If you need a 13.3-inch thin-and-light based on an AMD platform, the Fujitsu LifeBook S2210 is a good choice. In fact, it's your only choice, according to Fujitsu. Add in a modular bay and an old-school but popular screen, and the S2210 fills a unique niche. We just wish the performance and design were a bit more thrilling.
An Understated Look
The S2210's bland, black, chunky exterior screams, "Look at the other guy." No wedge shape, tapered edges, or brushed-metal trim here. Nonetheless, at 4 pounds with an optical drive (3.6 pounds with the included weight-saver), the S2210 is easy to tote, and its 1.3-inch profile feels solid.
Unlike most other 13.3-inch notebooks, the S2210 uses a traditional--but glossy--4:3 panel with a 1024 x 768-pixel resolution. Fujitsu says the aspect ratio is still in demand, and indeed the taller screen lets you see more of a vertical document or Web page at once. It also means Windows Vista's sidebar gadgets will likely be in the way of your work.
The Crystal View screen was particularly bright and crisp, with contrast that rivals an LED-backlit panel. The integrated speakers were adequate for a small group but had a transistor-radio quality. The full-size keyboard is comfortable and quiet, and a row of multimedia-control and quick-launch buttons sits above the Function keys (but oddly it has no dedicated volume/mute controls). The touchpad is too small for our liking; its wide shape doesn't match the screen's squarish dimensions.
Delivering most of the expected ports, the S2210 includes a Smart Card-capable Type II PC Card slot and a 2-in-1 Memory Stick Pro/Secure Digital reader. It has no VGA port, which could be a problem for those needing to connect to an older projector or display device. Fujitsu has included a mini S-Video-out jack, but it requires an included adapter cable.
Fujitsu LifeBook S2210 Performance
The Atheros 802.11a/b/g chipset (802.11n is not available) turned in average scores of 16.1 Mbps at 15 feet and 14.5 Mbps at 50 feet. Battery life, however, was just 2 hours and 49 minutes with typical use, and only 1.5 hours when watching a DVD. For road warriors, we recommend the optional 6-cell modular bay battery ($134), which should double runtime.
The 1.9-GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-58 and ATI Mobility Radeon Xpress 1150 processors lose out to the Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs and Nvidia GPUs in other 13.3-inch machines. The S2210 scored 106 on MobileMark 2007, 1,881 on PCMark Vantage, and 1,424 on 3DMark03--all of which are below average for this size.
That said, you likely won't notice the speed differences with everyday productivity apps. Applications open quickly, and the machine boots to the Vista Business OS in a reasonable 58 seconds. However, more demanding multimedia chores will take a couple extra minutes: The S2210 needed more than 7 minutes to re-encode our 11 tracks to AAC format.
Fujitsu includes recovery discs as well as copies of CyberLink's PowerDirector, PowerDVD, and PowerProducer; Microsoft Works 8.5; and Roxio Easy Media Creator (the OEM edition). The company backs the system with one-year international parts-and-labor warranty with 24/7 tech support.
On its own, the Fujitsu LifeBook S2210 is a fine basic business laptop that gets the job done. But compared with the other 13-inchers, you're getting less style and substance per dollar.