Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook P7120
There's a certain 'wow' factor associated with ultraportable notebooks and the 1.5kg Lifebook P7120 draws more admirers than most. Its tiny dimensions make it appear a lot smaller than others like the Samsung Q35. It's so small is because of the 10.6in TFT. The widescreen aspect offers 1,280 x 768 pixels and, despite the tiny proportions, it's still usable. As it has a glossy coating it's highly reflective, but at maximum brightness it isn't a huge problem unless it's pointing directly at bright lights.
Made of magnesium, the lid protects the TFT well and, overall, the P7120 feels solidly built. The keyboard is solid, too, and its layout mimics a regular desktop keyboard's as close as possible. Our only real gripe concerns the mouse buttons, which don't have a positive click, but it's something you quickly learn to live with.
We particularly like that all the ports are on the front and sides, making it far easier to plug peripherals into the three USB 2 ports, PC Card slot and VGA output. There's also a card reader, mini-FireWire, S-Video and both modem and Ethernet ports. Wireless connections can be made via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Somehow, the P7120 still has enough room to house a DVD writer, which is a big advantage over the Dell and Lenovo if you regularly need to read or write CDs and DVDs. The drive even supports DVD-RAM.
A slight concession is the hard disk which only sports 56GB of usable space, but this should be more than enough for documents and your music collection. Your data will be secure thanks to a fingerprint reader and a TPM encryption chip. Shock absorbers for the hard disk add yet more protection.
1GB of memory is installed along with a Pentium M 753. This makes it the only notebook here not to use the newer Intel Core, but our Office benchmark showed that it still had the same grunt as the Dell, which has a dual-core processor. What you sacrifice is responsiveness, especially when running multiple applications.
Being an ultra-low-voltage CPU, the benefit is longer battery life: you'll see between 3.5 and almost six hours. If that's not long enough, you can swap out the DVD writer for a second battery (for 113) and this will ensure you can get a full day's work done between recharges. Furthermore, an Eco button powers down all unnecessary components like the PC Card slot, FireWire port and DVD writer to squeeze out even more working time.
At 1,276, the Lifebook isn't the cheapest, but it has a three-year, collect-and-return warranty. A slip case is bundled and there's also an integrated webcam and stereo microphones - ideal for videoconferencing. And, if you buy the Limited Edition model from www.shopfsc.co.uk, you'll not only save on Fujitsu Siemens' direct price, but you'll also get a free Vodafone 3G card, an MP3 player, a USB TV tuner plus a choice of a red or blue lid. If you'd prefer an all-black P7120, wait a couple of weeks until Fujitsu Siemens drops the price on its own website.
Overall, the P7120 is a superb ultraportable, but the cheaper HP matches or beats it in almost every way save battery life. And since you can buy a second battery and still get change from the Lifebook's price, the P7120 has to settle for the third step on the podium.
One of the smallest notebooks around, but still has a wealth of features. The problem is the high price when others offer the same, or more, for less.
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