Thursday, 20 May 2010

Fujitsu LIFEBOOK review

A solid competitive corporate laptop, some interesting ideas on their consumer models, a convertible tablet and introducing; ‘The Beast’, something for a largely ignored growth market, the silversurfers. Stay with me, I get the bad out of the way to progress onto the good….

So in the offices of MoreFrom I met the Fujitsu rep, who was rather excited to have received, only the day before, four brand new laptops to take to various merchants who sell Fujitsu products.

I was rather excited because I got to play with them. I’ll get the dull data bit out of the way and explain the models:

1) Fujitsu LIFEBOOK S710 Standard S
2) Fujitsu LIFEBOOK S760 Premium S
3) Fujitsu LIFEBOOK Convertible T900
4) Fujitsu LIFEBOOK NH570 18.4 inch Notebook

The S710, S760 and T900 tablet are a bit plastic feeling and looking, but certainly not as bad as some of the Sony Vaio products and I like the Green Pledge throughout their product range. I think Fujitsu could do well to invest in some seriously hot ergonomic designers and the product design in comparison to other products didn’t leave me breathless. This rang true of all four of the laptops I test drove.

I think they could also work on more synergy between their product range, as it didn’t look like a family, more like distant relatives who only see each other at weddings or funerals.

Two of the LIFEBOOKS had sort of retro off white keys with the rest of the product in black and silver, which aesthetically doesn’t work. The apparent standout feature of the S760 is the unique scroll wheel function, but we failed to get it to work and I came away not really understanding it’s point, other than someone in marketing using it as a USP. It’s certainly unique but I wouldn’t say a selling point. The S710 which was the standard laptop of the lot was my favourite in terms of product design, it looked much more current but lacks the power of the S760.

I’m not sure I understand the point of a tablet and this was compounded by the Fujitsu T900 ‘convertible’. It wasn’t particularly intuitive and got very heavy after a while, plus you’d need an accessory to tilt it if you put it down so it is better used as it should be, as a laptop.

The 18.4 inch ‘top of the range’ consumer LIFEBOOK NH570 or ‘the Beast’, as I liked to refer to it as, had what was described as a high gloss piano black. It held no appeal to me in terms of looks or size but that is more of a personal statement.

One major design flaw on ‘the Beast’ was that the screen wobbled incessantly, clearly the bevel and hinge were not designed to support the very top heavy 18.4 inch screen and you only have to tap it slightly to watch it wobble like a weeble, (but it doesn’t fall down).

Bad points aside, there are some pretty good bits. The S710, which has a nipple mouse, reminds me of the old black IBM’s which had a red nipple and was one of the best corporate laptops I ever owned. Speaking to some serious development techies, they all felt Fujistu’s were sturdy, reliable computers and would consider buying one again.

I would definitely recommend the S710 as a corporate laptop and it would be worth investing in the higher price over a Dell and I hate to say it, an HP as I believe you would have a better, longer, mutually beneficial relationship. Anyone who has tried to do presentations on an airplane over the duration of an eight hour flight would appreciate this laptop, which also has a good battery life and the option to add an extra battery if needed.

The graphics cards were pretty good on all of them and the sound was impressive when I put it to the test on jazz, classical and Mr Scruff, at full whack. There was no distortion, a personal bug bear of mine with many other products.

Having hung about some Fujitsu fan forums, most of them seemed lifelong fans although many were in agreement with me about the off white keys. There was a minor tussle between someone who felt they were good in low light settings and someone who just said, in that scenario backlit keys were better anyway. I got the feeling the person who liked them for low light settings doesn’t get out much.

I liked the feel of the S760 but I don’t think the price will stand up against other premium products and I think more work needs to be done on the scroll wheel as I was hard pressed to find anyone who could explain it’s point in any great detail.

I’m not a fan of the tablet but I can see uses for it, being able to turn the screen 180° in smaller arenas, for presentations would be useful and something I have wished I had the ability to do in the past. The design, look, feel and navigation needs more work before I would recommend it though.

‘The Beast’, whilst not to my personal taste, isn’t aimed at me. What I will say is with the increase of silversurfers it’s the perfect choice for them. With the large screen, full qwerty keyboard, good sized keys plus the fact that you remove the need for a PC with CPU and shed loads of cables, makes it a solid contender for those older generations who are just embarking upon their IT journeys.


  1. Phil Cladingbowl10 June 2010 at 00:42

    I had an IBM T42 before it was 'upgraded' to a Dell. It's good to know that the nipple is back as it was the quickest and best way of getting around and I much preferred/prefer it to a mouse pad.

    Speaking of mouse pads, my personal bug bear is that generally they are now being sited over to the left of the keyboard rather than in the middle. Why do this when most people use their right hand on the mouse pad/buttons?

  2. Well I enjoyed your review so far as it went, but it didn't go very far! Where's the specs, comments on how they operate, good, bad or sluggish, did the screens live up to their spec without blurring and did the anti-glare work well. How many USB ports were their and were they well positioned for use, were they any USB3? etc etc

  3. I appreciate the time you've taken to make comments. Phil I agree that the middle is the best place for the nipple and I'm a leftie!

    Anonymous, there are a gazillion detailed 'dry' spec based reviews on the internet, but I welcome your feedback and will try to bring a bit more functionality commentary through into my reviews.