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When you are on the move, even a laptop can be cumbersome, yet at the same time you don't want to suffer trying to work with a microscopic PDA screen -- you've got work to do! A Tablet PC like the Fujitsu LifeBook T2010 allows users to continue being productive even while on their feet, in the office or in the field.
How We Tested
Aside from the usual performance benchmarks, PCMark 2005, BatteryEater, 3DMark 06, and Sandra Pro, we also consider a number of physical design issues. PCMark assesses the machine's general capacity for office productivity. BatteryEater assesses the machines battery life -- during this test the machine is set to give priority to energy saving over efficiency. (Running in "reading mode" BatteryEater calculates a battery life very similar to that of BAPCo MobileMark). 3DMark and Cinebench are indicators of the machines graphics capabilities.
We use Sandra Pro to give some specific figures on processor, memory and drive performance. Usability issues include location (and type) of ports and buttons as well image quality and additional software utilities. Construction elements of interest are screen support and hinging as well as case material quality. Image and sound quality are also considered along with the software included with the machine.
Outfitted in black, the LifeBook is lightweight and sleek and can be used as a laptop or tablet. Weighing in at 1.6kg, it is certainly light for a notebook, but I suspect it would feel pretty heavy cradled in your arm for an hour or two!
Including the bezel, the screen is the same size as a sheet of A4 paper. In tablet mode the LifeBook has five function keys exposed, giving the user access to such features as a calculator, notepad and Ctrl-Alt-Del options, as well as screen orientation. The fingerprint reader is also accessible in this mode. As a laptop, it employs a fairly compact (84-key) keyboard -- space is saved by assigning keys dual functions. Users of larger keyboards will have a little adjusting to do.
The 12-inch, WXGA touchscreen has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. Fujitsu claim it's designed for indoor and outdoor use and we were pleased at just how easy the screen was to read out in the sun (obviously you are better off keeping the screen out of direct sunlight however). The antireflective coating is certainly a lifesaver here though it does tend to smudge very easily -- which is typical of these coatings. Images were sharp and bright with good colour reproduction and text was very clear. The screen can be oriented in four directions at the touch of a button.
We appreciated the way the screen responds to the position of the stylus even without having to touch the surface of the screen ... although not being able to use a finger tip is a little disappointing. With the support of Windows Vista Business users are free to write notes in a relatively natural fashion and have them transcribed automatically into typed text. (However this does require a certain amount of teaching the software for reliable results.) The sound quality from the speaker was adequate, but hardly stunning coming as it did from a single tiny speaker at the lower right edge of the keyboard.
One of the drawbacks of such small and light devices is the lack of features that goes with such restricted real estate. There is no internal optical drive and only two USB ports. Yet Fujitsu still managed to fit in an external VGA port, PCMCIA slot, smartcard reader, MemoryStick/SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet Firewire and audio-in/out. (And don't forget the fingerprint reader mentioned earlier.) The lifebook also supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. A docking port on the underside allows for wider input/output options.
The design is attractive, but complex functionality leads to a certain fragility. The screen is supported by a single swivel-hinge allowing for the device's dual operating modes, but there is little to prevent movement of the lid when knocked about. We are concerned that damage to the hinge and its surrounds could result from a serious knock. More positively, the screen backing, while seemingly unsupportive, did not allow images to smear when the screen was under stress.
As tested, the T2010 was supplied with a 1.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U7600 processor and 2GB of RAM. Available with an internal hard drive of up to 160GB, this unit was supplied with a 120GB one. The drive has a shock protection system which lifts the head from the disk surface when sudden movement is detected.
Windows Vista serves up a Windows Experience Index of 3.1 -- a score limited by graphics performance. The processor, memory and HDD scored 4.4, 4.3 and 4.5 respectively. Naturally this is a mobile-work-horse not a gaming machine, it relies on the onboard Intel GMA X3100 chip for graphics handling. The machine is able to handle standard graphics and video. What really counts -- processor speed and memory capacity -- make this a very effective business tool.
Under regular usage you can expect at least four hours of battery life with the standard six-cell pack. Additionally, a nine-cell pack is available. Remember that heavy processor/drive usage can shorten the battery far more quickly. Nevertheless this is a reasonable result.
The warranty is a full two years and includes pick-up and delivery anywhere in Australia. While tablet PCs don't tend to come cheap, the LifeBook T2010 at AU$3,299 compares favourably with other models in this regard. It isn't hard to spend AU$4,000 or more in this space.
Overall we feel this is an decent product for anyone who needs access to a computer while on their feet. It is small and lightweight and yet has the capacity to perform and as a full featured notebook and while the lack of an internal optical drive is a drawback, attaching an external drive or docking station is a simple matter.