Fujitsu's new Lifebook E Line laptops come in three sizes, but share accessories

Fujitsu aims to make it cheap and easy for businesses to keep a fleet of different-sized laptops on the road

Fujitsu promises that although the new business laptops in its Lifebook E Line come in screen sizes from 13.3 inches to 15.6 inches, all will use the same standard components, including the main board, drives for the modular expansion bay, and AC adapters.

By providing choices yet standardizing the components, BIOS software and accessories such as the drives and port replicator for the Lifebook E Line, Fujitsu hopes to combat the rising management costs and security risks it says enterprises face as employees bring their own devices to work.

The laptops will go on sale across Europe, the Middle East and Africa from Tuesday, the company said, and will be shown on its stand at the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany, through Saturday.

The smallest of the three new models, the Lifebook E733, has a 13.3-inch (33.8-centimeter), 1366 x 768 pixel screen and weighs 1.7 kilograms. There's a 14-inch (35.6-cm), 1600 x 900 pixel display on the midrange Lifebook E743, which weighs 1.9 kg. The largest of the three, the Lifebook E753, weighs over 2.1kg and has a 15.6-inch (39.6-cm) screen available in either 1366 x 768 pixel or 1920 x 1080 pixel resolutions.

The motherboard, common to all three models, includes Gigabit Ethernet, an SD Card slot and three USB 3.0 ports. It can be equipped with Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processors running at speeds from 2.3GHz to 3.6GHz and with 2GB, 4GB or 8GB of RAM, expandable to 16GB.

Storage options available at launch include SSDs (solid-state disks) up to 512GB in capacity or hard disks up to 500GB, while at a later date Fujitsu plans to offer a hybrid drive combining a 500GB hard disk and an 8GB SSD.

The modular drive bay can hold a number of optional accessories, including a DVD or Blu-ray drive, a second battery, a second hard-disk drive or even a picoprojector for impromptu presentations. Other options include a fingerprint sensor, a smartcard reader and backlighting for the keyboard.

Connectivity options include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and an embedded LTE wireless modem.

The laptops are sold with 64-bit versions of either Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro or Windows 7 Professional, but are also compatible with the 32-bit versions. Fujitsu even offers limited support and basic drivers for Windows XP.

Pricing for the range starts at ¬1299 (US$1,690), Fujitsu said.

The new E Line laptops are a big advance on the similarly named E Series E752, a 15.6-inch laptop that Fujitsu launched in the U.S. last June for around $899, said Fujitsu director of product marketing Barbara D'Introno.

Fujitsu positioned the old E Series laptops as desktop replacements for the enterprise (hence the E). The new E Line models will fulfill the same role, albeit in lighter and thinner cases -- up to 1 centimeter thinner than their predecessors, although not quite thin enough to qualify as Ultrabooks, D'Introno said.

At Cebit this year Fujitsu is also showing a new high-availability server, the Primergy CX420 S1, which it says can help companies keep services online without the IT expertise that usually requires.

The CX420 S1 is a dual-node server cluster containing two of its CX272 S1 servers side by side. Should one fail, then the system can use Microsoft Windows Server 2012's failover feature to start the other one, minimizing downtime -- although not eliminating it, as service will be interrupted while the second server starts up.

The new server goes on sale in Central Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India this month, either direct from Fujitsu or through distributors. Pricing depends on configuration, the company said, but it did not provide an example.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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