In this age of $400 laptops, $1,499 is a formidable price, even with Blu-ray and a spare screen. Working diligently to justify the price tag, Fujitsu treats the N7010's spec sheet like a checklist: HDMI and eSATA ports? Yep. Webcam? Check. Bluetooth? Yes. Draft-N as well as 802.11b/g WiFi? Roger. Four gigabytes of DDR3 memory for Windows Vista Home Premium 64-Bit? Yep.
A more than adequately powerful processor? OK -- Intel's Core 2 Duo P8400, a 2.26GHz dual-core with 3MB of Level 2 cache and a 1066MHz front-side bus. A colossal hard drive? Not quite -- the Fujitsu drive is no pipsqueak, but, just as we might dream of one of the handful of CPUs above the P8400 on Intel's ladder, we might hope for something bigger than 320GB or faster than 5,400 rpm or both.
(We also noted that the hard drive was partitioned into a roughly 50GB drive C: and 250GB drive D: -- a smart move to segregate the operating system from user-installed applications, if the user is smart enough to pay attention and specify the partition instead of overflowing drive C: when installing software as we did.)
Similarly, crazed gamers will wish for a more outrageous graphics controller than AMD's ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3470, contemporary and DirectX 10-compatible GPU though it is.
Fitted with 256MB of dedicated GDDR3 memory plus up to 1.75GB borrowed from system RAM, the HD 3470 helped the LifeBook manage a playable 35 frames per second and less playable 23 fps in our Unreal Tournament 3 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars flybys, respectively. Both games were set to a bare-bones 1,024 by 768 resolution with no antialiasing or other glitzy effects.
Windows Vista gave it an Experience Index score of 4.5 on the built-in benchmark's 5.9-point scale, with PCMark Vantage and CrystalMark awarding values of 3,957 and 90,142, respectively. Its overall score in SysMark 2007 Preview was 121. Overall, the LifeBook flexed solid notebook-rather-than-netbook muscle, but landed only in the middle rather than top of the wide spectrum known as desktop PC performance.
In our favorite real-world benchmark, the LifeBook averaged about an hour and 40 minutes of battery life including DVD and CD playback. One low-stress word processing session stretched to two hours and five minutes, but the system dived from an indicated 30 percent to just 10 percent of battery life remaining -- and an automatic switch to hibernation mode -- within the last five minutes of that span.
While it doesn't have a desktop-style numeric keypad like some large laptops' keyboards, the Fujitsu has dedicated instead of double-teamed Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn as well as cursor arrow keys. The spill-resistant keyboard has a fairly good typing feel, but the keys take a relatively firm press or forceful tap to register -- a too-light touch cost us skipped letters, especially g's, during our first few days with the notebook.
We also grumble because the Delete key is not in the top right corner where it belongs: That position's been given to the useless Pause/Break key, with Delete one place over on its left.
The N7010's touchpad offers two ways to scroll -- a tilt switch between the two mouse buttons below it, plus the option of putting a fingertip on its right edge, then circling counter- or clockwise to scroll up or down. In another nod to the iPhone's gesture control, the pad also lets you place two fingers on its surface, and then pinch them together or spread them apart to zoom in and out of documents and images.
No grumbling is occasioned by the 16-inch display -- as long as you stick to the top two of its eight brightness settings, the screen combines rich colors with fine detail. The passive-digitizer touch screen above the keyboard is predictably grayer or duller but perfectly fine for its program-launching or utility-hosting duties.
Overall, the LifeBook N7010 strikes us as a solid if slightly pricey alternative to a desktop, especially -- thanks to the Blu-ray player and HDMI port -- if there's home entertainment as well as office work on the agenda. The touch zone is too small to boost productivity in the way that, say, the retractable, 10.6-inch second screen of Lenovo's ThinkPad W700ds is, but it's more fun than the usual strip of two or three multimedia keys or customizable buttons.
Fujitsu LifeBook N7010
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