REVIEW: Fujitsu LifeBook S760

Fujtisu’s LifeBook S760 is pitched as a laptop offering great functionality. It isn’t inexpensive, with starting prices at around £900 (ex. VAT). For that kind of money you are likely to be looking for a laptop which will provide mid-ranking business executives with a good mix of functionality, portability and style for a couple of years. At this business level, the right equipment can deliver the impression of no-nonsense professionalism that is important to clients, as well as allowing efficient working. Does the LifeBook S760 deliver?

What is it and who is it for?

Fujitsu’s LifeBook S760 is a laptop designed to travel comfortably and securely in your business bag. Lid and base section are held together with a good quality clasp, the laptop is relatively light with a starting weight of 1.6kg. And at 314 x 222 x 30.5mm, it’s small enough to fit into most bags.

The base section is tough and solid for everyday usage. Interestingly, Fujitsu offers two options for the lid. You can opt for a magnesium lid section which is thin and light but exhibits a bit of flex, or choose a slightly thicker, sturdier but heavier lid section made of compound materials. Either way carrying this laptop between business meetings shouldn’t be too much of a trial.

Does it do it well?

The LifeBook S760 sports a quirky touchpad design. The usual rectangular touchpad with built in scroll-zones is augmented by a secondary round touchpad sitting to its right which is for scrolling. You make circular motions on it with a finger, clockwise to scroll down, anticlockwise to scroll up. It is an interesting idea, and we acclimatised to it very quickly. Whether or not it will make you look weird in business meetings is moot. Fujitsu calls it the ScrollWheel, by the way.

Laptops with glossy screens can be a bane for the mobile professional as they reflect glare from the sun making working outside or on a train difficult. The LifeBook S760 has no such problems. The matte antiglare display was perfectly visible as sunlight streamed in a window by our side.

However, the 13.3-inch screen might present problems for some. Its 1366 x 768-pixel resolution is par for the course for this screen size, but simply may not be enough for some professionals. If you regularly need two documents opened at once, work on large and complex spreadsheets, or need to give presentations to clients from your laptop, a larger screen with more pixels will suit you better.

With 64-bit Windows 7 Professional on board, the LifeBook S760 can see as much RAM as you care to put into it, up to the maximum of 8GB. This, along with Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processors and a 160GB 2.5” hard disk drive means it is a very capable machine which should be able to meet pretty much any task the mobile professional cares to throw at it. Typically, the LifeBook S760 has Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n), Bluetooth and Gigabit Ethernet, but extends communications with a Sierra Wireless Gobi 2000 3G modem supporting speeds up to 7.2Mbit/s over a cellular data connection.

Connectivity is good comprising VGA and HDMI video out ports, three USB 2.0 ports, and an ExpressCard/54 slot for add-in cards. An optional docking port replicator (£91 ex. VAT) provides a second mains adapter, four USB ports, an eSata port, printer and serial ports, VGA and DVI video outputs, and an Ethernet port.

Noticeable business features include support for Intel’s Active Management Technology, a trusted platform module for security, the ability to swap the optical drive for a second battery, and BIOS support for Absolute Software’s Computrace theft protection service which can remotely disable a missing or stolen system.

An apparently small but important plus point is that this laptop will charge USB devices even when it is not switched on. For businesspeople that spend a fair amount of time travelling, this can reduce the amount of hardware you need to carry by way of additional mains power chargers for phones and such like. Fujitsu offers a 2-year warranty on this laptop.

Where does it disappoint?

A Web camera sitting above the screen is ideally located for video conferencing, and the laptop incorporates support for mobile broadband with the SIM slot tucked away underneath the battery.

This is all good news for the business person who spends a lot of time out of the office, but Fujitsu’s bundled Web camera software is not ideal for the professional. It looks consumer-grade with its animations and distortion effects, the ability to draw onto images, and huge range of fun avatars.

If you can live with this, the ability it offers to upload to YouTube and send captured stills and video straight to e-mail might be useful. You can use the camera for video surveillance, but sadly it does not incorporate features like automatic zooming and face tracking. It is a mixed bag for the professional user, then.

If you want to deliver presentations to clients direct from your laptop, you may want to look elsewhere. The small screen is not ideal in this respect, and the speakers don’t have very high volume.

Battery life is crucial in a laptop designed to be used by businesspeople on the move. Fujitsu suggests you can get up to 12 hours from the LifeBook S760, but to approach that you’ll need to use two batteries—the second one goes into a modular bay which is initially occupied by the DVD-RW drive. With just the main battery the suggested life is 8 hours.

There is an Eco mode which automatically turns off unused components and reduces screen brightness to help you achieve long battery life. This may sound enticing, but we found that in everyday use battery life was good but not great. The LifeBook S760 played a movie from DVD for a little more than 3 hours from a full battery, and you’ll struggle to get more than 5 or 6 hours of real-life working from it.

Would we recommend it?

Fujitsu’s LifeBook S760 is a very nice looking, well-built laptop with some high-end specifications and good features for the regular traveller. Its spill resistant keyboard is a pleasure to use, and the quirky ScrollWheel is a ‘take it or leave it’ feature which you can simply ignore if it does not feel right to you. It may, though prove a useful ice-breaker in some client meetings. And you might not want to use the Web camera software in view of clients, unless you have preconfigured it to remove some of the more consumer-focussed elements.

Overall, the LifeBook S760 is good option for the business traveller. It delivers a respectable amount of processing power into a highly portable package and has good connectivity and expansion options. The only practical downside is power consumption when running on batteries. [7]