Top 10 ultraportable laptops

Ideal for the mobile professional, these notebooks stand out for their low weight and small footprint

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Fujitsu LifeBook T2020
LifeBook T2020 Review, by Lauren Barnard, PC World May 5, 2009

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Rating:

CPU: Core 2 Duo U9400; CPU speed: 1400MHz; Display size: 12.1 inches; Hard drive size: 160GB; Weight (min): 3.5 pounds; WorldBench 6 rating: Fair

Pros:
Great matte screen with vivid colors
Nice, long battery life

Cons:
Underpowered components
Very poor audio

Bottom Line: Fujitsu's underpowered tablet PC, the T2020, is at least light and long-lived enough to get you through the work day.

REVIEW:
Like most tablet PCs, Fujitsu's LifeBook T2020 caters to business folk. This laptop may shy away from sex appeal in favor of getting the job done, but it's angling to be a useful, lightweight (3.6 pounds), compact (11.7 by 8.6 by 1.3 inches) package. While it doesn't deliver in speed, it sure is ready for the long haul.

The LifeBook T2020 retains virtually all of the physical features of its predecessor, the sober, professional-looking LifeBook T2010. The only thing about the T2020 that screams "2009," however, is its flawless 12.1-inch screen. The 1280-by-800-pixel panel looks exceptional, with much brighter and more-vivid colors than a typical matte laptop screen produces. Graphics, photos, and text are all very sharp and well defined, and the screen maintains its visually appealing contrast and intensity indoors and out.

The included stylus permits very smooth and easy writing on the tablet in most applications, including essential ones such as Microsoft Word and Google Gmail. After it picked up on my specific handwriting (a rather sloppy scrawl), the T2020's transcription app began to recognize even my most illegible words. The only way to activate tablet features of this laptop is with the included stylus--so you don't have to worry about fingerprints and smudges on the screen. And to help you avoid losing it, the stylus fits snugly into a readily accessible compartment on the side of the laptop.

Need more than a touchscreen? Simply rotate the screen, and you can use the full keyboard. The keyboard is flat and plain (and vaguely reminiscent of yesterday's clunky laptop keyboards) with a small, soft touchpoint in the center. If you don't mind doing without a touchpad, fine--but Lenovo, for example, gives users both options in its notebooks (including the ThinkPad T400). Several shortcut keys sit on the most accessible side of screen in tablet mode. The shortcut keys include page up, page down, a secondary function key, a key for screen rotation, and a Ctrl-Alt-Delete combo button for moments when everything goes sideways.

Few tablet PCs offer stellar performance, and the LifeBook T2020 is no exception, struggling to run Windows Vista with its 2GB of RAM and 1.4GHz processor. The result was a score of 65 on our WorldBench 6 test suite, landing this machine toward the back of the ultraportable pack. The limp Intel integrated graphics didn't help this machine regain much ground, either. On the other hand, the LifeBook T2020's battery ran like a champ, holding out for 7 hours, 17 minutes in our power drain tests. So, it may not run quickly, but it'll last long enough for you to get the job done.

The LifeBook T2020 comes with plenty of tablet PC-intensive software, such as Pen Flicks Training--a program that familiarizes users with stylus tricks to increase their efficiency--and a Handwriting Personalization app for speedier and more-accurate transcribing.

Audio from the single scrawny speaker located on the front of the keyboard sounds horrible and tinny. Obviously, this is not a multimedia-minded machine.

The laptop has two USB ports: One is located on the right side of the keyboard, and the other on the back next to the ethernet port. That arrangement should discourage you from trying to connect any external storage device that requires two USB ports. You'll also find a FireWire port, a PC Card slot, and a flash card slot good for Memory Stick and SD Cards. On the inside, 802.11n for Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Fujitsu LifeBook T2020 doesn't warrant much hype, and it isn't the best portable machine for playing media. But that's not why you might want to buy this $1550 laptop (our unit's price, as of April 13, 2009). Its strengths are its ability to handle computing basics, its solid tablet PC features, and its battery life--good for a day's work on the run.

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