Fujitsu LifeBook N7010: Two Screens

The Fujitsu LifeBook laptop has both a 16-inch, HD-ready CrystalView screen and a 4-inch-diagonal touch screen that Fujitsu calls a touch zone.
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This can't be right. Fujitsu says its new desktop replacement notebook has a cinematic 16:9-aspect-ratio screen for watching high-definition videos or Blu-ray movies. This LCD divides out to 16:9 all right, but its resolution is too low. And it's only 4 inches big, for God's sake, you need to squint to see the actors and --

Oh. Sorry. Our bad. We were looking at the wrong screen. The other one is a good 16 inches diagonally. The Blu-ray player works fine with it.

For $1,499, the Fujitsu LifeBook N7010 is a laptop that gives you two displays. The main screen is a 16-inch, HD-ready CrystalView panel with 1,366 by 768 resolution (though HD snobs will sniff that Fujitsu's definition of high definition is 720p rather than 1080p).

Between the big display and the keyboard, you'll find a second screen -- a 4-inch-diagonal touch screen that Fujitsu calls a touch zone. This space offers a choice of two default applications: a slide show of your digital photos, which lets you flick a finger left or right to page through pics iPhone-style, or a customizable launcher for starting any of 15 favorite programs with the tap of a finger.

If neither of those options tickles your fancy, you can use Windows' Display Settings to extend your desktop to the mini screen just as you might when working with a notebook and external monitor.

Easier still, click on a translucent tab at the bottom (or side or top if you like) of the main display, and you'll see a menu of active applications that can be shrunk to the second screen by mouse-clicking an icon (not by tapping a finger; we occasionally forgot ourselves and followed one or two taps of the little LCD with a useless attempt to tap its non-touch-sensitive sibling).

Except for Mahjong Titans, which caused a violent system crash, we tried a variety of programs on the demi-display and came away with mixed feelings. Keeping something like a webcam chat or Skype open without occupying primary screen space is a nice bonus, as is the handy application launcher. It occurred to us that a mini touch screen could be a nice adjunct to a notebook for occasional handwriting input or capturing signatures UPS-style (a literal security sign-on?), though the Fujitsu's doesn't support that.

But for the most part, while we're very much in favor of the idea of adding a second or third screen for multitasking productivity, the LifeBook's is too small to be productive. It was fun the first time we shrank a Blu-ray movie to the size of a business card -- Windows maps the touch screen's 480 by 272 pixels to a scaled-down 960 by 544, so you can put Control Panel or an image-editing palette or a whole spreadsheet there -- but menus and icons and the cursor become too tiny to see, let alone click on with the touchpad, let alone poke with a fingertip relatively the size of the Statue of Liberty's.

Well Equipped

Fortunately, the N7010 has other, more practical attractions. For one, it's a handsome machine, a squared-off slab with a glossy black granite finish. At 7.5 pounds, it's too heavy for an everyday commute, but for occasional travel its 16-inch widescreen form factor (10.9 by 15.2 by 2.2 inches) lets it squeeze into briefcases that won't fit a traditional 17-inch lug of a laptop.

The Matshushita optical drive -- a combo BD-ROM and DVD±RW, able to burn CDs and DVDs but just to play, not record, Blu-ray discs -- occupies the system's left side. Four USB 2.0 ports, single FireWire and eSATA ports, microphone and headphone jacks, and an ExpressCard slot are at the right.

There's a Secure Digital/Memory Stick flash card slot up front. At the rear, a VGA port for plugging in an old monitor sits next to an HDMI port for plugging in a new HDTV set or monitor, with a Gigabit Ethernet port alongside.

Next Page: Pricey, but Capable


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