Fujitsu's Lifebook S series is designed for those who want a lightweight notebook that doesn't compromise on performance. Our recent review of the Sony VAIO Z shows that there's space in this segment for premium machines at a premium price. The Lifebook S760 is less expensive, starting at £897 and rising to £1,101 (ex. VAT).
Fujitsu doesn’t always get the physical design of its notebooks right, but the S760 ticks plenty of boxes. Not everybody will like the white keyboard and light-coloured wrist rest, but we don't find it offensive in any way.
The 13.3in. Lifebook S760 is an ultraportable weighing 1.6kg
More importantly, there's a very sturdy clasp holding the lid and base sections together when the notebook is closed. More manufacturers should include this feature, as it helps prevent foreign objects getting between screen and keyboard when the notebook is loose in a travel bag.
The Lifebook S760 is small and light, measuring 31.4cm wide by 22.2cm deep by 3.05cm thick and weighing 1.6kg (with variations depending on the particular configuration). Most people should have no problem carrying it regularly.
The base section of the chassis is superbly tough. There are two options when it comes to the lid section: magnesium-based, as in our review sample, or a sturdier but slightly thicker and heavier lid made of compound materials. There's a fair amount of flex in the magnesium lid — not as much as we found in Sony's VAIO Z, but enough to cause a little concern.
The keyboard is a new design, with frequently-used non-QWERTY keys that are larger than usual. Fujitsu claims that the Enter Fn, arrow, and backspace keys all benefit. In fact, the Fn and backspace keys look normal sized to us; nor are the arrow keys any larger than we're used to seeing on other notebooks. The Enter key, though, is noticeably big and is also double-height.
The spill-resistant keyboard has a good action, with the keys delivering a reassuring click when pressed. We managed to achieve full touch-typing speed comfortably.
Next to the 2-button touchpad is a circular ScrollWheel for easy vertical scrolling
There is a two-button touchpad beneath the screen, with an optional fingerprint scanner between the buttons. The touchpad has vertical and horizontal scroll zones on its right and bottom edges. In addition, to the right of the touchpad is a round 25mm-diameter touchpad area called the ScrollWheel. which acts as a vertical scroller: you rotate a finger clockwise to scroll down, anticlockwise to scroll up.
We found the ScrollWheel remarkably ergonomic to use, more responsive than the scroll zone on the conventional touchpad, and easy to use with the touchpad. It came into its own for web browsing, but worked across all of the applications we tried.
The 13.3in. LED-backlit display has a native resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels and is sharp, clear and bright. The matt anti-glare display means there's no reflectiveness at all; we were perfectly happy working with a window to the rear on a bright, sunny spring day.
Above the screen is an (optional) 1.3-megapixel webcam, for which Fujitsu supplies CyberLink's YouCam software. This offers a wide range of features, most of which, it must be said, are distinctly un-businesslike. For example, there's an array of animations, avatars, distortion effects and cartoon-like frippery, as well as the ability to draw onto images and upload to YouTube, Facebook and email. Of course, you can use the camera for video surveillance, still and video capture, and videoconferencing. However, some basic features such as auto zooming and face tracking are missing.
Our review sample of the Lifebook S760 is the top-end model, which costs £1,101 (ex VAT). It runs a 2.4MHz Intel Core i5-520M processor with integrated HD Graphics and comes with 4GB of RAM as standard, expandable to 8GB. The chipset is Intel's QM57 Express and the operating system is 64-bit Windows 7 Professional.
Connectivity includes Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth (2.1+EDR), Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and HSPA (7.2Mbps down, 5.76Mbps up). The SIM slot is underneath the battery. The 5,400rpm SATA hard drive provides 320GB of storage.
Above the screen is the main on/off button plus a row of five shortcut buttons. One locks the system down to the login screen; a second opens the Windows Mobility Centre where you can access a range of Microsoft's and Fujitsu's system settings and tweaks; a third opens the Fujitsu Launch Centre, where you can access the manual, system diagnostics and other vendor-provided services; a fourth button brings up a wireless profile selector for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
The fifth button accesses Fujitsu's Power Saving Utility settings. Here you can configure various aspects of the device to balance performance and power. Your custom settings are incorporated into a Fujitsu EcoSettings power plan.
There's a reasonable set of ports and connectors, including three USB ports one on the left side and two on the right. Unfortunately the two right-side ports are vertically stacked, and many peripherals used in one slot will block the other one.
The left edge also carries an on/off switch for the wireless radios, an HDMI port and the Ethernet (RJ-45) connector. The right-hand side has an ExpressCard slot and an optical drive in a modular bay that can accommodate a second battery or a space saver.
The front edge houses the headphone and microphone jacks and a memory card slot for SD-compatible media.
Performance & battery life
The Lifebook S760's Windows Experience Index (WEI) of 4.5 (out of 7.9) does not really do justice to most of the ratings. The overall WEI rating corresponds to the lowest-scoring component, which in this case was Graphics (desktop performance for Windows Aero). All the other elements scored over 5, with a very acceptable 6.8 going to Processor (calculations per second).
The remaining subsystem scores were 5.2 for Gaming Graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance), 5.4 for Primary hard disk (Disk data transfer rate) and 5.9 for RAM (Memory operations per second).
Fujitsu suggests a battery runtime of up to 12 hours, but to get this you'll need to be using the main battery plus an optional second battery which lives in the modular bay normally occupied by the optical drive. With just the main battery in place Fujitsu suggest you will get up to 8 hours of life.
The aforementioned Eco mode system powers down idle components and reduces screen brightness to help reduce power consumption. Our regular battery asks notebooks to run a movie for as long as possible, and in the S760's case we chose the balanced power plan and left the screen brightness at its default setting. This is actually quite low and may be too low for many users. Under these conditions, the S670 lasted for just over three hours. For the record, Fujitsu's claim for the 6-cell 5,200mAh battery is 8 hours (MobileMark 2007).
Speaker volume is not particularly loud, so this may not be the notebook to choose if you're looking for something to deliver presentations to small groups.
Fujitsu's Lifebook S760 is a very serviceable notebook. It's well built, apart from the rather flexible lid option on our review sample, and has enough functionality to satisfy the needs of most business travellers.