Fujitsu LifeBook T4010 Notebook / Tablet PC Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (83,420)

by Margus Nurk, Estonia

Fujitsu Siemens Computers Lifebook T4010

The Fujitsu LifeBook T4010 is a Tablet PC notebook convertible device.  Fujitsu has more than 60 % of the worldwide Tablet PC market-share and they have been in this market since the beginning, so it seems that Fujitsu has the best experience with this type of product. The T4010 is not a pure Tablet like the Fujitsu Stylistic ST50xx series, the ST50xx is a slate style Tablet PC (no keyboard, just electric pen as input).   The T4010 meanwhile is a kind of a “variable” notebook, meaning that in normal mode you can use the T4010 as an ordinary notebook, but when you flip the screen over on top of the keyboard, it transforms into a tablet style device, and thereby brings to the table the advantages of a tablet and notebook all-in-one.

Fujitsu LifeBook T4010 (view larger image)

The T4010 is targeted at professionals and business people, students in certain disciplines might find this device highly useful too, but the $2,000+ price tag might put it out of the price range for such people.  One field where tablets are doing well is of course medicine. This makes a lot of sense because you can use a tablet easily while you are on your feet, with a regular notebook you really need a flat surface to rest on. With a Tablet PC you can hold the device with one hand and the pen in the other hand acts as a mouse and input device. I personally like to use this Tablet PC feature in situations when an ordinary notebook is uncomfortable, such as in a car behind the steering-wheel (when parked in traffic or waiting for somebody, not while driving preferably!) or even in bed. If you’re flying in cramped conditions with little room in front, a Tablet PC may be easier for input purposed then too.  Taking notes by hand in a meeting and capturing sketches, not just writing, is a nice feature.  Engineers, scientists, designers and anyone capturing flow diagrams could appreciate this feature.  And if you’re worried that the operating system might be tough to get used to, well just remember that Windows XP Tablet PC Edition is nothing more than Windows XP Pro with some added features, there’s not too much of a learning curve.

Specs.

  • Processor: Pentium M 745 (Dothan, 1,8 GHz) (Celeron M 360 and Pentium M 725 or 755 are also available)
  • Memory: 512 MB PC2700 (DDR333) (Upgradeable to 2048 MB)
  • Hard drive: 2.5″ 80 GB 5400 RPM (40/60 GB 4200 rpm also available)
  • Optical drive: DVD-read/CD-RW Combo or DVD DL+/- RW
  • Graphics: Intel 855 GME (up to 64 MB shared system memory)
  • Audio: SigmaTel AC`97
  • Connectivity: Intel PRO Wireless 2200 BG or 2915 ABG (optional), Alps Bluetooth 1.2 (optional), Broadcom BCM 10/100/1000 GBLAN, Lucent AC Link modem, IrDA 1.1
  • Expansion: 1x IrDA, 1x Firewire (4pin mini connector), 1x LAN, 1x modem, 1x headphone/line-out, 1x microphone/line-in, 2x USB 2.0, 1x SD/MS slot, 1x SmartCard slot, 1x type II PC Card slot, 1x docking connector for port replicator
  • Screen: 12,1″ optional non-reflective coating TFT XGA
  • Weight and dimensions: Less than 2 kg with weight saver, 293x244x(up to)37,5 mm
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • OS and software included: Microsoft Windows TabletPC Edition, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Norton Ghost, Corel Grafigo, Mobile Manageability, Security panel application, F-Secure virus scanner. Optional software: Nero Burning ROM, Intervideo WinDVD, Bluetooth Software Suite, Odyssey WLAN Client, Infineon TPM Package.

Reasons for buying.

I didn’t actually buy this T4010 device, it is the property of my employer, but they did let me choose what notebook I wanted.  They expect good results from me, so they let me choose which tools I need for my work, and as didn’t have any experience with a Tablet PC but felt it could benefit my work, that and curiosity drove me to decide on the T4010.

The street price for the configuration I got was 32.000.- Estonian kroons, which translates to something like $2,470 USD.

Build quality and some selling points

The left side bay on the T4010 is hot swappable and modular (view larger image)

The T4010 belongs to Fujitsu’s LifeBook series of products.  So besides just being of good built quality (it feels really sturdy and the screen holds perfectly for this one point flip-over hinge in both positions) you will have some useful goodies that come with all LifeBook products. One such feature is a modular bay system.  The optical drive (DVD/CD) is the default item that goes in the modular bay, but an additional battery or hard drive can be placed there instead and all those devices are hot-swappable. The sweetest part is that you can share those devices with other model series LifeBook notebooks too, except for the tiny LifeBook P and B series products that is.  A second useful feature is the built-in TPM (Trusted Platform Module). With SmartCard reader (built-in or separate) and SecureIT Suite (smart card and software for it) you can encrypt your LifeBook`s hard drive easily. Encrypting a hard drive is beneficial if you have sensitive data so in case of theft, all data stored on the hard drive disk is not accessible, even if somebody tries to put it in another computer to read it. On the bottom of the screen is the so called “security panel”, five buttons for BIOS level password.  A very impressive feature is what’s called an integrated bridge battery.  This integrated bridge battery means that you can swap the main battery out, without shutting the machine down (you do have to put it on sleep) and then put in a freshly charged battery.  After you put the T4010 in sleep mode, you can remove main battery and it will still be stay in an operating mode for 30 seconds, which is surely enough time to swap a juiced up battery in. Like all Lifebook’s, the T4010 is designed to work seamlessly, so sleep is the natural mode if you are not actually using the notebook. I like my tools to be ready anytime within seconds so I keep the T4010 in sleep mode a lot, I don’t want to wait for Windows to fully boot, the only concern is Windows itself because temp files and other garbage will build up over time.  However, one restart on a Sunday evening each week seems to solve this problem for me.

Remove the optical drive, and you can now place an extra hard drive or battery in the T4010’s modular bay (view larger image)

Design

The T4010 converting to Tablet PC mode (view larger image)

The T4010 looks good from the outside.  A combination of black screen cover and solid silver magnesium is maybe a little bit conservative for some people’s tastes, but this adds a “business-class” feeling. The weight of the T4010 is a little less than 2 kg (4.40lbs) which is quite good, all things considered. The 12.1″ XGA (1024×768) screen is non-reflective and especially good if using this notebook in poor lighting conditions, it even works somewhat well in sunlight. On the right or bottom side (depends whether you’re in  tablet or notebook mode) of the T4010 are some small LCD lights that give information about the hard drive status, battery/batteries and so on, a power button and then five buttons related to security (BIOS password) and other tasks, e.g. scrolling pages, switching screen modes, acting as ENTER and function key and others. The pen, called a digitizer, is located on left side of the screen. Included in box is twine for connecting the pen with the notebook, this is a really useful “small matter” that prevents losing the pen, which happens to cost $40 or more. Also on the upper and bottom sides of the screen are two built-in microphones.

Hardware and security buttons on the T4010 (view larger image)

Performance

The 1.8 GHz Pentium M and Intel 855 GME chipset performed exceptionally well. The only concern for me was the amount of memory I had on board. Mainly I work with Microsoft Access based applications, so 1 GB is better than 512 MB when it comes to database tasks. More memory is also handy when you want to run Microsoft SQL Server on your notebook.

Comparison of tablet models using Super Pi to calculate Pi to 2 million digits:

Model

Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits

Fujitsu LifeBook T4010 (1.8 GHz Sonoma Pentium M)


1m 59s

Toshiba Tecra M4 Tablet PC (1.6GHz Sonoma Pentium M)


1m 50s

Toshiba R15 Tablet PC (1.6GHz Dothan Pentium M)

2m 8s

HP tc4200 (1.73GHz Alviso PM)

1m 51s

ThinkPad X41 Tablet PC (1.5GHz Alviso LV PM)

2m 3s

Input Devices

Fujitsu T4010 in notebook mode with keyboard available for use (view larger image)

The beige colored “apple-look” keyboard, similar to other Lifebook’s, is sturdy and responsive. The key pitch is around 3-4 mm and I personally like the soft sound that gives audible so you both hear and feel a key has been pressed correctly. Do not think I mean the audible feedback of the keyboard is a cheap clack, the sound is really soft but solid feeling.  The Left Ctrl key is in the right place — that being the bottom left corner, so many notebooks have a function key there and it’s really annoying. LifeBook’s have never followed such annoying keyboard mistakes, often done by other manufacturers. An almost full size Enter key is a blessing too. The Windows key is in the right place, right where it should be. Call me lazy, but I prefer keyboard shortcuts and that’s why I never liked IBM’s ThinkPad keyboards without the Windows key. If you want to hit Window-key + D to access the desktop or just open some program or document, there is no key presented on IBM’s ThinkPad and so you are forced to use the touchpad or stick. I don’t like to be forced to do something I don’t want to do!  The only concern for the T4010s keyboard is that the Home and End keys share their place with PgUp and PgDn keys and are accessible only in conjunction with using the Fn key. The Touchpad is made by Alps and does well as usual. Beneath the touchpad are left- and right click buttons with a scroll button between them.

Speakers

Tiny stereo speakers are located at the front and are usable mainly for VoIP (e.g. Skype). You can listen to music too, but do not expect anything of great quality. However, for VoIP they are cleverly placed because no matter what mode the T4010 is in, tablet or notebook sound from the speakers will not interfere with microphones. Using it either way with Skype or MSN audio conversation service is pleasant and can cut some serious numbers from your phone bill.

Expansion and Ports

Front side of T4010 (view larger image)

On the front of the notebook is placed a power indicator, a headphone/line-out port, microphone line-in connector and a socket for MemoryStick/PRO/SD cards. On the right side is an optical drive (or whatever is there, remember it is a modular bay system) and standard Kensington slot for security. On the back are located (from left to right) power inlet, standard modem port, USB port, infrared and behind small plastic covers LAN and VGA output. On left side can be found a Firewire port, second USB port, PCMCIA slot, SmartCard reader and hard switch for wireless connectivity. Especially good is the last button because it’s the easiest way to manage connections and save some battery if WiFi or Bluetooth are not needed. Antenna-switch-module software lets the user configure how this button will act for wireless LAN and Bluetooth. Also on the left side is the hot air outlet for cooling the system, air inlets are placed on bottom. This is good to know because if you use the T4010 as notebook while in bed where intake is blocked, the T4010 will get very hot and noisy. Generally noise is not a concern with the T4010, only under heavy load does the cooling kick-in and you can hear it. Ordinarily Office application use is not demanding enough to stress the Pentium M, even when multitasking.  But if I play Quake 3, the T4010 will be noisy.  For me this doesn’t matter as I use headphones anyway. Besides, this notebook is not designed for gaming, and Quake 3 is the upper limit of gaming for which you can expect decent frame rates.

Above view of T4010 (view larger image)

On the bottom of T is an expansion bus for the port replicator. A port replicator lets a user connect all the external devices once to the replicator and then use the notebook as a pseudo-desktop machine by placing it in the dock. There are 4 USB ports on the replicator, headphone/line-out, microphone/line-in, VGA, DVI, LAN pass through and power adapter inlet.

Battery

TheT4010 has a 6-cell 4800 mAh battery and Fujitsu claims runtime for up to 5 hours on this. As usual, small print says that it depends on applications used and other circumstances (first and foremost it means reduced screen brightness, which I really hate). The battery life depends so much on actual usage that there should be some scenarios. For comfortable battery life what you really need is a second battery — an added 3800 mAh can make the T last even longer. I played my beloved Quake 3 using two batteries (regular 4800 mAh and additional 3800 mAh) and I got a very impressive result, I could play almost 2 hours.  Watching a DVD (with main battery only, WiFi active for MSN and Skype) resulted in battery runtime of 2 hours 41 minutes. Office usage with main battery only (Outlook, Avant Browser with 4-5 tabs, 2 Word documents, 2 simultaneous MSN conversations, WiFi and Bluetooth active, highest screen brightness) resulted in 3 hours 57 minutes of battery life. Not bad results at all.

Wireless connectivity

The T4010 I have came with an Intel PRO 2200 BG mini PCI card for the internal wireless card.  It rests beneath the keyboard and worked as expected, after Intel released 9th series drivers for this wireless card, all is seamless. The Alps Bluetooth is good too. I hooked up a Fujitsu PX mouse, GPS, Samsung SGH-D500 as a GPRS modem and Samsung Bluetooth headset and there was no problem to manage all those devices even if they were used at the same time. Products from Alps Electric are always something you can count on and drivers for them never cause problems either, that’s why Alps parts are often used in quality notebooks.

Conclusion

From a notebook perspective the T4010 has good build quality, looks great and offers a lot of security and data safety related features.  Performance wise it is powerful enough for me.  From a Tablet PC perspective, I probably never used all the capabilities offered by this machine.  But I am now getting a new notebook, the LifeBook S7020, and I already know I will miss some of the features offered by the T4010. Most of all I will miss the possibility to browse the net or use MSN messenger while in bed! With Tablet PC it is far more comfortable then with ordinary notebook.

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Modular bay system
  • Rich software bundle
  • Variable between notebook / Tablet PC
  • Looks nice
  • Solid build quality
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • A little bit expensive
  • You can fall into some habits that are hard to break!

Pricing and Availability




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