GCN Lab Review | Almost had the cake and ate it

New Fujitsu LifeBook is tiny and full-featured, but performance is an issue

Performance: C

Battery Life: A-

Features: B+

Value: B

Price: $2,099

Reviewer's comments: Light but still packed with features, this ultraportable performs below par but makes up for it in battery life.

Contact: Fujitsu Computer Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., (408) 746-6000, www.computers.us.fujitsu.com

Fujitsu LifeBook P7120

When looking for an ultraportable notebook, every buyer has to negotiate a thin line between 'too heavy' and 'not enough features.' Absolutely need an integrated optical drive? Chances are you can kiss your 3-pound weight requirement goodbye. Or maybe not.

The Fujitsu LifeBook P7120 does a pretty good job of walking the line. It weighs just 3 pounds, 3 ounces, which is on the low end of what we consider ultraportable, but it has many of the interfaces and features that some heavier ultraportables are missing.

In addition to a built-in modem, Ethernet port LAN and integrated 802.11a/b/g wireless radio, the LifeBook is also Bluetooth enabled.

Its S-video, FireWire, Memory Stick and three USB 2.0 ports will allow to you connect to most multimedia devices. And it has a biometric fingerprint reader and a built-in Trusted Platform Module for enterprise notebook-style security.

When it comes to the optical-drive coin toss, the LifeBook comes up 'yes.'

It has a dual-layer DVD drive that can handle every type of DVD-R and DVD-RW, as well as CD-RW. The drive is modular, so you can purchase another device or a second battery separately and swap it in.

We found the keyboard to be comfortable and nearly as roomy as larger notebooks. The touch pad, however, was a bit on the small side; we sometimes found it difficult to get the cursor very far with one pass.

The biggest reason agencies would hesitate before buying a LifeBook P7120 is pokey performance. The system uses a Pentium M Ultra Low Voltage 753 running at only 1.2 MHz, and it showed in our GCN/Alterion benchmark tests.

With a score of 4,213, the Life-Book is among the slowest note- books we've tested'mainstream, dual-core notebooks are nearly twice as fast.

The upside? The energy-efficient CPU helped the system's six-cell battery last three hours, 57 minutes, which is terrific for a battery of that capacity running our worst-case scenario rundown tests.

The LifeBook's price of $2,099 is a bit on the high end of typical ultraportables, but considering all the features the company packed into the tiny case, it's not unreasonable.

Be wary of the performance issues, though. If you plan to do more than e-mail and document prep, you may want to keep looking.

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