Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/05/26/review_fs_e8010/

Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook E8010

Intel's 'Dothan' hits the UK

By Trusted Reviews

Posted in Channel, 26th May 2004 13:47 GMT

Review With the recent launch of Intel's new 'Dothan' Pentium M processor, every laptop manufacturer is rushing out new models and the Lifebook E8010 is Fujitsu-Siemens' attempt to show off the new CPU. We managed to secure the first pre-production sample in the UK, writes Lars-Gîran Nilsson.

Apart from the 1.8GHz Pentium M 745 processor and the Intel 855GME chipset, Fujitsu-Siemens has equipped the Lifebook E8010 with an Intel wireless network card to make it a full Centrino-branded machine. The wireless network card can access both 802.11b and 802.11g networks, making it a flexible feature that can be used pretty much anywhere in the world. As more wireless networks switch to the higher bandwidth 802.11g standard, it's important for any new notebook to support it.

There's also Bluetooth 1.2 support, the latest revision of the wireless standard. In order to configure Bluetooth you get a handy, easy-to-use application for connecting various devices. The only company I've come across that offers something similar is Sony. In general, most other Bluetooth utilities are very basic, so it can be awkward to get them work as they should. However, I had no problem connecting up to two different mobile phones as well as a Bluetooth-enabled printer to the Lifebook.

Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook E8010

The Lifebook comes with a DVD writer that can burn at 4x speed to both +/-R media. It can also write at 2.4x speed and 2x speed to DVD+RW and DVD-RW media respectively, making this one of the faster laptop DVD writers. The drive will also write CD-R discs at 16x speed and CD-RW media at 10x speed. Finally, this drive will also read DVD-RAM media, which could come in handy if you use DVD-RAM discs in your desktop system.

The 15in TFT display offers a 1400 x 1050 resolution backed by ATI's Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics chip with 64MB of memory. This gives an overall boost to 3D graphics performance which is very noticeable when playing games and running 3D applications. The MR 9700 is currently the best mobile graphics chipset available, which helps to show that Fujitsu-Siemens has pulled out all the stops to create a top of the range laptop.

To add to the mobile power-station feel, a whopping 1GB of PC2700 DDR memory has been fitted. But what makes the memory configuration really special is that it comes in a single 1GB module, leaving a free memory slot for future upgrades. This does, however, add to the price of the Lifebook E8010 as a single 1GB SODIMM is far more expensive than two 512MB modules.

There are plenty of connection options available. The Lifebook E8010 comes with four USB 2.0 ports, one handily placed on the left hand side and three around the back. Furthermore, there's a single four-pin FireWire connector on the left hand side as well as a card reader for MMC and SD memory cards. This is also where the S-Video out connector can be found as well as the power socket and the optical drive.

Apart from the three USB 2.0 ports around the back you will find an RJ45 socket for the onboard Gigabit Ethernet, a serial port, a parallel port, a D-SUB connector, a PS/2 port and finally, a modem socket. On the right hand side are two Type II PC Card slots, which will also accept a single Type III device.

Finally, at the front of the laptop you'll find a headphone socket and a mic socket, where the headphone socket also doubles as an optical S/PDIF output. Next to these is the switch for enabling and disabling the wireless antennas as well as the IrDA port. The latter is an unusual addition these days, as many notebook manufacturers have done away with IrDA support.

The Lifebook E8010 is a fairly large machine, but this is not necessarily a negative point. Fujitsu-Siemens has used the greater dimensions to ensure that the keyboard is well laid out and comfortable to type on - although it was somewhat bouncy on our review model. That said, Fujitsu-Siemens has assured us that this will be fixed on final production models. The touchpad is accompanied by a trackpoint, but strangely the trackpoint doesn't have its own set of buttons, so you have to use both hands when using it. This pretty much negates the main advantage of a trackpoint: that you don't have to move your hands away from the keyboard. The trackpoint was also set quite low down between the keys, and could have done with being a few millimetres higher like those seen on IBM ThinkPads.

Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook E8010

Above the keyboard is a small LCD display that shows the battery charge status and other useful information. There is a set of five programmable quick launch buttons - an easy to use application that lets you change the functionality of each button to your own needs comes as standard. The speakers can be found on each side of the display, but the sound is fairly tinny and lacks bass. Though, to be fair, this is a criticism aimed at most notebook speakers.

A copy of Norton Ghost is supplied so you can create image backups of your valuable data. You also get a security application that enables you to password protect the Lifebook E8010 and prevent access to it at pre-BIOS level. You enter the code through the quick launch buttons after powering the laptop on, after which the boot sequence will continue as normal. Copies of WinDVD 5 and Nero 6 are also bundled in the box.

Fujitsu-Siemens has also bundled a set of modem plugs for some of the larger European countries such as the UK, Germany and France to name a few, this will be particularly useful for anyone who travels a lot on business. There is also a European power cable supplied in the box, which means that you won't have to carry a plug adapter with you when you travel.

The Lifebook E8010's battery life is very good - with an impressive four hours and 15 minutes in MobileMark 2002, you should be able to use it away from a power socket for at least half a day. Even more impressive is the performance, with a score of 229 in SYSmark 2002 and a MobileMark 2002 score of 199. This means that you can use the Lifebook E8010 for much more than just office work. It should also be able to cope with a fair few games, although some of the latest titles might struggle a little at higher resolutions.

Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook E8010 MobileMark 02

Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook E8010 SysMark

As I mentioned earlier, the review unit is an early pre-production model, but all of the features will remain the same on production units. However, the build quality should be improved upon by the time the E8010 hits the shelves. Overall the Lifebook E8010 is a very impressive machine, but it does have one drawback, a fairly high estimated price of £2000 inc VAT, placing it firmly in the corporate laptop category. The price does however include a three-year international collect and return warranty, which will be important to a frequent business traveller.

The Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook E8010 isn't available to buy just yet, but stock should start to ship around the middle of June the UK.

Verdict

If you want a great value Dothan-based Centrino notebook, the Systemax TourBook 5127 is still hard to beat. However, if you need a powerful business laptop with a wide range of connectivity options, great features, good battery life and solid warranty; the Lifebook E8010 should definitely be on your shortlist.

Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook E8010
 
Rating 90%
 
Price £2000
 
More info The Fujitsu-Siemens website

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