Fujitsu LifeBook E8020 Review (pics, specs)

by Goren Reads (79,007)

After selling my IBM T42, I was in need of a replacement.  Like many others, I wanted something that was portable, yet having a good graphics card and a reasonable cost.  Ultimately finding such a notebook is very unlikely as performance, weight, or cost will have to be sacrificed in order to acquire such traits.  In my search for a replacement, I considered the Asus W3V and the Fujitsu N3510 as my top candidates.  The former required me to sacrifice my price requirements, while the latter would require a sacrifice in weight and portability.

Fujitsu LifeBook E8020

The situation changed when I browsed through Portable One’s list of notebooks and stumbled upon the new Fujitsu E8020D.  The E8020D, is Fujitsu’s latest Sonoma notebook.  It offered the same graphics card as the W3V, while at the same time, is lighter than the N3510.  Furthermore, the base line E8020D was cheaper than both the W3V and the N3510.  The E8020D was highly configurable (something that can not be said of the W3V unless you void the manufacturer’s warranty) and offered a Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive that neither the W3V or N3510 uses.  As a result, the E8020D was the perfect compromise between the two, although I must note, that it is not a widescreen notebook either.

I bought my E8020D from Portable One, a certified reseller of Fujitsu notebooks.  The staff there were outstandingly helpful and polite, especially Mr. Reyes and Mr. Gospich who were patient and kind enough to deal with my numerous inquiries and indecisions.  Furthermore, to date, I have not seen any other site that offers the ability to configure Fujitsu notebooks other than Fujitsu themselves.  As an added bonus, Portable One also gives free 2-day shipping to any Fujitsu order and have better return policies than Fujitsu themselves.  And finally, Portable one offers a free upgrade to dual pointing devices and internal bluetooth for the E8020 and E8020D.

Fujitsu Lifebook E8020D as Delivered

  • Intel Pentium M 730 (1.60GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 533MHz FSB)
  • 15.1″ XGA (1024 x 768) display with Crystal View (glossy screen)
  • 40GB, 5400RPM Serial ATA (SATA) Hard Drive
  • 512MB DDR2 SODIMM (2GB MAX)
  • Dual Layer Multi-Format DVD Writer
  • Standard 8-cell battery and optional 6-cell modular bay battery
  • Ports: Four USB 2.0, Infrared port (IrDA 1.1-compatible, 4 Mbps), PS/2, serial, parallel, external monitor, modem (RJ-11), SD/MMC card slot, Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45), IEEE 1394 (4-pin), docking port, headphone/SPDIF, and microphone jacks
  • ATI X600 Graphics Card with 64MB RAM
  • Atheros Super AG 802.11 a/b/g internal wireless LAN card
  • Dual pointing device
  • As of May 2005, pricing starts at $1399.  This configuration above is $1589
    E8020D Datasheet (183kb): Fujitsu E8020D Datasheet

E8020D Overview

The Fujitsu E8000 series can be classified as a main-stream notebook.  It is a bit too heavy to be classified as a thin and light (such as the Fujitsu S series), but is thinner and lighter than a desktop replacement (such as the Fujitsu N series).  Like some of Fujitsu’s other line of notebooks, the E8020 comes in two versions, the E8020 and E8020D in which the latter offers an Atheros card.  Since most resellers price the E8020 and E8020D the same, one would might as well pick up the latter model.

E8020D Design

The Fujitsu E8020D has a sturdy silver lid with a black Fujitsu logo placed on the center.  The lid is very tough and will not bend nor leave finger imprints when pressed from behind, unlike certain other notebooks.  There is a single latch that holds the lid to the body of the notebook.
Beyond the lid, the E8020D is black with silver lininings, silver mouse buttons and silver configure buttons.  The keyboard itself is not white as in pictures, but is a soft light grey like that on a Super Nintendo.

There is some flex on the palm rest and keyboard, but it is not too distracting.

Input and Output Ports

Below are pictures of input and output ports of the E8020D, which should be the same as the E8020.

On the right side of the E8020D, we find a large heat vent, a PCMCIA and express card slot.

Lifebook E8020D right side

On the left side, starting from left to right, is the power connector, a USB 2.0 port, video out port, fire wire port, SD card reader, another heat vent, and a modular bay which can house an optical drive, another battery, another hard drive, or a weight saver.  Objects in the modular bay can be easily removed by the switch on the far right.

Lifebook E8020D left side (view larger image)

On the back, we find even more ports, starting from the left to right:  a modem port, a heat vent, parallel, serial, VGA ports, 3x USB 2.0, ethernet/LAN port, another heat vent, and a lock.  There is some space that seperates the 3 USB ports.

Lifebook E8020D rear

On the front side we have the WiFi on/off switch, audio in and out ports (for mics and headphones/speakers), and an infrared port.  Note the vents in the front, which is where the hard drive is located

Lifebook E8020D front

On the bottom right corner is where the battery (removed from the bay) is located, next to it is a panel that could be unscrewed to reveal the location of the two RAM and wireless card.  Right below this panel is where the hard drive is located.  They are all easily removable and definitely very easy to upgrade.

Lifebook E8020D bottom

Screen

Like the other Fujitsus, the E8020D is offered with a 15.1″ XGA display with Crystal View (1024 x 768) or a 15.1″ SXGA+ display with out Crystal View (1400 x 1050).  Fujitsu’s Crystal View simply means that the screen is a glossy, and is the same as Sony’s X-Brite, Toshiba’s Tru-Brite, and Asus’ Color Shine screen.  To reccomend the Crystal View or the Non Crystal View would be impossible as such screens are a matter of personal preference.  Crystal View gives sharper colors and better contrast, however its shiny screen often reflects sources of light, such as a light bulb and the sun.  Ultimately it would depend on where you intend to use your notebook, and whether you are able to adjust to these reflections.  There are many who still prefer the traditional matte finish as it is not as highly reflective and is much easier on the eyes.  For me, I chose the Crystal View screen simply because it was cheaper.

The E8020D lives up to Fujitus’ reputation of building high quality screens.  Colors are very accurate and do not look washed out as compared to my IBM T42.  Blacks are very deep and actually black while whites are very bright and do not appear as greyish or yellowish.  There are 8 levels of brightness one can adjust on the E8020 to, with the highest level being considerably bright.

Horizontal viewing angels is pretty good as a group of 2 or 3 people can sit around the E8020D and enjoy a DVD with out much strain.  Verticle viewing angles are good, but not as good as the horizontal viewing angle, as with most laptops.  Overall, the screen is of very high quality and came with no dead pixels.  The crystal view is very nice and easy to adjust to, however I will admit that I can live with either a crystal view or matte finish as it makes no big difference to me.

Lifebook E8020D picture of a black screen.  Notice the absence of light leakage and my reflection, due to Crystal View.  The light on the bottom is standard in any notebook screen that is displaying pure black colors.

Keyboard / TouchPad / TrackPoint / Configure Keys

Lifebook E8020D keyboard / TouchPad / TrackPoint

The keyboard is light grey and contains 84 keys.  Fortunately the E8020D has a windows key (not found on my Thinkpad) and places the CTRL key to the left of the FN key.  Brightness and volume control can be changed using one of the FN keys.  There is some flex in the keyboard, however it is very slight and not too distracting.  While the inclusion of a windows key is nice, it is still inferior to the Thinkpad’s keyboard, although you will be hard pressed to find one that is superior.

The trackpoint is located between the G,H and B keys and is of light grey color.  The type of trackpoint used is an eraser head, which does not rub off on your finger unlike eraser heads used by other brands.  The top of the eraser head is still located beneath the top of the keys, which prevens the eraser from rubbing off onto the screen when closed (like on the thumbtack heads used by Thinkpads).  However it would be nice if Fujitsu gave consumers a choice of different heads for the trackpoint like IBM does, however this is a very minor issue and is certainly something I can live with.  The trackpoint is quite easy to use and can be adjusted.

The touch pad is located below the space bar and measures about 2.5 in x 1.5 in, which is rather small for a notebook this size, but still easy to use.  Below the touch pad are your left and right mouse buttons and a page up/down bar rather than a scroller.  The mouse buttons are a bit large and clunky.  I personally prefer using a real mouse.

Above the keyboard is a small LCD that displays battery life and drive activity and 4 configurable buttons.  These buttons can be configured to quickly launch any application you choose.  For example, the default Button 1 opens up notepad, Button 2 opens up the calculator, Button 3 opens Internet Explorer and Button 4 opens up my internet connection.  This is a very useful feature, especially when certain applications are constantly used.

Processor and Performance

My E8020D comes with a Pentium M 730 1.6GHz, however processor speed can be configured to 2.0GHz via Portable One.  Personally I find 1.6GHz to be good enough for almost every application I use and handles well for the games I play which includes Battlefield 1942.
Below are several benchmark tests that calculate my E8020′s processing capabilities and graphics capabilities.  The first benchmark, Super Pi, uses the notebook’s processor to calculate Pi to a selected number of digits which the user can choose.  For this example, I have selected 2 million digits and have posted the time it took to calculate these digits in comparisons done with other notebooks reviewed by Abaxter.

Comparison of notebooks using Super Pi to calculate Pi to 2 million digits (plugged in):

 


 Notebook

Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits

Fujitsu LifeBook E8020D (1.6 GHz Sonoma Pentium M)

2m 00s

IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M)

1m 45s

Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Alviso Pentium M)

1m 48s

IBM ThinkPad T41 (1.6GHz Banias Pentium M)

2m 23s

Compaq R3000T (Celeron 2.8GHz)

3m 3s

Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M)

2m 10s

Dell Inspiron 8600 (1.7GHz Banias Pentium M)

2m 28s

The next benchmarks calculate the 3D capabilities of the E8020. While my selected processor is slightly slower than that of the T43 or the N3510, it still manages to hold it’s own. The E8020D’s ATI Radeon x600 clearly shines as it’s 3D benchmarks are superior to the other two.

 


 Futuremark PCMark04 Scores

 

Fujitsu E8020D (1.6GHz)

IBM T43 (1.86GHz)

Fujitsu N3510 (1.73 GHz)

 Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression

3.08 MB/s

3.33 MB/s

3.24 MB/s

 Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption

23.34 MB/s

27.19 MB/s

25.58 MB/s

 Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression

20.644 MB/s

23.4 MB/s

22.72 MB/s

 Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing

9.28 Mpixels/s

10.88 MPixels/s

10.03 MPixels/s

 Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning

1630.00 MB/s

1914.17 MB/s

1752.97 MB/s

 Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check

2.32 KB/s

2.82 KB/s

2.8 KB/s

 File Decryption

46.7 MB/s

54.11 MB/s

51.45 MB/s

 Audio Conversion

2151.48 KB/s

2496.87 KB/s

2346.96 KB/s

 Web Page Rendering

4.55 Pages

5.27 Pages

5.25 Pages

 DivX Video Compression

46.16 FPS

51.71 FPS

46.08 FPS

 Physics Calculation and 3D

158.76 FPS

159.19 FPS

168.02 FPS

 Graphics Memory – 64 Lines

1660.62 FPS

868.44 FPS

1486.18 FPS

Futuremark 3DMark05 Scores

3DMark Score

943 3D Marks

727 3DMarks

721 3D Marks

CPU Score

2880 CPUMarks

3414 CPUMarks

3242 CPUMarks

Gaming Tests

GT1 – Return To Proxycon

4.1 FPS

3.3 FPS

3.7 FPS

GT2 – Firefly Forest

2.9 FPS

2.2 FPS

1.8 FPS

GT3 – Canyon Flight

4.6 FPS

3.4 FPS

3.5 FPS

CPU Tests

 

CPU Test 1

1.4 FPS

1.18 FPS

1.6 FPS

CPU Test 2

2.5 FPS

2.9 FPS

2.9 FPS

 

However it must be stated that while the ATI Radeon x600 is impressive, it’s performance is still inferior to ‘gaming notebooks’ such as Dell’s XPS2 or the Asus Z71V which offer a superior graphics card and more dedicated video memory.  However as of current, the E8020D is Fujitsu’s 2nd best gaming laptop (the first being the N6000 series) in terms of 3d performance.

Gaming

With the benchmarks mentioned above, the E8020D with an x600 graphics card should be able to comfortably run most modern games (as of 2005).  I installed Battlefield 1942, a game released in 2002, in order to test the capabilities of this graphics card.
With all texture options, viewing distance options, and lighting options set to max along with raising the number of bots in the game to 400, there was no slowdown and the action was fast paced.

Screenshot of Battlefield 1942 with maximum settings on the E8020D

Sound

The speakers for the E8020 is rather mediocre.  While most other notebooks aren’t known for their speakers, it feels that the E8020 simply has no bass.  However it shouldn’t be too much of a problem as one could simply plug in a set of ear/head phones or external speakers to improve the sound.  As stated previously, the speaker (audio out) port is located in the front of the notebook. 
Please note the sound on my configured E8020 is due to the fact that I chose a model with a dedicated graphics card.  Models that do not have the ATI Radeon X600, will instead have a better sound card in the form of Azalia Codec ALC260 with 6 channels of high definition sound.

Heat & Fan

The E8020 and E8020D have a total of 7 vents located on the left, right, rear and bottom of the notebook.  These vents provide much needed circulation and lowers the use of the fan to cool down the system.  However because one of the vents is on the right side, those who are right handed will sometimes feel heat being blown onto their mouse. 

Compared to my previous IBM T42, heat levels are roughly the same.  Most of the heat experienced are on the left palm rest where the optical drive is located, and around the CPU, where it is only noticable if you are using this notebook on your lap.

Overall, the heat is not bothersome and can be used comfortably on your lap.  Furthermore as I sometimes do extensive gaming, the heat generated is not much of a problem, although it is certainly noticeable.

In regards to the fan, all I can say is ‘what fan?’  The E8020D is as quiet as a mouse and I sometimes wonder if my notebook is alive!  It is THAT quiet.  However there is a fan and it normally runs briefly when using the optical drive or when there are numerous applications running at the same time.  However I must state that both the heat and fan is entirely dependent upon what kind of tasks you perform on the notebook, this is the rule for any notebook.

When using HDTune, temperatures of the hard drive ranged between 109F/42C to 117F /47C when using multiple applications.

Wireless Connectivity

The Lifebook E8020D comes with an Atheros Wireless Super ABG (802.11 a/b/g) card.  The minute I turned on this notebook, it was able to detect several wireless within my area.  I took it to school and was able to use my university’s wireless with ease.
Both the E8020 and E8020D come with the option of internal bluetooth.  However if purchasing from Portable One, installation of the bluetooth will come free of charge.

Battery

An 8 cell battery is included in the E8020D with the option of a 2nd 6 cell battery that can be placed in the modular bay.  Power consumption will vary depending on whether or not the user has opted for a dedicated graphics card or not.  According to Fujitsu, the E8020D should last approximately 3.5 hours with the graphics card, and one more hour with out the card.  However I find these estimates to be a bit optomistic.
Upon heavy use which included some gaming and watching dvd’s, battery life was at most, 2 hours.  When in modest use, such as web browsing and typing, I was able to achieve roughly 3 hours.  This is a bit disappointing compared to other notebooks of similar size.  To those who are interested in this notebook but demand more battery life should consider obtaining a second battery for the modular bay, it should at least give the user 5-6 hours, long enough to use outside until one finds an electrical socket to recharge.
According to Battery Eater Pro, it took 174 minutes to recharge from 30%.

Battery recharge graph

Battery drain graph

AC Adapter

The AC Adapter is about the same as the one I had for my IBM T42.  The E8020D’s adapter is about 5 in (l) x 2 in (d) x 1 in (h) and is rather light. 

Service and Support

The E8020 and E8020D comes with a 1 year international limited warranty with an option for 3 years if you are willing to spend another $100.  Fujitsu is regarded to be one of the leaders of international warranties for their notebooks, along with Hewlett Packard and IBM.  Furthermore, Fujitsu offers a 24 hour service support.

Those who do not want to deal with Fujitsu directly can deal with Portable One instead.  Portable One is an authorized Fujitsu service provider and reseller.  They are able to modify your system (or return it to it’s original state) and have great customer service with some of the nicest and friendliest staffs out there.

Conclusion

The E8020D is the perfect notebook for those who are looking for a combination of power, performance, and weight at an acceptable price.  Those who expressed interest in the Fujitsu N3510, but were disappointed by either its weight, widescreen, or graphics card, should seriously consider the E8020D as an alternative as it is signficantly lighter and offers an ATI x600 rather than an x300.

The design and color scheme of the E8020D is sleek and very professional looking, something you could take to work and not get embarassed by an odd paint job.  It is big enough and powerful enough to become a desktop replacement, yet light enough to bring with you to work, provided you are not walking long distances.  There are lots of ports to satisfy the need to connect more hardware.  And finally, the notebook is very upgradeable as the RAM, optical drive, wireless card, and hard drive are all located in a convenient location and very easy to remove.

Pros

  •  Great screen, colors are vibrant, blacks are actually black, and whites are bright
  • The tough lid is resistant to bends, no matter how much pressure I put onto it
  • Wireless is very responsive
  • Lots of ports, those with many USB based hardware should not worry.
  • Very upgradeable, hard drive, optical drive, RAM, and wireless card are all located conveniently and easy to remove
  • Modular bay allows for easy removal/replacement of an optical drive, room for another hard drive or battery, or to those who want to save more weight, a weight saver
  • Ability to choose between Crystal View and non Crystal View (glossy screen)
  • Very very quiet, to the point where one would think that there is no fan (don’t worry there is a fan).
  • As of 5/2005, prices start at $1399 USD

Cons

  • There is some flex on the keyboard and palmrest
  • Battery life could be better
  • Speakers are mediocre for a notebook
  • Right handed users will feel heat blowing onto their mouse


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