Product review: Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook P7230

29 May 2007

The computer industry is responsible for destroying countless suits of mine and leaving a strange indentation on my left shoulder. What am I talking about? Laptops. For all their alleged mobility they can be a health hazard.

Firstly, consider the stress endured by business travellers who fall for the promise of mobile working. You’re overseas and suddenly it dawns on you that your plug doesn’t fit!

Or you’re trying to shoot off an email or a report and that hotel, conference or airport you’re assured has Wi-Fi in fact doesn’t.

Or the stress of getting keys, belts, coins and other metal objects into a tray and then to be told to remove your laptop from its bag by some beady-eyed airport worker. It could be worse, they used to ask you to switch it on!

But it’s mostly the weight of the things that annoy me. That seemingly slinky machine that started off light progressively grows heavier in your bag as you add on various connections.

I first spied the Fujitsu Siemens P7230 at a meeting last year and thought instantly that it might eradicate my frustrations. It is probably the smallest laptop I’ve ever used, with a 10.6-inch screen and weighing just 1.25kg.

What also impressed me about the Vista Business laptop is that it came with a built-in DVD/CD disk drive. What’s surprising about that, you may ask. Well, in most cases in order to keep laptops small this drive usually comes as a separate device you have to hook on.

An important aspect of the P7230 is its connectivity. As well as the usual network cable ports it also comes with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and you can also get internet access via HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) over mobile networks.

When I turned on the laptop it did what all such devices should do but don’t always, and that is it sought and found a wireless internet connection.

I found the keyboard a little cramped for writing at first but got used to it and had filed my first story within 10 minutes of switching it on.

The device comes with a neat suede case for carrying under your arm (but it looked too much like a handbag for my liking) and also you get a spare battery you can just pop on when you need to.

The device also comes with an Intel Core Solo processor and 1,014MB of RAM, which is perfect for getting the full benefit of Windows Vista.

Another plus is the presence of motion sensors within the device which retract the hard disk drive on impact, a bonus for any mobile worker intent on safeguarding information.

However, the screen remains slightly dark unless you’re plugged into a power source, which is defeating the purpose if such a mobile device is going to be used on the hoof. As well as this, the cursor had a habit of disappearing if you moved your finger across the mouse pad too fast, which irked me somewhat.

Another point is the device comes with just one USB socket, which means if you want to synch up music or plug in other devices like Skype phones simultaneously, you are limited.

To win me over at least two more USB sockets would be insisted upon. But for the sake of saving suits and not having to walk lopsided the P7230 gets my vote.

Price: €2,419

Pros: Very light, very fast, very connectable
Cons: Dim screen and only one USB slot

By John Kennedy