The Lifebook P7230 is for dirty stop-outs, road warriors and anyone that likes showing off with dinky ultraportables. It weighs next to nothing, fits in a handbag or manbag, and it can go online pretty much anywhere. Sounds like the recipe for the perfect ultraportable.
At first glance, the Lifebook P7230 looks a lot like the Sony Vaio TZ series. The lid is virtually identical, as is the placement of the memory card reader at the front edge. The biggest difference between the two is their size -- the P7230 is slightly fatter than the Sony machine.
The P7230's 10.6-inch display is a tad too small for our liking and we reckon Fujitsu Siemens could have fitted a slightly larger panel. There's certainly room for one -- the bezel surrounding the screen takes up a fair bit of space.
The keyboard seems to have been jammed in with a crowbar as it only just fits the chassis. The keys themselves are a little on the small size, so if you're fat of finger you'll have to curb your typing speed or you'll end up with countless typos.
The mouse trackpad is also ridiculously tiny. It doesn't much affect the laptop's usability, but we had to crank up the cursor sensitivity to avoid using multiple finger strokes. The mouse buttons are small, too, but they feel good in use and have a biometric fingerprint reader between them -- ideal for secure logins.
Other interesting features include a 1.3-megapixel camera built into the upper portion of the screen bezel, a couple of shortcut keys next to the power button, and twin (array) microphones, which can improve the accuracy of Vista's integrated speech recognition software.
Fujitsu Siemens has fitted the Lifebook P7230 with an energy-efficient Intel Core Solo CPU. In this case it's the 1.2GHz U1400 model, which we like to think of as the Smart car of CPUs. It's not very fast, even with the accompanying 1GB of RAM, but it's very economical, so expect long battery life.
You won't be playing many games on the P7230 -- the whole thing runs off the Intel 945GM chipset, which comes with an integrated graphics adaptor. It's fast enough for playing YouTube flicks, and maybe even the odd bit of Solitaire, but don't expect much more.
The display, though small, is commendable. It's bright and runs at a native resolution of 1,280x768 pixels, so it'll let you play 720p movies -- but don't blame us if you get a few dropped frames because of the slow CPU. It's worth noting that there's minor light bleeding from the top and bottom of the screen, but this is quite a common feature of LED-backlit displays.
Storage is limited in the P7230 -- it comes with a paltry 60GB of disk space. After all the software's installed, you're left with approximately 37GB of memory to play with. If you're anything like us, you'll run out of room before you can say the words 'Bit' and 'Torrent'. We recommend you grab yourself an external hard drive or sign up to an online backup service.
We're glad Fujitsu Siemens has included an optical drive in the P7230, and even happier that it's modular. This means you can remove and replace it with a second battery, which is probably more useful to the vast majority of us. Unfortunately the second battery doesn't come as standard -- you'll have pay extra for it.
The P7230's most appealing feature is its built-in HSDPA module, which lets you get online over a 3G network. The SIM card slot for this is located underneath the battery, which is a tad inconvenient. If you use the same SIM for your phone as you do for the laptop, you'll be doing an awful lot of fiddling about with the battery. We'd have preferred a solution like on the Samsung Q40, where the SIM card slot is built into the side of the chassis.
The P7230 comes with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as you might expect, but there's no support for 802.11n -- only the standard 802.11b/g are supported. You should also note the fact the laptop only has two USB ports -- if you prefer to use an external mouse you only have one port left to play with.
The laptop ships with Windows Vista Business Edition, plus WinDVD 6, and has a one-year warranty.
The P7230 is slow, but that comes as no surprise to us. The 1.2GHz Core Solo CPU notched up 1,338 in PCMark 2005. If ever there was a laptop built primarily for word processing and Web surfing, this is it.
Where the laptop excels is in its battery life. It stayed active for 3 hours 37 minutes in our very strenuous Batteryeater test, which is impressive to say the least. Running less demanding applications the laptop stayed alive for nearly 5 hours.
The Lifebook P7230 is great, provided speed isn't a priority. It's not quite as sexy as the Vaio TZ series, but it goes about its duties commendably and as an ultraportable laptop, it's hard to fault.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield