Thursday, August 7, 2003
When a Pocket PC Just Isn't Quite Enough - I'm Buying a Fujitsu 5010D Laptop
Posted by Jason Dunn in "OFF-TOPIC" @ 08:30 AM
Games on the Go
For quite a while, I was torn between getting a laptop that had decent gaming performance (something with an ATI or nVidia chipset), or one that was built for mobility. I was looking very hard at the Voodoo Envy M:355, but the lack of an extra battery in the drive bay option turned me off that one (does the new M460 ever look amazing though!). When it came down to deciding what was important to me, small size and long battery life were at the top of the list. The appeal of the wide screen had me looking seriously at the HP NX700, but ultimately it was too big for my needs.
One of my personal pet peeves is when flying in economy class seats, how difficult it is to get any work done on my current laptop. It's always a clumsy balancing act to get anything done, so the wide-screen concept had me smitten. Imagine, actually being able to open up your laptop and get work done on a plane without uncomfortable contortions? Amazing! :roll: I also would often be on the razor's-edge of fear waiting for the person in front of me to drop their seat into recline mode, shattering my screen - I've had it come very close to happening twice, and it's a scary feeling. :|
The List Narrows...
For the longest time I was convinced the Acer 803Cli was the laptop I wanted, but I decided the size wasn't a good match with my needs. Performance-wise, it looks awesome, but it's too big for me. So I started looking around at laptops that typically fall into the "ultra-portable" category, and ones that had a wide-screen aspect ratio. The list was surprisingly short: the Sony TR1, the Fujitsu P5010, and...that's about it. Tiny wide-screen laptops are still a relatively new thing so there aren't many models to chose from.
I was tempted by the Sony claim of seven hours of battery life on a single charge, but put off by the insane $299 cost of the second battery that strapped onto the back rather than being put into the drive bay. And while I love Sony designs (next to Apple, they have the best industrial designers around), the Memory Stick slot wasn't going to benefit me at all - I don't own a single device that uses a Memory Stick. That left the Fujitsu P5010 - so was it any good? Once I started my research, this laptop shone like a star going supernova (I just finished watching an episode of Deep Space 9, forgive me for the space melodrama).
5010 Great Reasons to Buy It? Almost!
Deciding the get the Fujitsu P5010 was not a small decision for me - I might get some Pocket PC hardware and software for free, but no such luck with laptops (maybe if I launch Laptop Thoughts...). I was hoping to get a review unit from Fujitsu so I could take it for a spin and make sure it was the one I wanted (and write a review for you kind folks), but Fujitsu Canada said it would take more than a month to get me one. Occasionally with expensive items reviewers can get the item at a reduced cost (usually dubbed an "editorial discount"), but the markup on laptops are so slim it wouldn't have saved me much anyway.
To make matters even more frustrating, there wasn't a single Fujitsu reseller in Calgary who had the P5010 in stock (or really any Fujitsu laptop). I couldn't see it in person, or get any sort of idea of its size and performance without first special ordering one (which put me on the hook to buy it). This was extremely frustrating for me - I tried talking several resellers into ordering one for their stock so I could examine it before buying, but none would. There's a high-end version of the P5010 with a 60 GB hard drive and 512 MB RAM, but it's not avaialble to any of the Canadian resllers. Fujitsu might as well not have any resellers in the Calgary area with customer service like this! :evil: Fujitsu only allows online orders from within the US - they make Canadians order from local resellers instead of picking what they want online. :?
You Look Mmmmmarvelous!
A laptop is very much like a PDA - it's a mobile, personal device whose aesthetics have to appeal to you if you're going to carry it with you. Aesthetics are the primary reason why the much-trumpeted IBM X31 was scratched off my list so quickly - I really don't like they way IBM designs anything they make (no offense to you X31 owners out there). In my opinion, they have the worst industrial design in the technology industry. After reading a few reviews and seeing many pictures of the 5010, I decided it was the laptop for me. :mrgreen:
The list of technical specifications is impressive. The fact that it has slots for SD and CF is just icing - the size, weight, and battery life were my primary "lust list" items. Although the CPU is only 900 mHZ, with the 1 MB of cache, it performs closer to 1.3 Ghz when compared to other laptops. I dearly wish Fujitsu would have chosen something other than the Intel 855GM graphics chipset - the performance numbers make me wonder if I'll be able to play any game on this thing. I wish Fujitsu had a more tricked-out version of this laptop: a 5400 RPM hard drive, ATI Radeon 9200 GPU, and a faster CPU. But the more high-performance components they add, the worse the battery life performance will get, so it's easy to see why they kept performance secondary to battery life and mobility. I'll be interested to see what I think of the performance when I get my hands on it.
Even the Pro-Apple bigot Brett Larson seemed to like the Fujitsu P5010 in this TechTV video review. If the cool hardware manages to make Brett forget that it's not running the Mac OS, then it must be pretty cool indeed. ;-)
When is a Centrino Not a Centrino?
When it offers more than what Intel wants it to offer of course! There are two models of the P5010: the P5010 and the P5010D. Fujitsu makes this as clear as mud on their site, but after a lot of research, I discovered that the only difference between the P5010 and the P5010D is that the "D" offers 802.11b/g while the P5010 offers only 802.11b. Why is that? Because Intel doesn't have their official Centrino b/g part ready to go yet. Any laptop that offers anything beyond 802.11b can't be called a Centrino because it's not using Intel's wireless chipset. My hope is that I won't see any performance or battery differences by going with the "D" model. What's even stranger is that the price is basically the same on either unit. All of the reviews online that I've seen are of the P5010, not the "D", so I'm a little leary...:worried:
The Waiting Game
At the moment, I'm waiting for the laptop to come in from a local vendor. This is only the second laptop that I've ever ordered, and dropping almost 3K CND isn't something I do very often. Let's hope I made a good decision. ;-) If there's enough interest, I might do a review of the unit once I get it - but I've got so much Pocket PC hardware there would have to be a lot of interest for me to do it.
Getting One for Yourself...
If you're interested in checking our prices on the P5010, look in our Pricegrabber directory.