Monday, February 15, 2010

Fujitsu LifeBook P8020

Fujitsu has been at the top of the business notebook segment, offering very well-built notebooks with a pinch of style and some of the best displays. The 12.1" ultraportable LifeBook P8020 follows in these footsteps, a mild platform refresh of the P8010 with the same body and design. This notebook is not without fierce competition, however, with strong competitors from both HP and Lenovo. In this review we see how well the Fujitsu P8020 stacks up against other business notebooks and if it really deserves a spot on your airline tray table.

Our Fujitsu LifeBook P8020 Specifications:

* Intel Core 2 Duo Processor U9400 (1.4GHz, 2MB L2 cache, 800MHz FSB)
* Windows Vista Business 32-bit SP1
* 12.1" Crystal View WXGA display (glossy, 1280x800)
* Built-in Webcam for Instant Messaging
* Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500
* 2GB DDR3 800MHz Memory (1GB x 2)
* 160GB 5400RPM Fujitsu Hard Drive
* 2GB Intel Turbo Memory
* Intel Wireless Wi-Fi Link 5300AGN (802.11 a/b/g/n)
* Integrated Bluetooth Wireless
* Dual-Layer Multi-Format DVD Writer
* Embedded TPM and Fingerprint Sensor
* U.S Keyboard (Spill-resistant)
* Main battery: Lithium ion (6-cell, 7.2v 8700 mAh, 62Whr)
* AC Adapter: 60w (16v, 3.75A)
* Size: 11.1 x 8.25 x 1.1/1.6
* Weight: 2lbs 14.5oz (3lbs 10.0oz travel weight)
* One-year International Limited Warranty
* Configured Price: $2,149

Build and Design
The Fujitsu business notebooks have always had a special place in my heart with their basic matte black body and glossy black metallic display cover. The plastic finish is textured just enough to make gripping it easy and holds up very well against abrasion. The bottom of the notebook has the same finish with the addition of a felt pad beneath the processor. This feature has been on Fujitsu notebooks for as long as I can remember and essentially keeps your bare legs comfortable if the notebook is on your lap.

Build quality is very good, although a step under the HP EliteBook or Lenovo Thinkpad lineup. The chassis has some mild flex under pressure, noticed primarily around the palmrest. The display cover flexes inward with mild pressure, as it is very thin with minimal bracing. Under strong pressure you can see some discoloring on the screen, but unless you plan on walking on top of the notebook it shouldn’t be a problem. Most of the weaker construction comes as a compromise with the extreme low weight. The HP EliteBook 2530p weighs almost a 1lb more and the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 is about .30lbs more with the same size battery but still doesn’t have an internal optical drive. The overall feel is above standard consumer notebooks, but not into the semi-rugged business notebook area.

The 12-inch display on the Fujitsu P8020 is above average in terms of color and black levels, but weak in terms of viewing angles and mild backlight bleed. Inside the relatively narrow viewing angle sweet spot the screen looks beautiful, with bright and vibrant colors that really belong on a multimedia-oriented notebook. Pictures look stunning and lifelike, and movies are great. Outside of the vertical zone the colors quickly invert or wash out, but at the correct angle it looks fantastic. Horizontal viewing angles are slightly better, keeping colors true but becoming slightly dimmer. I normally don’t enjoy glossy panels on business notebooks, but for this I can easily make an exception.

Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is slightly smaller than a standard notebook keyboard and uses condensed keys. Some manufacturers like Lenovo use thin keys surrounding the letter portion of the keyboard to increase available space, and then use full-size letters for standard typing surface. The Fujitsu P8020 keyboard was comfortable to type on during use, but it took a bit to get used to the layout coming from a full-size keyboard. Individual key presses were soft with a mild audible click, and the typing surface was supported very well to minimize flex.

The touchpad surface was very large for an ultraportable notebook. The P8020 included a Synaptics touchpad that had some multi-touch capabilities, including pinch zooming. I have to say that for the review I disabled the additional features since they quickly get annoying if you are not used to it, but experiences may vary. Another odd feature was a coasting option, which let you fling the mouse around the screen. The sensitivity could be improved just a notch, but besides that it was great. The surface has a matte finish which is easy to glide your fingers across, even if they are sweaty. The touchpad buttons are on the small side but still easy to trigger. They give a short throw and have a small audible click when pressed.

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