Fujitsu Siemens LifeBook P1510

  • Editors' rating
    7.4 Very good

Pros

  • Very small and light
  • passive touch-screen
  • 802.11 a/b/g wireless

Cons

  • Small keyboard and screen
  • moderate battery life with the standard 3-cell unit

Fujitsu Siemens is a Tablet PC specialist, producing both slate-style devices like the Stylistic ST5022 and convertibles such as the LifeBook T4010C. The company 's latest offering is a diminutive convertible system that in clamshell mode rivals Toshiba’s Libretto U100, while in Tablet PC mode is somewhat thicker that Motion Computing's slate-style LS800. At first glance at least, the P1510 has all the design panache we expect from Fujitsu Siemens.

Design

The most notable aspect of the LifeBook P1510 is, of course, its size. Measuring just 23.2cm wide by 16.7cm deep by 3.4-3.7cm high, this notebook looks small even when placed against the smallest ultraportable: Fujitsu Siemens also claims that this 1kg system is the lightest convertible Tablet PC available.

As with all convertible Tablet PCs, the screen swivels on a central hinge to lay flat on the keyboard, display outermost. In this format the system is easy to hold in one hand while prodding at the near-A5-size screen with the other. The screen measures 8.9in. across the diagonal and has a native resolution of 1,024 by 600 pixels. The widescreen format cannot quite accommodate two documents at once when the LifeBook P1510 is used in clamshell mode, which is a pity.

If the keyboard were any smaller we’d have to pronounce it unusable for touch-typing, but we found it just about OK. The QWERTY and number keys are 15mm wide and 13mm high, while the function keys slightly smaller; the whole keyboard uses as much of the available width as possible.

People with large hands may find the keyboard just a bit too small for comfort. We found it took a little while to achieve precision with the trackpoint positioned between the G, H and B keys and the three mouse buttons beneath the keyboard, but the arrangement felt comfortable enough after a little practice.

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Features

Unlike the majority of Tablet PCs, the LifeBook P1510 uses a passive touch-sensitive screen that can be activated by any hard object -- a fingernail, for example -- and not just the provided stylus. There is a stylus, of course, which lives in a spring-loaded compartment on the front right-hand edge of the system (when viewed in clamshell mode).

The LifeBook P1510 is powered by an ultra-low-voltage 1.2GHz Pentium M 753 processor, supported by the 915GMS chipset with its integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900 module. For wireless connectivity you get 802.11 a/b/g and Bluetooth 1.2 -- both can be switched on and off via a button on the right edge of the system. The system's 512MB of RAM (expandable to a maximum of 1GB) and 60GB hard drive mean that it's unlikely to be stretched by general workaday activities.

Because of its small overall size, the LifeBook P1510 can’t accommodate an optical drive: if you need one, an external USB 2.0 multi-format DVD rewriter is available (the quoted £1,233 ex. VAT price includes this option). Another optional extra is a 6-cell 5,200mAh battery (£38 ex. VAT) that protrudes slightly from the front of the system when fitted. The standard 3-cell 2,600mAh battery provides a claimed 3 hours of life, while the larger unit doubles this, according to Fujitsu Siemens.

As far as connectivity options are concerned, the right side houses an SD card slot and a USB connector, while the left side is home to a CompactFlash card slot, microphone and headphones sockets, and a second USB connector. On the back edge are Ethernet (RJ45) and modem (RJ11) jacks and a VGA-out port. The built-in microphone is sensibly located on the left edge of the fascia.

Security is taken care of by a fingerprint sensor, located to the left of the screen. As well as software to manage fingerprint recognition, Fujitsu Siemens bundles Dial Keys, which puts touch-sensitive keypads on-screen for entering numbers and letters; a range of ‘skins’ for this program provide different alphanumeric arrangements, such as a vertical number pad or two semicircles of letters and characters arranged to the bottom left and right of the screen.

Corel’s Grafigo, a vector-based drawing application, is also included, plus a wireless LAN management utility called Odyssey that allows you to set up wireless LAN profiles for working in different environments. Fujitsu Siemens also adds a set of shortcuts to many settings normally found in the control panel. A copy of Norton Ghost and a year’s worth of F-Secure antivirus rounds things off.

The LifeBook P1510 runs Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005 (with Service Pack 2), which includes the Windows Journal program we used to test handwriting recognition via the P1510's passive screen. We encountered no more problems than usual, and the conversion rate from handwriting to editable text was good.

Performance & battery life

Ultraportable notebooks like the LifeBook P1510 always represent a compromise between size and usability, a case in point being USB ports: we'd have liked more than two on the system itself, but it would be hard to find room for them. To get more USB connectivity (two extra ports), you'll need the optional port replicator (£36 ex. VAT), which also includes an Ethernet (RJ45) port and a VGA connector.

The 8.9in. screen is not really suitable for viewing large spreadsheets or complex documents, while the keyboard may be just to small for some users to cope with comfortably. However, when used in tablet mode, the compact and lightweight P1510 is easy to cradle in one arm.

We like the passive touch-screen, as it's often more convenient to prod the screen with a finger than use the stylus. On the other hand, an active screen provides better accuracy, plus support for left and right mouse click emulation.

The LifeBook P1510 ran hot on its underside beneath the processor. Fujitsu Siemens says the final model will have more insulating material here than our review system provided.

Performance-wise, the 1.2GHz/512MB P1510 with integrated graphics is equipped to handle mainstream tasks such office document production, Web browsing and email. Its MobileMark 2002 Productivity score of 149 is no disgrace, but is nowhere what a top performer would deliver (well over 200). If you insist on running heavy duty content creation applications or games, be prepared for sluggishness -- not to mention eye-strain.

Battery life is more worrying. With the standard 3-cell 2,600mAh unit, MobileMark 2002 reported just 2 hours and 8 minutes, which is pretty restrictive for the mobile professional at whom the P1510 is clearly targeted. To get more uptime, you'll need to implement more restrictive power management settings (we ran in desktop mode with a middling screen brightness), or opt for the 6-cell 5,200mAh battery, which delivered a more respectable 4 hours and 19 minutes' life. The trade-off, of course, is that the 6-cell unit pushes the system weight well over 1kg.

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