capsule review

Fujitsu LifeBook P7230

At a Glance
  • Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 Core Solo U1400 1.2GHz/2MBL2/533MHz/1GB/60GB/DVDMDL/GigNIC/abg/10.6"WXGA/VB

    PCWorld Rating

The LifeBook P7230 is the lightest laptop we've seen that includes an integrated optical drive. It weighs 2.6 pounds, with a dual-layer DVD burner in place. Though the 2.4-pound Asus U1F has the edge in performance, the Fujitsu has a better keyboard, costs less, and can get the job done without your having to pack an extra piece of equipment.

The P7230's footprint is about the same as the U1F's, at 10.6 inches wide by 7.9 inches deep by 1.3 inches tall. Both units have super-bright LED-backlit screens. The LifeBook's 10.6-inch WXGA screen is marginally smaller than the Asus's 11.1-inch display, but Fujitsu's LED implementation is 10 percent brighter, and its keyboard is terrific (aside from requiring you to use two hands to page up or down).

Our $1899 (as of April 11, 2007) test unit came with the Windows Vista Business operating system and a 60GB hard drive. Microsoft Works 8.5, a full set of backup and recovery discs, and a nice Acrobat manual on the hard drive come standard. Considering how much case space an internal bay occupies, the tiny unit accommodates lots of ports and slots. You get two USB ports, a VGA port, a PC Card slot, a FireWire port, and basic audio ports. Network and modem jacks flank the battery on the back. A shared slot for Memory Stick, SD, and xD flash memory cards sits on the front. Wi-Fi comes standard; Bluetooth costs a little extra, as does a basic Webcam.

The Fujitsu can zip through e-mail tasks and can handle other simple jobs with aplomb. It even played our Master and Commander test DVD without a glitch. But you'll have to be patient when attempting relatively processor-intensive operations. With a 1.2-GHz Core Solo U1400 CPU and 1GB of RAM, the P7230 managed a WorldBench 6 score of 32, the lowest mark of any laptop in our roundup. The Fujitsu took 30 to 40 percent longer than the Asus U1F to complete certain operations--such as burning a DVD or applying Photoshop filters.

Its 5800-milliampere battery life is fabulous, however: 5.2 hours on one charge. And Fujitsu claims that you can double that number by adding a second battery (for $116 more) to the modular optical drive bay and using both of them at once. The bay release is an inscrutable nub situated on the bottom of the notebook; it doesn't offer much feedback, but we eventually got the hang of swapping devices.

You can achieve even longer battery life by frequently using the ECO button. According to Fujitsu, this button disables the optical disk drive, among other features, reducing component power consumption by 30 percent. Unfortunately, the small screen gets almost unusably dark in this mode.

The LifeBook P7230 is a remarkable feat of laptop engineering: extremely light despite including an optical drive, and equipped with a nice little screen and a good keyboard. It's slow, but if e-mail, light work, and online researching on the go are all you need--along with the convenience of a built-in DVD burner--look no further. The P7230 comes as close to perfect as any laptop under 3 pounds you can find.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This sub-3-pound laptop has an integrated DVD burner, a super-bright screen, and an easy-to-use keyboard.

    Pros

    • Long battery life
    • Bright backlit LED screen

    Cons

    • Difficult bay release
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