Fujitsu laptop offers premium portability

Clearly, this notebook is aimed at people who put a premium on portability

Pick up the svelte Fujitsu LifeBook P1610, and you'll barely feel as if you're carrying a notebook PC. And no wonder: At 2.2 pounds, the US$2,419 (AUD$3045, as of 12/18/06) P1610 puts the "ultra" in ultraportable.

The P1610 is similar in weight and size to its predecessor, the LifeBook P1510. (It's slightly slimmer at 1.4 inches deep, and it measures 9.1 by 6.6 inches.) Included, however, are several notable improvements, among them a reasonably roomy 80GB hard drive, and a PC Card slot in lieu of the P1510's integrated CompactFlash slot.

Furthermore, the 8.9-inch, WXGA swiveling touch-screen display now has a higher resolution --1280 by 768 pixels -- and a proprietary coating that helps optimize how the image looks in bright sunlight. On the touch-screen display, you can use either your fingertips or the included (and exceptionally thin) stylus to navigate. In my tests I found this flexibility a real boon, as tablet PCs typically allow you to use only a specially configured stylus to input data via the screen. (I tested a shipping version of the notebook running Windows XP; you can choose to purchase it with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition instead. The P1610 is also billed as Vista Capable.)

In addition to the PC Card slot (useful for such peripherals as an EvDO card or a CardBus CompactFlash card adapter) on the left side of the unit, the P1610 has an SD Card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, the stylus, and headphone and line-in jacks along the right side; at back is a VGA port, plus RJ-11 and ethernet ports. The unit has 802.11 a/b/g and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.

Although my small hands had few issues with the cramped keyboard, touch typists and users with large hands may find it difficult to work with. My two design complaints are minor ones: First, the flat, sliding power switch was awkward to switch on and off. Second, the spacebar depresses beneath the unit's chassis, so I often found myself bumping into the chassis as I typed.

Equipped with a 1.2-GHz Intel Core Solo ULV U1400 CPU, integrated graphics, and 1GB of RAM, the unit mustered only a Fair rating on our WorldBench 5 tests, earning a score of 62. It also did poorly on our gaming graphics tests, producing unplayably low frame rates. The P1610's 3-hour battery life is respectable given the unit's small size, but the result falls nearly an hour and a half short of the current average battery life among ultraportables we've seen.

Clearly, this notebook is aimed at people who put a premium on portability. If you crave both compactness and functionality, the petite LifeBook P1610 will charm you.

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