Retro Review: Fujitsu LifeBook P2020

by Reads (4,609)

The Fujitsu P series has been one of the class-leading ranges of ultra-portables for many years.  The P2020 is one of this family and uses the innovative Transmeta Crusoe CPU. It has the rare feature of relying on passive cooling, with no fan, so it is a good choice for people who dislike fan noise. This feature is assisted by another of its features – plenty of metal in the construction. It feels like one very solid notebook. Drop it on your foot and it’s more likely that the foot will need repair, not the notebook. So how does the P2020 perform in real life?

Reasons for Buying

I was fed up with carrying a heavy 15.1" Dell Inspiron and yearned for something lighter, which would avoid confrontations with airline check-in staff over the weight of my hand baggage. When I saw the P2020 being sold off at a discount I decided it was time to part with my money. It seemed to offer the right balance of portability with sufficient power to run standard office tasks and also have decent battery life for less weight than the Dell’s carrying bag.

What’s in the Box?

The P2020 came in a commendably small box containing in cardboard packaging:

·                     The P2020 computer

·                     The PSU, power cable and battery

·                      Six CD-ROMs

  •  
    • Windows Me recovery
    • Drivers and Utilities
    • WinDVD 2.4
    • Lifebook Mobile Manageability
    • Microsoft Works 6.0
    • Microsoft Word 2000

·                     Getting started guide (in 6 languages)

·                     Safety and warranty guide (in 19 languages)

 

The contents of the box

 

Hardware Specs: Fujitsu-Siemens P2020

 

The P2020 configuration comprised the following hardware and specifications:

·                     CPU: Transmeta Crusoe TM5600 633MHz with Ali M1535 chipset

·                     Display: 10" WSXGA (1280 x 600) matte LCD

·                     Memory: 128MB 133MHz SDRAM (112MB available)

·                     Hard Disc: 15GB 4200rpm 2.5" HDD (Toshiba MK1517GAP)

·                     Graphics: ATI Rage Mobility-M with 4MB SDRAM

·                     Optical Drive: Matshita SR-8175 8X DVD-ROM drive

·                     Ports: 2 x USB 1.0, Firewire (IEEE 1394), modem (RJ11), VGA (via special dongle), microphone, headphone, line out, 1 x PC Card slot (Cardbus compatible), S-video

·                     Audio: Ali M1535 + Sigmatel STAC9723 Codec  + stereo internal loudspeakers

·                     QuickPoint IV mouse (trackpoint type pointing device)

·                     Standard 3 cell battery (10.8V, 1800mAh = 19.44Whr)

·                     Optional 6 cell battery (10.8V, 3600mAh = 38.88Whr)

·                     Fujitsu 40W (16V, 2.50A) power supply with 2-pin connector

·                     Dimensions: published:- 263 x 182 x 35 ~ 40mm (10.3 x 7.2 x 1.4~1.6" (including feet))

·                     Weight with standard 3 cell battery = 1.56kg ( 3.44lb)

·                     Travel weight including PSU and cables 1.9kg (4.19lbs) (6 cell battery adds 0.14kg (0.3lb))

Design and Build

The weight of the P2020 puts it into the ultra-portable class. However, it feels that it has been hewn from a piece of metal so it is quite dense and feels relatively heavy. The main chassis appears to be a metal casting and is extremely rigid. The display back is also metal but the keyboard surround / palm rest appears to be plastic. I haven’t tried, but this notebook feels solid enough to withstand being driven over when closed. The notebook may have been designed to fit the keyboard which is towards the back of the chassis leaving room for a small palm rest with three buttons. There’s no touchpad: Instead there’s a Trackpoint device embedded in the keyboard. The power button, plus 4 other buttons and the two speakers are below the display together with an LCD status indicator. This display shows power and battery status, hard disk and optical drive activity, PC card activity and the Caps Lock, Num Lock and Scroll Lock indicators.  There is no external LED to show the power status. There is also a selector switch for the four buttons. They can either be for program short-cuts or for optical drive operation.

 

Buttons, status display and speakers below the display

 

The P2020’s colour scheme is silver with a metallic blue insert in the display cover and a metallic blue band around the front and sides. During travel the display is held closed by spring-loaded catches. The hinges have no looseness and are adjusted to hold the display firmly in position without needing to use two hands to adjust the display position. The battery forms the front of the palm rest. There is also a high capacity battery option that provides a bigger palm rest.

 

Much of the bottom of the notebook covered with a thin layer of felt. I have seen this on some other Fujitsu notebooks and seems to be to stop direct contact with reasonably warm metal. In addition there are four feet, each about 3mm (1/8" long. The only removable cover is for the hard disk bay. There are no air vents on the bottom or the sides. The battery is held in place by two spring-loaded latches, so battery removal need two hands.

 

Underside of the P2020 with optional high capacity battery

The Keyboard

The keyboard has 84 keys with black lettering on light grey plastic. The main alphabetic keys have 17mm pitch but most of the other keys are slightly smaller, with 14mm pitch. The right shift key is one of the small sized keys. The Fn key occupies the front left corner which suits me fine, but will cause other people to run away. J and F have small dimples to help the touch typists. Personally, I miss dedicated Pg Up and Pg Dn keys but there’s no space for them. The trackpoint is located between the G,H and B keys. The keyboard is firmly mounted and responsive with a comfortable action in spite of the limited travel. The third mouse button can be used in conjunction with the pointing stick to scroll up, down, left or right.

 

The P2020’s keyboard. Note the slightly curved sides of the notebook

A Tour of the Sides

All of the ports are on the back of the computer with the PC card slot on the right side, the optical drive on the left side and the battery on the front. The two USB ports are quite close together which can create problems with either fat or wide devices. There is no network port but there is a blanking plate over a suitably-sized hole on the back.

 

The front is occupied by the battery

 

Left side from back to front: Optical drive and security slot

 

The back from left to right: Reset hole, Firewire (IEEE 1394), headphone, microphone, line out, VGA dongle, S-Video, 2 x USB, modem, AC adaptor

 

Right side: The PC card slot

The Display

The display is an adequately bright extra-wide 10" diagonal 1080 x 600 matte LCD. This is quite a high resolution with small pixels (140 pixels per inch) – about the same as the Sony TX / TZ series. There is one stuck (red) pixel. However, it is not obtrusive because of the very small pixel size. There are 9 brightness settings. However, the display is not bright enough for outside use. While the extra wide screen is useful for watching DVDs, the limited height means considerable scrolling is needed when working with documents or web browsing.

 

Widescreen movies will feel at home

 

But there’s not much room for the technical content of NBR!

 

Viewing angles are above average for displays of this type. The horizontal viewing angle range is good and the vertical range moderate for text work. However, colour images are best viewed at 90°. They become darker when the top of the screen is pushed back and lighter if it is pulled forward.

 

The display viewed from different angles

Audio Quality

The P2020 contains two fairly small loudspeakers located below the display. The audio volume is adequate but somewhat rich in the higher frequencies with no equalisation option in the audio driver. There is no built-in microphone. Unusually, this notebook does have a line out socket as well as a headphone socket, which increases the options for connecting an external audio device.

Processor and Chipset

The P2020 is designed for stamina, not speed, and is powered by the Transmeta Crusoe TM5600 CPU. This CPU, including the integrated northbridge, has a power rating of 2.9W compared with over 30W for a standard Core Duo CPU. The low power consumption arises from a simplified chip design relying on the VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) command set (some more details here). The CPU uses 8MB of the available RAM.

CPU-Z reports for the P2020

 

Hard Disk

 

The supplied hard disk is a 15GB 2.5" 4200rpm Toshiba MK1517GAP using the PATA interface. SiSoftware Sandra’s test result for this hard disk is shown below. The buffered read speed is 11MB/s.

 

 

 

Optical Drive

The optical drive is the Matshita SR-8175 DVD-ROM. This is a standard slim (12.7mm / 1/2") thick unit. This reads DVDs and CDs but has no disk burning capability.

Benchmarks for P2020 (Crusoe TM5600)

SuperPi

No review is complete without a SuperPi result. SuperPi is often used as a test for raw CPU performance. The TM56 in the P2020 needed 13 minutes 42 seconds to complete the calculation to 2 million digits. The TM5600 is clearly not the CPU to choose for computational speed.

 

 

The table below compares the  P2020’s SuperPi score with some other notebooks

Notebook

Time

Fujitsu-Siemens P2020 (Transmeta Crusoe TM6500 633MHz)

13m 42s

Zepto 6024W (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 with 800MHz FSB and 667MHz RAM)

0m 59s

Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200 with 667MHz FSB & memory speed)

1m 02s

Samsung Q35 (1.83MHz Core 2 Duo T5600 with 667MHz FSB and 533MHz RAM)

1m 16s

Samsung R20 (1.73GHz T2250 with 533MHz FSB and memory speed)

1m 23s

Samsung X60 (1.66GHz Core Duo (T2300) with 533MHz memory speed)

1m 29s

Sony Vaio VGN-G11XN/B (1.33GHz Core Solo U1500)

1m 46s

Fujitsu S6120 (Pentium M 1.6GHz)

2m 29s

Dell Inspiron 2650 (Pentium 4 Mobile 1.6GHz)

4m 05s

 

It has been suggested that SuperPi should be superseded by wPrime which is multi-threaded. The TM5600 completed the 32M calculation in 608.792s. This is somewhat slower than we are used to seeing for the recent dual core CPUs but at least it completed the test without giving up! The P2020 took 21332 seconds for the wPrime stability test.

 

 

Notebook / CPU

wPrime 32M time

Fujitsu-Siemens P2020 (Transmeta Crusoe TM6500 633MHz)

608.792s

Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz)

42.385s

Samsung X60plus (Core 2 Duo T7200 @ 2.0GHz)

44.922s

Samsung Q35 (Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83GHz)

46.274s

Samsung R20 (Core Duo T2250 @ 1.73GHz)

47.563s

Sony Vaio VGN-G11XN/B (1.33GHz Core Solo U1500)

124.581s

Fujitsu S6120 (Pentium M 1.6GHz)

113.705s

Dell Inspiron 2650 (Pentium 4 Mobile 1.6GHz)

231.714s

 

SiSoftware Sandra is another software package which contains benchmarking modules and includes a database of test results.

 

The results graphs for the CPU tests are given below. These results show that the 633MHz TM5600 has similar speed to a 433MHz Celeron and 300MHz AMD K6-2.

 

SiSoftware Sandra CPU test results

 

Sandra’s memory bandwidth benchmark shows that the P2020’s memory speed is around 260MB/s. This is around one quarter of the speed of PC2100 RAM. Not very fast, but it’s in proportion with the amount of memory that needs addressing.

 

Sandra’s memory bandwidth test result

PCMark

Unfortunately, the more recent versions of PCMark don’t like the limited hardware of the P2020. Fortunately PCMark02 will run. The table below compares the PCMark02 test result with some other notebooks. The result is in the same range as other notebooks with similar hardware.

Notebook

PCMark02 Score

 

CPU

Memory

HDD

Fujitsu P2020 (633MHz Crusoe TM5600)

1098

1085

245

Fujitsu S6120  (1.6GHz Pentium M)

5004

3950

363

Sony Vaio VGN-G11XN/B (1.33GHz Core Solo U1500)

N/A

9565

598

Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700)

 

 

 

3Dmark

None of the versions of 3Dmark will run on the P2020. The generous 4MB of graphics memory on the ATI 3D Rage Mobility limits the 3D options to name only. The P2020 is best used for strategy games such as Solitaire.

Battery, Power Supply and Cooling System

The power supply is a small and light 40W (16V, 2.5A) unit which has a 2 pin power connector. It’s one size bigger than the 45W PSU for the Sony G11 but much smaller than the standard notebook PSUs. Some manufacturers tend to spoil a thin-and-light notebook package buy including a big PSU. The P2020 isn’t one of those.

 

The P2020’s PSU between the G11’s 45W PSU and a Samsung 90W PSU

 

The standard 3 cell battery is rated at 10.8V, 1.8Ah, 19.44Whr is claimed to give up to 3 hours battery life. This is barely adequate for a mobile user so I invested in the high capacity battery which doubles the running time to a claimed 6 hours. In reality I found I could achieve a bit over 5 hours with the display at usable brightness. DVD playback was less satisfactory with the high capacity battery being drained in two hours.

 

What about heat and fan noise? As already noted, this notebook has no fan so the fan noise is zero (and fortunately the hard disk isn’t too noisy either). Nor is heat a problem with this notebook. The whole notebook warms up gradually but not excessively. The felt on the underside of the notebook also helps the surface temperatures from being uncomfortable (as well as providing extra friction when this notebook is used as a laptop). The CPU and GPU are on the right side of the notebook but a peek under the keyboard reveals a metal plate which I suspect is a heat spreader over these components to enable convective cooling through the keyboard.

 

Under the P2020’s keyboard

Warranty and Customer Support

Fujitsu-Siemens provide a one year return-to-base warranty as standard. The P2020 (or a couple of other Fujitsu notebooks I have owned) have not needed any warranty service. When I wanted to buy the VGA dongle and the extended battery I phoned up the Fujitsu-Siemens customer services who quickly answered the phone and provided contact details of a supplier. The P2020 has given no cause for concern over build quality.

Conclusions

The P2020 is an unusual notebook using an innovative CPU that set out to reduce power consumption and increase battery run time couple with a high-resolution widescreen display to reduce the overall notebook footprint. The low power CPU enables passive cooling without a fan.

 

In use the P2020 is a little slow. The single core CPU means one task at a time with a noticeable time lag when trying to multi-task. Performance isn’t helped by the limited available RAM. Fortunately Windows Me does not have such a big memory footprint as some of its successors.

 

The P2020 alongside the 12.1" Sony G11

 

In use (and yes, I did travel with the P2020 instead of a 15" notebook) the major limitation was the display. The very small pixels gave my eyes a hard time (I would avoid the Sony TZ series for the same reason) while the limited vertical height was inconvenient (a little reminiscent of the Epson PX8 with its 8 line 80 column display). Performance running Microsoft Office 2000 was OK but Windows Me has compatibility problems with some recent software.

 

Fujitsu have taken the limitations of the P2020 on board and made improvements for the P2040 with a faster CPU, 256MB RAM and 768 pixel height display. You can order the P2040 from Fujitsu here.

Pros

·                     Quiet fanless design

·                     Compact size with excellent construction quality

·                     High resolution display

·                     Small and light power supply

·                     Built-in optical drive

·                     Good quality keyboard

Cons

·                     Very slow CPU

·                     Limited display height means much vertical scrolling

·                     Mediocre audio

·                     Trackpoint point device

·                     VGA port needs optional dongle

·                     USB is only USB 1.1


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