If you need a sturdy laptop for work and play on the move, then Fujitsu would love to sell you the LifeBook P701 -- a 12.1-inch laptop with an Intel Core i3 processor that measures just 283mm wide and weighs in at a smidgeon over 1.5kg. This portability doesn't come cheap, however, as the P701 will set you back around £770. Let's find out if it's worth it.
Matte Le Blank
This laptop is designed primarily for life on the go, so Fujitsu has decided not to include a DVD drive. Despite this, the P701 isn't the thinnest ultraportable we've come across, as it still measures 33mm thick. The design won't win any awards either, with the matte silver and black paint job looking a tad dull.
That said, the matte finish is less likely to show up scratches than the glossy paint jobs on many of its rivals, and the P701's build quality can't be faulted, which is important for a laptop that's likely to spend a lot of time on the road.
Keyboards on ultraportables are always compromised due to the limited amount of space available. Fujitsu has done a pretty good job in terms of the layout, however, as only the tab and backslash keys are smaller than usual. The traditional tapered keys don't have a great deal of travel though, so the keyboard feels a little soft and mushy to type on. It is spill resistant, which could be a lifesaver if you knock a cup of coffee over it while working on a plane or train.
The touchpad is much better. It may be small, but the dimpled surface feels surprisingly pleasant under your finger tip. We certainly found it more satisfying to use than the sticky, glossy surface of some other trackpads we've come across recently. Between the two traditional buttons beneath the pad there's a fingerprint reader that also doubles up as a scroll wheel. To the immediate right of the pad, Fujitsu has also added a circular touch surface that can be used either as a scroll wheel or to zoom in and out of pictures. It works brilliantly and feels very intuitive to use.
Like most laptops aimed more at work than play, this one has a matte screen that cuts down massively on screen reflections. The display has an odd resolution of 1,280x800 pixels, which is slightly narrower than the usual 1,366x768, but in practice we didn't find it made much difference. The screen is impressively bright and the viewing angles on the horizontal axis are top notch.
The line up of ports isn't bad by ultraportable standards, either. There are three USB ports for connecting up peripherals such external hard drives, and although there's sadly no HDMI connector, you do get a standard VGA output and a DisplayPort socket. The 34mm Express Card slot offers some room for expansion, and there's also both a smart card reader and SD memory card reader. Along with the usual Ethernet port and Wi-Fi module, Fujitsu has also added in support for Bluetooth 3.0.
It is a shame, though, that the laptop lacks a DVD writer, especially as the chassis isn't all that thin by modern standards. We do feel Fujitsu could have kitted it out with a larger hard drive too, as the 320GB one is a bit on the small side.
Processed food for thought
Our version of the P907 came with a 2.1GHz Core i3 2310M processor and 2GB of RAM, although there are models available with faster processors and more RAM. In PCMark 05 it scored a respectable 5,956, so it'll have no problems coping with a bunch of programs open at once, such as emailing, word processing and working on spreadsheets.
Its 3D performance isn't too bad either, as clocking up a score of 3,550 in 3D Mark 06. That's not fast enough to play the latest games, but you will get decent frame rates out of older stuff.
Unfortunately for an ultraportable, the P701's battery life isn't as impressive as we would have liked. It managed to keep running for 1 hour 33 minutes in the intensive Battery Eater test -- in comparison Acer's 14-inch 4820T held on for a full 2 hours.
On the whole, this laptop is a solid machine that goes about its business with the minimum of fuss. It doesn't really excel in any one area and the spongy keyboard, shortish battery life and lack of a DVD drive are disappointing. The aforementioned Acer performs just as well (apart from in 3D graphics) for only £450 -- over £200 less.
Edited by Nick Hide