by Kevin O'Brien
Fujitsu has been at the top of the business notebook segment, offering very well-built notebooks with a pinch of style and some of the best displays. The 12.1" ultraportable LifeBook P8020 follows in these footsteps, a mild platform refresh of the P8010 with the same body and design. This notebook is not without fierce competition, however, with strong competitors from both HP and Lenovo. In this review we see how well the Fujitsu P8020 stacks up against other business notebooks and if it really deserves a spot on your airline tray table.
Our Fujitsu Lifebook P8020 Specifications:
Build and Design
The Fujitsu business notebooks have always had a special place in my heart with their basic matte black body and glossy black metallic display cover. The plastic finish is textured just enough to make gripping it easy and holds up very well against abrasion. The bottom of the notebook has the same finish with the addition of a felt pad beneath the processor. This feature has been on Fujitsu notebooks for as long as I can remember and essentially keeps your bare legs comfortable if the notebook is on your lap.
Build quality is very good, although a step under the HP EliteBook or Lenovo Thinkpad lineup. The chassis has some mild flex under pressure, noticed primarily around the palmrest. The display cover flexes inward with mild pressure, as it is very thin with minimal bracing. Under strong pressure you can see some discoloring on the screen, but unless you plan on walking on top of the notebook it shouldn’t be a problem. Most of the weaker construction comes as a compromise with the extreme low weight. The HP EliteBook 2530p weighs almost a 1lb more and the Lenovo Thinkpad X200 is about .30lbs more with the same size battery but still doesn’t have an internal optical drive. The overall feel is above standard consumer notebooks, but not into the semi-rugged business notebook area.
The 12-inch display on the Fujitsu P8020 is above average in terms of color and black levels, but weak in terms of viewing angles and mild backlight bleed. Inside the relatively narrow viewing angle sweet spot the screen looks beautiful, with bright and vibrant colors that really belong on a multimedia-oriented notebook. Pictures look stunning and lifelike, and movies are great. Outside of the vertical zone the colors quickly invert or wash out, but at the correct angle it looks fantastic. Horizontal viewing angles are slightly better, keeping colors true but becoming slightly dimmer. I normally don’t enjoy glossy panels on business notebooks, but for this I can easily make an exception.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is slightly smaller than a standard notebook keyboard and uses condensed keys. Some manufacturers like Lenovo use thin keys surrounding the letter portion of the keyboard to increase available space, and then use full-size letters for standard typing surface. The Fujitsu P8020 keyboard was comfortable to type on during use, but it took a bit to get used to the layout coming from a full-size keyboard. Individual key presses were soft with a mild audible click, and the typing surface was supported very well to minimize flex.
The touchpad surface was very large for an ultraportable notebook. The P8020 included a Synaptics touchpad that had some multi-touch capabilities, including pinch zooming. I have to say that for the review I disabled the additional features since they quickly get annoying if you are not used to it, but experiences may vary. Another odd feature was a coasting option, which let you fling the mouse around the screen. The sensitivity could be improved just a notch, but besides that it was great. The surface has a matte finish which is easy to glide your fingers across, even if they are sweaty. The touchpad buttons are on the small side but still easy to trigger. They give a short throw and have a small audible click when pressed.
Performance and Benchmarks
The Fujitsu P8020 wasn’t exactly breaking any speed records with the Core 2 Duo U9400 low voltage processor and Intel X4500 integrated graphics. Performance was under other business notebooks which used better performing processors, such as the HP 2530p with the Intel SL9400 (1.86GHz) or the Lenovo X200 with the Intel P8600 (2.40GHz). While these processors might draw slightly more power, those notebooks got the same or better battery life as they were equipped with larger batteries. System performance under normal activity was great to handle tasks ranging from typing in Word to watching the latest movies in iTunes.
wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi.
|Notebook / CPU||wPrime 32M time|
|Fujitsu LifeBook P8020 (Intel Core 2 Duo U9400 @ 1.4GHz)||56.334s|
|HP EliteBook 2530p (Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400 @ 1.86GHz)||41.263s|
|HP Compaq 2230s (Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 @ 2.26GHz)||35.484s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X200 (Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 @ 2.40GHz)||32.119s|
|HP EliteBook 8530w (Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 @ 2.53GHz)||30.919s|
|Lenovo T400 (Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz)
|Lenovo T61 (Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz)||42.025s|
|Dell Vostro 1500 (Intel Core 2 Duo T5470 @ 1.6GHz)||53.827s|
|HP Pavilion dv6500z (AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz)||40.759s|
|Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz)||76.240s|
|Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz)||42.385s|
|Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)||37.705s|
|Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz)||38.327s|
|Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz)||38.720s|
PCMark05 comparison results:
|Fujitsu LifeBook P8020 (1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U9400, Intel X4500)||2,400 PCMarks|
|HP EliteBook 2530p (1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400, Intel 4500MHD)||5,787 PCMarks|
|HP Compaq 2230s (2.26GHz Intel P8400, Intel 4500MHD)||3,945 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X200 (2.40GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600, Intel X4500)||4,298 PCMarks|
|HP EliteBook 8530w (2.53GHz Intel T9400, Nvidia Quadro FX 770M 512MB)||6,287 PCMarks|
|Lenovo T400 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, ATI Radeon 3470 256MB GDDR3)||6,589 PCMarks|
|Lenovo T400 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, Intel X4500)||N/A|
|Lenovo T61 Standard Screen (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA NVS 140M 256MB)||4,839 PCMarks|
|Dell Vostro 1500 (1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5470, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)||3,585 PCMarks|
|Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)||4,925 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)||3,377 PCMarks|
|Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)||4,591 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)||4,153 PCMarks|
|Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)||3,987 PCMarks|
|Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB)||4,189 PCMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)||4,234 PCMarks|
|Sony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||3,637 PCMarks|
3DMark06 comparison results:
|Fujitsu LifeBook P8020 (1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo U9400, Intel X4500)||664 3DMarks|
|HP EliteBook 2530p (1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SL9400, Intel 4500MHD)||898 3DMarks|
|HP Compaq 2230s (2.26GHz Intel P8400, Intel 4500MHD)||712 3DMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X200 (2.40GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600, Intel X4500)||927 3DMarks|
|HP EliteBook 8530w (2.53GHz Intel T9400, Nvidia Quadro FX 770M 512MB)||5,230 3DMarks|
|Lenovo T400 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, ATI Radeon 3470 256MB GDDR3)||2,575 3DMarks|
|Lenovo T400 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, Intel X4500)||809 3DMarks
|Lenovo T61 Standard Screen (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA NVS 140M 256MB)||1,441 3DMarks|
|Dell Vostro 1500 (1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5470, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS)||1,269 3DMarks|
|Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)||1,329 3DMarks|
|Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)||532 3DMarks|
|Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)||1,408 3DMarks|
|Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU)||1,069 3DMarks|
|Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB)||2,344 3DMarks|
|Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB||2,183 3DMarks|
|Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB)||2,144 3DMarks|
|Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB)||1,831 3DMarks|
|Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)||1,819 3DMarks|
|HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)||827 3DMarks|
|Sony VAIO SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)||794 3DMarks|
Speakers and Audio
The speakers are located at the top of the keyboard under grills that are roughly the size of a postage stamp. Their small size limits the bass and midrange output, and they are also quiet even when at max volume levels. For streaming radio or listening to background music they would work fine, for anything else the best choice is a good pair of headphones. Smaller business notebooks have always been lacking in the speaker category and some notebooks like the Lenovo X200 only have a mono speaker! For an ultraportable notebook the best accessory is almost always a nice pair of earbuds or headphones. Volume levels are never a problem and you are not limited by the poor audio performance of the onboard speakers for enjoying a movie.
Ports and Features
The Fujitsu P8020 was well equipped for a 12" business notebook, including an onboard optical drive, SD card reader, LAN, Firewire, VGA, and three USB connectors. While an HDMI or DisplayPort connection would have been appreciated, it is rare to see it offered in this market segment. The one complaint I have is the inclusion of a legacy PCMCIA over the newer ExpressCard/54 slot.
Heat and Noise
Fujitsu notebooks have always been some of the best notebooks on the market for keeping their cool. With the ultralow voltage Intel Core 2 Duo U9400 processor the P8020 barely draws any power under load or idle, reducing the amount of effort needed to cool the notebook. No matter if it has been running benchmarks or been idling for hours, the palmrest and keyboard are cool to the touch. The cooling fan noise was minimal, and throughout most of our reviewing process the fan wasn’t even spinning.
With the screen brightness set to 60%, wireless active, and Vista set to the “Balanced” power profile the Fujitsu P8020 stayed active for 5 hours and 7 minutes. This was slightly below average compared to other business notebooks, and the design of the battery prevents you from using a larger extended life batteries.
The Fujistu LifeBook P8020 is a good business ultraportable but could be considered limited when compared against rivals from HP and Lenovo. The build quality, while well above a standard consumer notebook, is slightly under the Thinkpad X200 or EliteBook 2530p, yet the P8020 is priced above both. The semi-rugged feel isn’t there, but Fujitsu does manage to offer a very lightweight construction and even an optical drive. The one aspect where I feel the P8020 really shines is the screen, which is a step above other 12" business notebooks. As it stands, the price could be less given the configuration and it would probably attract more buyers who are considering a small business notebook— especially now that the netbook format is stealing some of those roles.
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