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Fujitsu Siemens LifeBook P7120

  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent

Pros

  • Slim and lightweight
  • bay for optical drive or second battery
  • widescreen display
  • good keyboard
  • fingerprint recognition
  • quiet in operation (no fan)
  • excellent battery life

Cons

  • Screen is very reflective

Fujitsu Siemens’ LifeBook P Series of ultraportable notebooks includes the P1510 Tablet PC which we reviewed in October 2005 and the P7010, predecessor of the P7120 reviewed here, which won an Editors' Choice award back in August 2004.

Design

Styled in black and slate grey, the LifeBook P7120 has a tidy appearance and is extremely lightweight -- just 1.28kg if you remove its optical drive, and 1.44kg with the drive. A second battery can take the place of the optical drive for longer life away from mains power. The P7120's dimensions are suitably trim, too: 27.1cm wide by 20.9cm deep by 2.43-2.83cm high.

The LifeBook P7120 has a widescreen format, which not only allows you to have two documents open at once, but also means there's room for 26cm of keyboard width. The keys deliver a reassuring ‘click’ when pressed, are large and very clearly marked. Typing at speed is not a problem.

The function keys are half height, and the touchpad, although relatively small, is very responsive. Beneath it sit two almost square mouse buttons, with the swipe area for the built-in fingerprint recognition nestling between them. Fingerprint recognition can be used independently of, or in conjunction with, the Trusted Platform Module that's integrated as standard for both device and network access security.

The display measures 10.6in. across the diagonal and delivers a native resolution of 1,280 by 768 pixels. It's nice and clear, but Fujitsu Siemens’ Crystal View layer, which helps with the sharpness, leaves the screen looking shiny and with a degree of reflectiveness we found difficult when working with a light source behind us.

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Features

The LifeBook P7120 has Intel’s 1.2GHz Pentium M Ultra Low Voltage (ULV) 753 processor at its heart, along with the 915GMS chipset and a somewhat disappointing 512MB of DDR2 SDRAM; memory can be expanded to a maximum of 1GB via a second 512MB module in the spare DIMM slot. Graphics are integrated into the chipset, and wireless networking is provided by Intel’s PRO/Wireless 2915 a/b/g module. Bluetooth (version 1.2) is also present. The hard drive is a 60GB Toshiba unit with a workmanlike rotation speed of 4,200rpm.

As already noted, Fujitsu Siemens has managed to fit an optical drive -- a Fujitsu DVD rewriter -- into the system. There is even room, on the same (right-hand) side, for a USB 2.0 connector and flash memory reader that accepts SD, xD and Memory Stick cards. The mains power adapter is also on the right-hand side.

Most of the remaining ports and connectors are on the left-hand side. These comprise two further USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire (IEEE 1394) port, modem (RJ-11) and Ethernet (RJ-45) jacks, an S-Video out port and a single Type II PC card slot. The headphone and microphone ports are the only connectors on the front edge. There are twin microphones either side of the screen, so you can record in stereo should you so wish. The system's stereo speakers sit at the back, on either side of the battery pack.

When the lid is opened, a portion of the casing remains visible beneath the screen, and this is where the power button, status lights, an on/off switch for wireless networking and a button marked 'ECO' are located. Pressing the latter turns off the media drives and the FireWire port and dims the screen backlight, in order to prolong battery life.

The LifeBook P7120 runs extremely quiet as it lacks a cooling fan. Instead of a fan, liquid-cooled pipes run through the inside of the system, dissipating the heat. This seemed to work well during the review period, and we appreciated the lack of noise.

Performance & battery life
As far as performance and battery life are concerned, the LifeBook P7120 is in the same ballpark as Sony's recently reviewed VAIO VGN-TX2XP/L, but slightly behind on both counts. On the application-based MobileMark 2002 test, the P7120 scored 155 to the VAIO's 161, while battery life was closer -- 5 hours 3 minutes compared to 5 hours 13 minutes. In a nutshell, performance is adequate and battery life is excellent -- a reasonable state of affairs for an ultraportable system designed to run mainstream applications for as long as possible away from a mains power source.

There are few bells and whistles built into the LifeBook P7120, which concentrates instead on being a solid yet usable ultraportable. The widescreen format is welcome, as are the swappable optical drive, the security features, the responsive keyboard and the lack of a noisy fan.