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Fujitsu Lifebook E558 review: Configurable and well-connected

sandra-vogel.jpg
Written by Sandra Vogel on
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8.0/10

Fujitsu Lifebook E558

Excellent
Pros
  • Matte screen
  • Highly configurable
  • Good battery life (and removable battery)
  • SD card reader
  • Smart Card and fingerprint scanner
  • Plenty of connections, including VGA
Cons
  • Chassis build could be better
  • Medicore audio quality
  • No touchscreen option
  • Editors' Review
  • Specs

Fujitsu has an extensive line-up of business laptops, the 15.6-inch Lifebook E558 being one of the larger models. It's not the kind of laptop you'll want to travel with regularly, but an integrated number pad and a large screen make it a good desktop replacement option.

Fujitsu tends to shy away from blingy design, but that does not mean its laptops lack distinction. The outer shell of the Lifebook E558 is dull black with Fujitsu's indented swirly logo barely visible on the lid. But open it up and you'll find a distinctive checkerboard pattern on the wrist rest that serves the dual function of providing visual interest and giving a tactile finish to what would otherwise be a smooth sheet of plastic. Meanwhile, a red strip runs along the bottom edge of the keyboard area that's mirrored in the default wallpaper. The strip is subtle, but like the checkerboard wrist rest it's a signature Fujitsu design feature.

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The 15.6-inch Lifebook E558 measures 379mm by 256mm by 23.9mm and weighs from 1.79kg. It's powered by 7th-generation Core i3, i5 or i7 processors.

Images: Fujitsu

The chassis is plastic and not particularly robust. There is quite a bit of flex in the lid, and my review sample creaked a little as I twisted it. I'd want to be very protective of this laptop, and if it does ever get carried from place to place, a sleeve might be a very good idea.

A big bag will be required if the Lifebook E558 is to be carried around. It has a footprint of 379mm by 256mm on the desktop. The weight starts at 1.79kg and the laptop is a 23.9mm thick, with lid alone accounting for 7mm. There's nothing 'thin and light' about this system.

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The 15.6-inch Lifebook E558 offers a good range of connections, including full-size Ethernet and VGA, plus a SmartCard reader.

Image: Fujitsu

The good news is that the base has room for a full-size RJ-45 Ethernet port and a VGA connector (both real rarities these days), which should endear the Lifebook E558 to business users. There are also full-size HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, two USB 3.1 ports and a USB-C port as well as a 3.5mm headset jack. It also pleasing to see an SD card reader on the front edge. It's probably not intentional, but placing the VGA connector next to the USB-C port lends a pleasing air of 'old meets new' to the layout.

Security conscious can add an optional fingerprint sensor on the wrist rest and a SmartCard slot on the left edge. My review sample had both as well as the mobile broadband support that's also an optional extra. The SIM lives under the removable -- yes, removable -- battery.

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The 15.6-inch IPS screen has a matte finish, which bucks the modern trend, in a good way: working in a reflection-free environment is a pleasure. There are some drawbacks though: maximum brightness is a little dull for my liking, and there's no touchscreen option available. The resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels on my review sample is good enough for everyday working, although the 1,366-by-768 option might prove more challenging.

By modern standards the screen bezel is pretty large at 15mm on the short edges, 20mm at the top and 26mm at the bottom (excluding the hinge area). Minimal bezels in a smaller chassis would improve this laptop's portability.

This is a traditional laptop without frills like a rotating screen -- it will go to 180 degrees and lay flat on a desk if necessary, but no further. Although the big screen could work for small-scale presentations, sound quality from the stereo speakers is rather tinny.

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The keyboard includes a separate number pad on the right-hand side. There's a fingerprint reader in the wrist-rest area.

Image: Fujitsu

The Lifebook E558 is large enough to have space for a number pad with full-size keys on the right-hand side of the keyboard. This is useful, but may take a little getting used to. The keyboard has a nice light feel, and the keys are large and well spaced. There is a little flex in the keyboard, but only the very heaviest-handed typists will notice it. The Fn keys are half-size but easy enough to hit, and I was easily able to reach my normal touch-typing speed. The keyboard backlight, which cycles through two brightness levels, is invoked by using the Fn key and spacebar together (a standard arrangement).

The touchpad is recessed and has wide and responsive physical buttons. It can be disabled with a Fn key, but there's no reminder light or other visual cue to indicate its status, so you'll have to remember that the touchpad isn't broken when the cursor fails to move but is simply switched off.

Nothing here breaks new ground, but the essentials are done well, and I'd be happy to use the keyboard/touchpad combo all day.

This is a configurable laptop with options for processor, hard drive, Windows version and display resolution, as well as security features and mobile broadband support.

My review sample came with an Intel Core-i5 8350U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, mobile broadband and SmartCard reader. It costs £1,027 (ex. VAT), while the entry-level version has a Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB physical hard drive, and costs £663 (ex. VAT).

fujitsu-lifebook-e558removable-battery.jpg

Unusually these days, the Lifebook E558's battery is removable. The SIM card slot for variants with mobile broadband support lives beneath the battery.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Fujitsu says the battery will deliver up to 10 hours of life. My experience during testing, running typical mainstream productivity workloads, suggest this estimate is about right. If you do decide to travel with this (somewhat bulky and heavy) laptop, you can ensure extra uptime by carrying a spare removable battery.

Conclusions

There's a lot to like about Fujitsu's Lifebook E558. The VGA and Ethernet ports, removable battery and matte screen are somewhat old-fashioned virtues, but none the worse for that, while the SmartCard option adds a security layer. The chassis could be more robust, audio quality isn't great, and a touchscreen option would be handy. But with starting price of just £663 (ex. VAT) this highly configurable laptop has a lot to recommend it.

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