Pint-sized powerhouse: Fujitsu Lifebook TH550 review

Buying a small 10in notebook doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up on a big range of features. And though picking up a tiny notebook lets you throw it in your bag with ease you’re also usually lumped with carrying around a number of devices (like mobile broadband dongles) to make up for the shortfall.

This 10.1in notebook (and we use the term loosely in this instance) comes with many features typically seen in bigger models. Included in this pint-sized wonder are a swivelling touchscreen with high-quality pen input optional 3G modem multiple graphics outputs (VGA & HDMI) webcam Bluetooth and an SDHC card reader. Phew! The only thing missing is an optical drive but they’re rarely if ever seen in notebooks this size. It’s also not offensively expensive which is nice.

It does suffer from a few rather annoying design decisions however. Like a few smaller keyboards the comma full stop and forward slash/question mark keys are half size. These are keys you use in nearly every sentence you type. (Except that one.) The very clear and crisp 1366 x 768 resolution screen is a pleasure to gaze upon – unless you go outside in which case it becomes like a mirror.

For a tiny notebook/netbook it performs quite well. It sports the Intel Core i3-380UM an ultra low voltage model that’s easy on battery life. It runs at 1.33GHz so it’s not setting any speed records but it’s more than adequate for on-the-road tasks. The CPU also includes the Intel HD Graphics core which can burst up to 500MHz. Realistically it’s great for desktop use and video playback but not much else.

On the bench the TH550 scored very reasonably for this level of system; 2867 in PCMark Vantage. It was probably slowed down a little by the hard disk drive. Though roomy at 500GB capacity its 5400rpm speeds aren’t conducive to snappy performance. Battery life with Wi-Fi on and Bluetooth off was just over 4 hours.

Available from Fujitsu retailing for $1599 ($1699 with 3G).
APC rating: 7/10

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