- ✓Stylish looks
- ✓good build quality, including an alloy lid
- ✓3-year collect and return warranty.
- ✕Intermittent cooling fan noise
- ✕no floppy drive as standard
- ✕fairly expensive.
Fujitsu Siemens knows a thing or two about notebook design, and its products tend to have a classy, upmarket look to them. The new E-Series Lifebook is no exception: the E2010’s colour scheme of light and dark metallic greys matches rather than shows up the keyboard, and the overall lines work well. Just what you’d expect from a German/Japanese technology company, in fact.The Lifebook E2010 is a fairly typical A4-ish size, weighs 2.95kg and measures 3.7cm thick, so it's portable but not designed with the regular traveller uppermost in mind. It may be easy on the eye, but the E2010 is also reasonably robust, with a solid metal alloy lid protecting the screen, and a well-built main body that feels as though it will cope with the vagaries of everyday use.
We looked at the most powerful model, based on Intel's 2.4GHz Mobile Pentium 4-M supported by a realistic 256MB of PC2100 DDR SDRAM. Our review sample came with a 20GB hard disk, but production versions will have 40GB drives. You don't get a floppy drive -- the system is a two-spindle design, and if you need the external USB floppy it costs £31 (ex. VAT) extra. Wi-Fi (802.11b) wireless networking is built in as standard however, along with infrared and conventional 10/100 Base-TX networking, plus a 56Kbps internal modem. Expansion potential comes in two forms: a pair of Type II PC Card slots set into the left side of the case; and a multi-purpose bay on the right. In our review sample, this held a CD-RW/DVD combo drive (24X/8X CD/DVD play; 16X/10X CD-R/RW record), but you can opt for alternative optical drives or a second battery pack (£86 ex. VAT) for longer running time on the move. While we're on the subject, the E2010's primary 3,800mAh Li-ion battery will keep it alive for nearly 2.5 hours under normal use (BatteryMark 4.01 returned a figure of 2 hours 24 minutes). This is adequate rather than spectacular. When back at base, you are treated to a decent array of ports for your peripherals, including parallel and 9-pin serial as well as two USB connectors and an S-Video TV output. The E2010 also has an expansion bus for use with an optional port replicator (£69 ex. VAT), which can make life much easier if you do need to move the machine around regularly. In use, the E2010 proved to be an amiable enough companion, thanks to a logical keyboard layout incorporating large keys where they are appropriate (Enter, Backspace and Spacebar in particular), and a pleasant, lightly positive action on a solid base plate. The screen is a standard 14.1in. 1,024 by 768 resolution TFT, which provides the familiar, practical XGA workspace with plenty of illumination and no visible defects.
When we put the E2010 through its paces, we noticed that it wasn't quite as fast as we were expecting, although not to a worrying degree. Closer inspection showed that the hard disk wasn't as quick as it could have been -- something we expect to be corrected by the faster 40GB drives fitted to production models. The ATI Radeon IGP 340M graphics also seemed to be running slow, despite being given 32MB of system memory for its own use. This was particularly noticeable in 3D mode, where the 3DMark 2001 test returned a poor score of 902 (32-bit XGA). It's possible that the next driver release might have a beneficial effect here. Even so, the overall Business Winstone 2001 score of 38.2 is hardly a heel-dragging performance, and as we've noted, this was a (late) pre-production sample, so some tweaking and improvement is likely. Which leaves us with just the price to consider. On the face of it, £1,819 (ex. VAT) is a bit steep, but there's bound to be some discounting (especially on larger orders), and each machine does come with a three-year collect and return warranty as standard. Fujitsu Siemens has produced a decent corporate notebook, but the Lifebook E2010 doesn't particularly stand out from the crowd. You could argue that for a business system, good is good enough -- but these are not easy times, and manufacturers may eventually be forced to go the extra distance to make their products shine.