One screen wasn't enough for Fujitsu. The company just had to tack on a second, smaller screen and create a sort of odd mashup with its Fujitsu Lifebook N7010 laptop.
The main screen is a fairly crisp 16in, 16:9 aspect-ratio screen (new for the LifeBook maker). The other panel is a 4in touchscreen that serves as a shortcut-heavy zone. Interesting, yes - but does that tiny secondary screen make the Fujitsu Lifebook N7010 worth the US $1,500 asking price (we don't yet have UK pricing)?
Since the second screen is the biggest deal with the Fujitsu Lifebook N7010, let's look first at what it does - and what it doesn't.
Unlike with the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds, the Fujitsu Lifebook N7010's secondary screen isn't an extra place to drop your desktop images. It is a functional work area. For the most part, it links to various programs hiding on your computer.
Whether you want to take a screen shot or launch a browser, the buttons are all right there. Want it to launch a game? Done (but nothing too demanding - we'll get to that later). You can also do goofy stuff with the Fujitsu Lifebook N7010's secondary panel such as making it serve as a photo slideshow screen. Useful? Maybe, maybe not, but it opens up some possibilities.
You could also use it as an external monitor, moving the mouse on to the second screen or dragging a window onto the 960-by-544-pixel area. We even starting watching video clips on it - a nice touch. An even nicer touch: we could use it as a mini-drawing tablet. Goofing around, we dragged the MS Paint window into the second screen. It resized and worked great for drawing our stick-figure masterpiece.
The Fujitsu Lifebook N7010's main screen, that 16in, 1355-by-768-pixel panel, looks surprisingly colorful and bright. And it has just the right amount of glossy coating. It does bounce back a good deal of light when outdoors. Adjust the screen to compensate, and it's not a major pain. What is a pain is the off-size resolution that prohibits you from getting a full 1080p picture on-screen. For that, you'll need to send video from the HDMI port to a monitor.
Now let's take a look around the rest of this box. In the 3.3kg, 386x277x48mm case lies an amazingly small keyboard. We're scratching our heads on this one. It's not as if Fujitsu needed to make room for a 10-key pad.
Imagine a plastic frame almost 2 inches thick on every side surrounding a set of keys you'd expect to find on squished ultraportable. We know that the Fujitsu Lifebook N7010 needs to accommodate a keyboard, a touchpad, and an additional screen, but c'mon. We're using smaller, 13.3in notebooks that have larger keyboards. This is just ridiculous.
Because of all that wasted real estate we almost overlooked the fact that the Fujitsu Lifebook N7010's keyboard still has a good, tactile feel and is spill resistant. The textured touchpad also feels right when mousing around. And the gesture-based pinching and zooming functionality is only a good thing.
The only downer here is the tiny targets that serve as mouse buttons. We do like the scroll button between the Fujitsu Lifebook N7010's left-and-right mouse-clicks, but it seems a little extraneous considering that the right side of the touch zone is already configured to do the same thing. In short: bigger buttons, please.
While we're making requests, how about a little juice under the hood? The Fujitsu Lifebook N7010's spec list reads much as one would expect for a midrange laptop: an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 CPU (2.26GHz), ATI Radeon HD 3470 graphics (256MB), and 4GB of RAM. Translation: the N7010 will work well enough with a variety of tasks, but it won't exactly rip through games at a breakneck pace.
The Fujitsu Lifebook N7010 earned a score of 86 in our PC WorldBench 6 test suite - a fairly solid figure. But its numbers turn south if you hope to play heavy-duty video-based applications. Due to the off resolution, the highest we could run our game tests at was 1024-by-768-pixel resolution.
And the on-board GPU? Well, let's just say you might as well watch a slideshow instead of playing games. It runs Enemy Territory: Quake Wars at a meager 15 frames per second. Unreal Tournament III fares a little better, scoring 24 frames per second. One thing that's pretty obvious: the Fujitsu Lifebook N7010's second screen chews up battery life. the N7010 lasted only about 2 hours, 39 minutes on a single charge. (And don't bother trying to figure out how to turn off the second display to eke out extra battery life. It's a major pain and doesn't work that way.)
However, we're giving a thumbs up to the eSATA port, the 802.11n Wi-Fi, the Bluetooth capability, and the Blu-ray optical drive that also get packed into the case. The bundled software is decent (mostly trialware mixed in with a suite of CyberLink multimedia tools such as PowerDVD and PowerDirector) - but at the end of the day, it all comes back to those two screens.
The screens make this laptop unique enough to stand apart from a quickly-growing crowd of 16-inch models - but if you're buying the Fujitsu Lifebook N7010, sign up for a carpal tunnel specialist, because of the undersized keyboard.