Fujitsu Lifebook N7010 Hands-On and Video

This morning, Fujitsu announced the Lifebook N7010, a notebook with a novel feature: a secondary, 4-inch touchscreen LCD built into the keyboard deck. We’ve had a few days to play around with a pre-production version of this 16-inch, $1,499 desktop replacement. Design Fujitsu went with a traditional black with the exterior of the Lifebook N7010, but tiny metallic flakes in the cover make it sparkle under the lights. The 15.3 x 11.2 x 2.2-inch desktop replacement is a bit on the heavy side, at 7.4 pounds, but it’s not unreasonable for a system with a 16-inch screen. The N7010 has a full size keyboard that is fairly stiff, and provides good feedback. The touchpad has a slightly gritty texture to it, but our finger slid over its surface with no problems. There’s a good amount of wasted space around the keyboard–an inch and a half on either side. Considering all this room, we wonder why Fujitsu didn’t see fit to include a number pad. All this space below the keyboard and above it (to accommodate the trackpad and the second display), makes the keyboard seem smaller than it is. The notebook has a good number of ports: 4 USB, FireWire, eSATA, ExpressCard/54, Ethernet, VGA, and HDMI, but curiously, none are on the left side of the system. That’s reserved for the Blu-ray drive. Display(s) Open up the notebook, and yes, you do notice the 16.1 inch 16:9 display which has a resolution of 1366 x 768. The glossy display is very crisp, and has good viewing angles both horizontally and vertically. Then there’s the secondary display: Right above the keyboard is a 4-inch touchscreen set off by a brushed aluminum frame. The touchscreen, which has a resolution of 960 x 544 (according to the display manager) was responsive, and didn’t require too hard of a press. The display can fit up to 15 quick-launch icons that can be configured by pressing the “Setting” button in the lower right-hand corner. A window pops up on the main screen showing all the icons listed in the second display. Unfortunately, you can’t simply drag and drop icons; in order to add an icon, you first must remove an icon. The new icon will then appear in the space vacated by the old one. The Menu button can also be used to launch a slideshow in the second display; we merely needed to specify a source folder for images. Interestingly, Windows regards the N7010’s second display as if it were an external monitor. This allowed us to drag other windows, such as a Web browser, onto the second display. We opened an episode of “The Simpsons” in Hulu, dragged it to the second display, and selected “full screen.” To our delight, the window resized perfectly to the small display, and its touchscreen controls worked flawlessly when stopping and starting the video. Above the display is a 1.3-MP webcam, which produced decent, but dark visuals using the included software. The embedded microphone picked up sound well, and the four speakers mounted on the lid below the screen were very loud for their size, and even had an acceptable amount of bass. Performance The N7010 is outfitted with a 2.26-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor and 4GB of RAM; we were unable to run PCMark Vantage, but the notebook handled everyday tasks well. The shock-mounted 320 GB hard drive transferred 4.97GB of multimedia files in 4 minutes 55 seconds, a rate of 17.25MBps, which is 1 MBps faster than mainstream notebooks, but about 6 MBps slower than desktop replacements. The discrete ATI Radeon HD 3470 graphics with 256MB of dedicated memory was able to notch 5,249 on 3DMark03, which is pretty low these days for a desktop replacement (the average being 13,340), but on a par with the mainstream notebook average. Considering it has discrete graphics and an HDMI port, we’re glad to see that Fujitsu included a Blu-ray drive. Wi-Fi and Battery Life At 15 feet, the N7010’s Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5100 (802.11AGN) radio notched a transfer rate of 18.9 Mbps, on a par with the class average. The notebook also comes equipped with Bluetooth. Unfortunately, the extra display and discrete graphics negatively impact battery life: the N7010 lasted just 2 hours and 3 minutes on our LAPTOP Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi), nearly 40 minutes less than the desktop replacement average. Verdict We’re not sure how to take Fujitsu’s innovation. A second, touchscreen display is a step beyond the multimedia touch controls that are becoming ubiquitous on notebooks, and we have no doubt that other laptop manufacturers will take a hard look at the N7010. It’s very cool to be able to launch apps quickly, as well as watch videos on the small screen, but there needs to be more functionality. For instance, you can also drag Windows Gadgets onto the second display; they would be even more useful if they could be resized to better fit the screen. Being able to use the second display to get email alerts, watch a stock ticker, or get RSS feeds would make it more than a neat trick, and turn it into something not just entertaining, but essential for all notebooks. Our pre-production unit kept us from running all of our benchmarks and giving this notebook a star rating; look for a full review in the coming month. Here’s our hands-on video. [flq:02a91c4df4b14ad6bffc19126bab1e16]

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