Hey, good lookin’. Fujitsu is late to the netbook party, but dressed for the occasion: The new Fujitsu M2010 flaunts a glossy fire-engine/candy-apple red lid and palmrest, the former decorated with a big, bold rendition of the company’s infinity-symbol logo. It’s arguably the sharpest style in the netbook swarm.
Something else that’s easy on the eyes is the unit’s screen, a 10.1-inch, LED-backlit panel that’s one of the brightest in its class, even with the backlight dialed down to save battery power, with rich, saturated colors and sharp details.
Its resolution is a bit skimpy at 1,024 by 576 pixels — as on the HP Mini 2140 we reviewed in March, it’s a number chosen for fashion or marketing reasons, namely the 16:9 aspect ratio of HD video, on a netbook that’ll likely never be used for HD entertainment (and is over 330,000 pixels shy of 720p resolution anyway). But even though we consider other netbooks’ 1,024 by 600 more sensible, we’ll award the Fujitsu’s display best in class.
Still another attraction is the M2010’s portability. At 2.5 pounds, the 7.4 by 10.2 by 1.3-inch system is one of the lightest among lightweight travelers, saving half a pound or more over many of its peers. It’s no burden in a briefcase even when accompanied by its AC adapter (three-quarters of a pound).
So is Fujitsu the new king of the netbook category? Unfortunately not, for two reasons. One is a price that’s a little higher than the norm, and the other is battery life that falls short of spec.
That price is $449, which isn’t outrageous but is $49 above the almost universal or knee-jerk answer when someone asks, “How much does a netbook cost?” Fujitsu points out that the M2010 — just M2010; the machine doesn’t wear the LifeBook label of the company’s laptops — includes Bluetooth as well as the usual 802.11b/g wireless. Point taken, but so does the Asus Eee PC 1000HE we nominated as our all-around favorite netbook in May, and the 1000HE has a street price of $380.
The battery issue is more serious. The flip side of the Fujitsu’s light weight is its relatively puny 3-cell battery pack, which lasted only one hour plus forty to fifty minutes in our real-world work sessions. That’s the kind of unplugged life we’d expect from a jumbo-screened desktop replacement, not a netbook. To perform acceptably for the category, we suspect, the M2010 would need to be fitted with its optional 6-cell battery, raising its price another $129 (a spare 3-cell pack is $109).
As for otherwise acceptable performance, the Fujitsu loads and runs programs snappily enough for netbooks’ traditional light-to-moderate office productivity and online browsing and e-mailing applications. That’s not a surprise, because its 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, Intel 945GSE integrated-graphics chipset, 1GB of RAM, and 160GB hard disk (in this case a 5,400-rpm Fujitsu drive) are all familiar from other vendors’ boilerplate or cookie-cutter netbook recipes.
The M2010 places toward the back of the pack in benchmark tests, posting a score of 1,148 in PCMark05 (CPU 1,17; memory 2,300; hard disk 4,552; graphics 519) and 384 in PC Wizard‘s global performance metric. Like other netbooks’, its 945GSE graphics are embarrassingly unable to play the simplest games (3DMark06 score 77).
A vent for the Fujitsu’s audible but not annoying cooling fan is on the system’s left side, along with VGA and USB 2.0 ports. Two more USB ports are at the right, as are an Ethernet port, headphone and microphone jacks, and a Secure Digital/Memory Stick flash-card slot.
With many netbooks sporting 92- and 95-percent full-sized keyboards, the M2010 settles for 90 percent — a 17.2mm key pitch, with the A through apostrophe keys spanning a hair under seven and a quarter inches versus a desktop’s eight. It’s a slight but noticeable squeeze compared to the 7.5 inches of the Eee 1000HE, requiring more conscious, careful fingerwork yet still suitable for touch typing. The keyboard’s typing feel is good, as is the smooth response of the touchpad, although the latter’s mouse buttons are noisy.
Right now, we can’t recommend the Fujitsu, but with its red-hot red to catch and its stunning screen to hold the eye, the system needs only one change to be fully competitive in the crowded netbook market: Make the 6-cell battery standard equipment. That would eliminate the M2010’s biggest disappointment, leaving its screen to win over shoppers bemused by its slightly higher price.
And if Fujitsu dared to offer the unit with a bigger battery and a $50 lower price? We’d be introducing you to our new favorite netbook.
On a 5-star scale:
Article courtesy of Hardware Central.