capsule review

Fujitsu LifeBook T4020 Tablet PC

At a Glance
  • Fujitsu LifeBook T4020 Cent PM 740 1.73GHz/2MBL2/533MHz/512MB/60GB/Combo/NIC/802.11abg/Bluetooth/12.1"/XPT

    PCWorld Rating

Fujitsu LifeBook T4020 Tablet PC
Artwork: Rick Rizner

Fujitsu's T4020 is the Ft. Knox of convertible notebooks, with several built-in security measures that protect your data and handwritten notes. As a notebook is makes a good, light mainstream option. Converting it to a tablet, however, takes a little effort.

The T4020 has three options for security. The tablet buttons double as a combination lock, and a built-in smart card reader blocks access to the operating system, thus protecting files and folders. To save yourself the trouble of remembering and typing passwords, you can also order the T4020 with a biometric fingerprint reader ($50 extra), which is installed between the touchpad's mouse buttons where the scroll button would normally go.

This sleek unit, as a notebook, weighs less than 5 pounds not including the power adapter. It features a comfortable keyboard, a combination Wi-Fi and Bluetooth switch, and sturdy monitor and network port covers.

Our 1.73-GHz Pentium M 740-equipped review unit landed a WorldBench 5 score of 75, typical for the processor and fast enough for all but the most demanding applications. The hard drive is not upgradable. Our test unit had 60GB of storage, though you can opt for an 80GB model. Battery life was above average among our current batch of ultraportables. I could work unplugged for up to 4 hours straight on our test unit's six-cell primary battery, which lasted 4 hours. You can go even longer if you insert an optional $134 three-cell battery in the modular bay, which in our $2149 test unit contained a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive.

As a tablet, the T4020 functions as a good note-taking device. It has rounded sides that make it comfortable to carry, and its indoor-outdoor screen is actually readable in bright sunlight. I found writing on the hard plastic screen easy, and the pen quickly stores away in an exposed silo in the screen frame.

Converting to a tablet configuration, however, presented some peccadilloes. In order to close the notebook's lid, you have to manually insert a tab into its slot at the front edge of the keyboard. The tab rotates in a well in the lid, and you actually have to push the tab around so that it pops out the top or the bottom of the lid (depending on whether the lid is closing face up or face down). Then, you guide the tab into its slot. Better designed convertibles have screens that automatically lock into place. The tablet buttons take a while to learn but are fairly easy to use once you know how--with the exception of minor extra steps like having to press twice to bring up the shortcut menu.

When you hold the T4020 like a slate, the optical drive is at the bottom--not the most convenient location. At least Fujitsu's BayLock feature automatically shuts down the optical drive in tablet mode so that accidentally pressing the eject button doesn't pop the media tray. You can turn this feature off if you need to use the optical drive while in tablet mode.

This indoor-outdoor convertible tablet keeps data secure, although switching between slate and notebook is a bit clumsy.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Convertible notebook with memory card reader has excellent security features, but conversion to tablet mode is awkward.

    Pros

    • Offers excellent security features

    Cons

    • Awkward conversion to tablet mode
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