The Fujitsu LifeBook S710 is aimed at business users who need a powerful laptop to use on the move. It packs a muscular i5 processor into its small 14-inch chassis, but it's relatively pricey at £940.
Functional rather than flash
Like many business-focused machines, the S710 doesn't really major on style. The matte black lid and slightly cheap-looking silver paint job on the keyboard surround could best be described as functional rather than flash, but at least they're less likely to show up scratches than the glossy finishes you find on consumer machines. If Fujitsu hasn't been overly concerned with the looks, it's taken no chances when it comes to build quality -- this feels like a very sturdy machine. There's very little flex in the chassis and you have to apply a fair amount of pressure to the rear of the screen before you can see ripples on the display.
The screen uses a matte, anti-glare coating rather than the glossy finish that's popular these days. While the anti-glare coating means colours don't leap off the screen, it's much less reflective and easier on the eyes when you're looking at the laptop for long periods. The screen uses LED backlighting, so it still looks very bright. Athough the resolution of 1366x768 pixels is nothing special, the display does look sharp and there's enough space to work on two documents side by side -- so you can have a Word document open while also viewing a Web page, for example.
Unfortunately, the keyboard isn't quite up to the same standard as the display. It flexes in the middle more than we would have liked and, as a result, the action of the keys feels quite spongy. That said, the traditional tapered-style keys are relatively large and there are very few compromises in terms of layout. We're not fans of the trackpad, though. It's really small -- in fact, we've seen netbooks with larger trackpads. The buttons are also tiny, although they do feel very solid and produce a firm click when pressed.
Booked at 2.40Hz
Under the bonnet, our review sample had a dual-core i5-520M processor clocked at 2.40GHz, but the laptop is available in a number of different configurations, including one with a faster i7 processor for speed junkies. To give credit where it's due, the i5 processor in our model was certainly no slouch. Twinned with 4GB of RAM, it pushed the laptop to a score of 6,072 in PCMark05, which is pretty speedy by ultra-portable standards. On the graphics front, Fujitsu has stuck with Intel GMA HD integrated graphics, which clocked up a paltry 2,101 in 3DMark06. It'll be fine for business 3D animation applications, but you're not going to be doing any after-hour fragging in the latest first-person shooters.
The laptop wasn't great when it came to battery life, either. In our Battery Eater test, it kept running for an hour and 24 minutes before it ran out of puff. That's not great for a business ultra-portable, although our battery test is very intensive. You are likely to get much longer from the battery in real-world conditions.
The limited amount of space available on ultra-portables means they never boast an extensive array of ports, but the S710 doesn't fair too badly in this department. It has three USB ports as well as an eSata port for connecting external high-speed storage devices. There's also a mini FireWire socket on the front next to the memory card reader. Fujitsu has even kitted it out with both a VGA socket and a DisplayPort socket. The latter still hasn't gained much traction in the market, however, so there aren't that many monitors around that support it.
Naturally, there's Ethernet and Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth support. There's the option to have a 3G modem integrated, but this wasn't included with our sample. Our model did have several security features, though, including a fingerprint reader nestled between the two trackpad buttons, a mini SmartCard reader on the right-hand side and an integrated Trusted Platform Module on the motherboard.
The Fujitsu LifeBook S710 has an impressive line up of ports and is a reasonably speedy performer, but its boring design, below-par battery life and spongy keyboard let it down somewhat, especially given the relatively high asking price.
Edited by Emma Bayly