The Fujitsu LifeBook E780 is designed for professionals who need a sturdy laptop with fast performance and good security features. It doesn't come cheap, however. The model we had in for review will set you back around £1200.
Here on business
Like most business-focused laptops, the E780 isn't the prettiest machine to look at. Big and boxy, it's finished in a combination of silver and matte black. It's pretty heavy, at 2.75kg, and quite thick, too, measuring 36mm deep, so it's more likely to appeal to desk-bound workers rather than road warriors. Its chunky dimensions mean it feels remarkably well built -- even when you apply pressure to the chassis and lid, there's very little give.
Nevertheless, the E780's 15.6-inch screen is a little disappointing. It has a fairly pedestrian resolution of just 1366x768 pixels and both the vertical and horizontal viewing angles are quite tight. As a result, you often find yourself moving it forward and backward on the hinge to find an angle where the colours look consistent cross the top and bottom of the display. It is bright, however, thanks in large part to its LED backlighting. The matte finish does a good job of reducing reflections, but it also means colours don't jump out at you in the same way they do with glossy screens on consumer laptops.
Although the chassis is wide enough to accommodate a keyboard with an integrated keypad, Fujitsu has decided to forgo the keypad and, instead, use the 2.5 inches either side to house the laptop's speakers. Although these are reasonably loud, they are also seriously lacking in bass thump. The traditional Qwerty keyboard sits centrally between the two speakers and uses standard tapered keys. It feels very solid and there's almost zero flex, but the keys on our model felt a little sticky and had a slower action than what we're used to. It's possible the keys may free up over time with prolonged usage.
The trackpad is relatively small by 15-inch laptop standards and has two sets of buttons at the top and bottom. The top set is designed to be used with the point stick that comes with another variation of this laptop. Although a point stick wasn't included with our model, the buttons were still present and a tad annoying, as they were easily tapped accidentally when typing.
All the right connections
One of the benefits of the E780's chunkier dimensions is that there's plenty of space for sockets and ports, something Fujitsu has taken full advantage of. The laptop packs in four USB ports as well as an eSata port and a FireWire connector. There's both a VGA output and a DisplayPort socket, although the latter is not all that common on monitors yet. There's plenty of room for expansion, too, thanks to the presence of both an ExpressCard and older-style PC Card slot.
What's more, the laptop has an abundance of security features, including a smart card reader, TPM chip and fingerprint reader, which is nestled between the bottom two trackpad buttons. The main connectivity bases are covered with Gigabit Ethernet, 801.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. A 500GB shock-protected hard drive offers plenty of space for storing work documents, and there's also a DVD writer and SD card reader.
As you would expect from a business machine, Fujitsu has loaded the E780 with the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional, rather than the Home Premium edition you'll find on consumer laptops. There's a healthy 4GB of RAM, and the brains of the machine come courtesy of a powerful quad-core Intel i5-520M processor that ticks over at 2.4GHz. Unsurprisingly, this meaty specification means the laptop is an impressive performer. It racked up a blisteringly fast score of 7,533 in the PCMark05 benchmark, so it'll crunch its way through heavy multitasking without breaking a sweat.
It also impresses when it comes to 3D graphics, which is surprising for a business laptop. The Nvidia GeForce GT330M dedicated graphics chip helped it rack up 7,819 points in 3DMark06. This score means it'll have no trouble with business-focused 3D rendering or even a spot of after-hour gaming.
Battery performance wasn't bad, especially considering the power-hungry processor and graphics chip. In our Battery Eater test, it managed to keep running for an hour and 36 minutes, which is pretty decent by 15-inch laptop standards.
The Fujitsu LifeBook E780 feels very sturdy, demonstrates blisteringly fast performance and has good battery life. It also offers an impressive array of security features including a smart card and fingerprint reader. Given its high price, however, we would have expected it to have a better screen and keyboard.
Edited by Emma Bayly