Fujitsu P770 LifeBook

Fujitsu's tiny Core i7 system is all business. Don't expect flashy graphics performance or shiny case designs, but as a spreadsheet-crunching machine with good portability it's highly suitable.


7.5
CNET Rating


Design

Fujitsu doesn't typically target the home user with its LifeBook designs. If anything, the company's taken over the mantle that IBM/Lenovo used to carry with notebooks that look all business. Despite its small size and weight (282x215x29mm, 1.4kg) the P770 continues this tradition, with a very simple black and silver design. As with most ultraportable notebooks, key size isn't huge but it's markedly better than most netbook keyboards.

Features

What marks the P770 out as interesting isn't so much the exterior as what lies inside. To date, most of the Core i7-based notebooks we've seen have been pitched at the desktop replacement market, and as such have tended to be big and heavy beasts. The smaller P770 sports an Intel Core i7 1.20GHz 640UM processor. That's a low-power "Arrandale" chip, which means Fujitsu's playing a balancing game here. Core i7 processors should deliver better performance but may suck up more power doing so. By utilising a low-power CPU some of that power drain is mitigated, but at the cost of some of that same performance.

Processor aside, the P770 we tested with came with 4GB of RAM, Intel's GMA HD graphics chip, a 12.1-inch 1280x800-pixel screen and a 5400rpm 500GB hard drive. In keeping with the LifeBook's business-centric nature, Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition is pre-installed. On the networking side, gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n is supported, with in-built 3G as an optional extra. Ports include three USB 2.0, HDMI, SDHC, ExpressCard/54 and audio in/out.

If you like bundled software, you'll like the LifeBook, which lists in its manifest the following applications pre-installed: CyberLink PowerDVD, CyberLink PowerDirector, CyberLink YouCam, Roxio Media Creator, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Fujitsu UpdateNavi, Fujitsu Hardware Diagnostic Tool, Fujitsu Display Manager, Fujitsu One Click Internet, Fujitsu 3D Shock Sensor Utility, Fujitsu Power Saving Utility, Fujitsu Hotkey Utility, Fujitsu Silence Utility, Battery Utility, My Recovery, Softex OmniPass (optional with Fingerprint Sensor), Sun Microsystems Java Runtime and Windows Live Essentials (Windows Live Messenger, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Call, Windows Live Writer).

That's either a lot of software goodness or a massive headache uninstalling the bits you don't want.

Performance

One thing we did notice carrying the P770 around was how sensitive the hard drive shock sensor really is. Setting up the battery video test we moved the P770 onto a spare bench, and watched it stutter several times as it parked the drive heads repeatedly to prevent crashes. That could limit its appeal if you're a heavy commuter doing heavy processing work on the train. Otherwise as an ultraportable, it's quite enjoyable to use with good key response and a clear display screen.

On the benchmark front, the decision to go with the lower power Core i7 and integrated Intel graphics did hurt the P770's comparative scores somewhat. It scored 3770 in PCMark05 and 1255 in 3DMark06. For the target market for this kind of device, those scores are hardly likely to be a worry.

The trade-off for that performance is meant to be battery life. Fujitsu rates the P770 as having up to 6.5 hours battery life, and approximately 50 per cent more if the Eco button power-saving utility is enabled for a total theoretical life of nine hours and 45 minutes. Our standard battery testing eschews "up to" figures and instead goes in hard to work out a theoretical worst battery-life figure, disabling all battery-saving measures, pumping up the screen brightness and looping a full screen video with audio. Under those test conditions, the P770 lasted a reasonable three hours, four minutes and 10 seconds. It's not terribly likely that the P770 will see much usage as a video display machine, so you could comfortably expect a bit more battery life than that if you're just chucking around spreadsheets all day.

Conclusion

The P770 pitches itself clearly at the business crowd. As a no-nonsense small performer it works well and is solidly built. There are better alternatives if you want truly exceptional battery life, although few in this form factor at this performance point. At the same time, like many ultraportables outside the netbook space, you pay a premium for that.

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