Cheap and cheerful netbooks have encroached significantly on the ultra-portable market, but, as anyone who's used a netbook can testify, their performance often leaves a lot to be desired. If you use your computer for work, you're likely to be far better off with a proper ultra-portable such as the Fujitsu LifeBook P770. It's similar in size to a netbook but has a faster low-voltage Core i7 processor and built-in support for mobile broadband. It's available for around £1,400 online.
Corporate little computer
Measuring 282 by 215mm, the P770 is not much larger than most of the netbooks around at the moment, although its 30mm thickness does indicate there's a bit more technology packed in here than the average netbook. Its design won't win any awards for originality, but the combination of glossy black finish with chrome highlights looks pleasing enough. The chassis does creak a little when you apply some amount of force to it, so perhaps build quality isn't as good as you'd expect from a machine that costs nearly a grand and a half.
The P770's 12.1-inch screen is fairly small, but its resolution is reasonably high at 1280x800 pixels, so you can, at a stretch, work on two documents side by side. As this model is aimed at business users, Fujitsu has sensibly steered clear of using a glossy display and instead gone for one with an anti-glare matte finish. This helps massively to reduce reflection when you're using it under bright lights or outdoors and, despite the matte finish, the screen still manages to deliver punchy colours.
Given the laptop's smaller frame, the keyboard is something of a compromise in terms of size. Fujitsu has done a good job when it comes to the layout, however. Despite the slightly smaller size of the keys, it's still comfortable to type on. We like the textured finish of the trackpad and the natural responsiveness of the two trackpad buttons. Nestled between these two buttons, you'll find a fingerprint reader. You can set this up to limit access to the computer with the supplied software. The fingerprint reader also doubles as a virtual scroll wheel when it's not being used for security purposes.
Small and speedy
The laptop may be small, but Fujitsu has still managed to cram in a DVD writer -- something that's often missing from ultra-portables. On top of this, the company has added an Express Card slot (handy for connecting peripherals), three USB ports and both VGA and HDMI sockets for hooking the laptop up to an external display. There's an SD card slot, too, nestled just below the DVD writer. In fact, the bottom of the DVD writer's tray is slightly cut away to give you access to this slot. The hard drive offers 320GB of storage space and is shock-proofed. If the drive detects the laptop is going into freefall (if it's knocked off the edge of a table, for example), it'll park the heads to protect your data from damage.
On the connectivity front, there's a Gigabit Ethernet port as well as 802.11n wireless. Fujitsu has also managed to include Bluetooth 2.1 support as well as a broadband modem. To use the latter, you need to place a SIM card in a slot under the battery cover. Once it's in place, you can use the laptop to browse the Web via the mobile network when you're out of range of a Wi-Fi signal.
The P770 is built around one of Intel's newer Core i7 low-voltage processors. The one used here is a dual-core i7-620UM processor running at 1.07GHz and twinned with 4GB of RAM. This processor claims to offer fast performance while also managing to be kind on the laptop's battery. That certainly played out in our trial -- the P770 managed to keep running for an hour and 49 minutes in our intensive Battery Eater test. Furthermore, it turned in a very speedy score of 4,270 in our PCMark05 benchmark, so it'll easily chomp through heavy tasks like high-definition video-editing without breaking too much of a sweat. As this laptop is largely aimed at business users, we weren't expecting its 3D performance to be up to much cop, and it isn't. The on-board Intel GMA HD graphics chip was only able to push it to a lowly score of 1,294 in 3DMark06, so you're not going to be playing the latest first-person shooters on this machine.
Nevertheless, the Fujitsu LifeBook P770 remains an impressive machine for business users. It's small and light, has a very fast, yet power-efficient, processor and comes with integrated mobile broadband. The build quality could be better, but in most regards, this is a very sound business laptop.
Edited by Emma Bayly