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Very configurable, including mobile broadband option
Disappointing battery life
Fujitsu's Lifebook range of laptops includes several aimed primarily at mobile professionals. Lifebooks are the only widely available laptops to include biometric login based on palm vein patterns, and they typically incorporate a variety of ports and connectors -- including legacy ones -- that allows them to fit into diverse office environments. Here we're examining the 13.3-inch Lifebook U7310, which runs on a 10th generation Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processors.
Fujitsu doesn't tend to pursue stylish design or audio-visual features that allow a laptop to be marketed as good for both home and work use. Instead, the focus is primarily on business use cases. That doesn't mean the manufacturer holds back on features: like others in the range, the Lifebook U7310 has a sliding privacy cover for its webcam, sophisticated palm vein biometrics, and an array of legacy ports that's rarely found on a laptop these days.
The Lifebook U7310 is a small and light laptop that fits a 13.3-inch screen into a chassis measuring 311.4mm wide by 216.8mm deep by 19.2mm thick, with a starting weight of 1.17kg. It slips neatly into a small backpack, even if encased in a protective sleeve. Despite being relatively lightweight, the Lifebook U7310 is MIL-STD-810G compliant, so it should withstand the spills and knocks that come with life on the road.
The exterior of the chassis is black, but open it up and the eye is drawn to a brilliant red flash along the bottom of the keyboard -- a characteristic Fujitsu feature. The flash dips down on the right to provide room for the cursor keys, which are larger than you might expect to find on such a small laptop. A little wrist rest space is sacrificed, but this will be a good trade-off if you make heavy use of these keys.
The keyboard itself fits nicely into its small area, with a two-stage backlight accessible via the Fn key/spacebar combination. The Enter key is wide and double height, the Fn keys are surprisingly large, and the QWERTY keys are well spaced. Keys depress a relatively long way and spring back nicely, giving a good action that supports fast touch-typing. There's no flex in the keyboard, and my only criticism is the 'clack' sound the keys make, which is noticeable in quieter working environments. Talking of noise, the fan is also loud when it kicks in, which I found disturbing.
The touchpad is necessarily small, but it will take the cursor fully across the width of the screen in one sweep. There's a pair of physical buttons beneath the touchpad, which are tactile and responsive.
This is a highly configurable laptop that can be built to customers' specifications. These can include an FHD (1,920 x 1,080) touchscreen or, if affordability is paramount, a 1,366-by-768 screen. My £1,399 (ex. VAT) review unit had a non-touch FHD screen with an anti-glare finish. The screen sits inside what, by today's standards, are pretty deep bezels -- especially along the top and bottom. This is not a convertible laptop, but the screen does hinge back far enough to lie flat on a desk.
The audio subsystem is slightly disappointing. There are two speakers, with tiny grilles above the keyboard, that deliver reasonable volume and fair quality sound. They're fine for video calls, for example, but not really up to work presentations or after-hours video watching.
There are good device security features. The webcam has a sliding privacy cover, while the PalmSecure biometric system is regarded as more secure than fingerprint-, face- or iris-based security, and is highly accurate (Fujitsu says it has a false rejection rate of just 0.01%). Fujitsu also employs its ePrivacy Filter to obscure the screen when it's viewed at an angle. This is invoked by tapping one of the Fn keys and has a very slight dimming effect on the screen when viewed head on, but anyone sitting next to you will have to lean right in to read the screen. It's not a total solution, as someone can read the screen if they are standing behind you and looking over your shoulder.
All configurations run on Windows 10 Home and rely on integrated Intel UHD Graphics. Processor options top out at an Intel Core i7-10510U (which was in my review unit), with up to 40GB of RAM in support (I had 16GB). SSD storage goes up to 1TB (my review unit had 512GB).
Mobile broadband is an option, and was present on my review unit, with the SIM slot sitting under a removable battery. The option to swap in a fresh battery will be useful for mobile professionals needing guaranteed all-day battery life.
Fujitsu says the battery will run for up to 13 hours 20 minutes (or 10 hours with the ePrivacy Filter enabled), but my battery test suggests that a second battery could be a wise investment. I ran the Lifebook U7310 from a full charge for one three-hour session, during which I streamed web content and music, wrote into web applications and had several other applications running. During this period, the battery dropped from full to 45%. On this basis, it would not see me through a full working day without access to mains power.
As noted earlier, Fujitsu Lifebooks typically incorporate a wide range of ports and connectors, and there's plenty on offer here. There's a neat bit of chassis styling where the back half of the base is much thicker than the front half, which allows the laptop to accommodate relatively large legacy ports. The left edge houses the power supply's round-pin connector, a full-size HDMI port, USB 3, USB-C with DisplayPort, and a SmartCard reader. The thicker rear section comes into its own on the right edge, where you'll find Ethernet (RJ-45) and VGA, as well as a second USB 3 port and a 3.5mm headset jack. You'll also find an SD card reader on the front edge.
The Fujitsu Lifebook U7310 is a neatly designed ultraportable laptop that's both lightweight and solid, with MIL-STD certification. It has a good range of legacy ports, palm-based biometrics, a screen privacy feature and sliding camera cover, can accommodate both a SmartCard reader and SD card reader, and offers mobile broadband as an option.
The screen and speakers are unremarkable, and while Fujitsu is to be praised for using a removable battery, its longevity isn't particularly impressive. Those who like a very quiet working environment might also find the clacky keyboard and fan too loud.