB 2.0 ports that are well-distributed around the case; VGA and mini S-Video outputs for connecting to an external display; microphone and headphone jacks; one Type I/II PC Card slot, which will support older expansion modules; and a two-in-one media card reader. Some fairly standard business-class features, including an ExpressCard slot and built-in webcam, are noticeably absent, but these omissions are understandable given that the S2210 is targeted mostly for the education market. (Note that you can remove the DVD drive and replace it with a plastic space-saver to drop the S2210's weight to 3.6 pounds.)
Our test unit came with a robust collection of components, including a dual-core AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52 processor with an integrated ATI Mobility Radeon Xpress 1150 graphics engine; 2GB of DDR2 RAM; and a big, 100GB, 5,400-rpm SATA hard drive. These components notched a 2,210 on our PCMark05 benchmark test-enough to make us confident that the laptop will elegantly handle any productivity task, as well as numerous applications at once. However, with a score of 1,353 on 3DMark03, the S2210 isn't going to be particularly useful for gaming or demanding graphics tasks.
The six-cell battery lasted a pitiful 1 hour and 35 minutes on our DVD drain test, which should give you a maximum of 2.5 hours of endurance when performing productivity chores. If you want more endurance, you'll have to spring for the six-cell modular bay battery ($134), which should bring your total runtime to 4.5 hours. However, you'll have to remove the optical drive to get this boost.
Windows Vista Business was loaded on our machine (you can also configure it with Vista Home Basic and XP Home), and Microsoft Works 8.5. Built-in networking features include Gigabit Ethernet and modem jacks as well as 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi (plus an external Wi-Fi on/off switch) and Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. The S2210's throughput of 10.8 Mbps at 15 feet and 10.7 Mbps at 50 feet was passable.
Though it's portable, delivers potent processing, and comes with a smattering of pleasing features, the S2210's capabilities are undercut by its standard-aspect display, subpar battery life, and high price tag. If you want a 13-inch notebook, go with an Apple MacBook or Sony VAIO SZ.
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