I finally got sick of lugging around my old laptop (Dell Inspiron 8600). Don’t get me wrong, it still is a great machine. The reason I bought it was for the massive 15.4 inch screen packing 1920×1200 pixels. I have very good eyesight and I could have three documents open side by side (e.g. two word docs and a visio or powerpoint file). But after a while, I got sick of its 3.5kg weight. My computer bag regularly weighed 7 – 9kgs after a few notepads, powerpack, mouse, iPod, etc.
I’d been doing some shopping around for a new sub notebook / UMPC. I seriously considered the new Samsung Q1Ultra, but finally settled on the Fujitsu P1610. If you’re in the market for a sub-notebook / TabletPC, I strongly recommend taking one for a test drive. Read on for the strengths and weaknesses.
(Images borrowed from http://www.fujitsu.com/sg/services/computing/pc/products/notebook/p1610/gallery.html)
Here are its strengths for me:
- Weight – 1kg (28% of my old laptop)
- 8.9 inch bright screen with a resolution of 1280×768 pixels
- 80GB hard drive
- Keyboard (it is 3/4 size and the Samsung UMPC has a tiny keyboard)
- CPU is an Intel Core Solo at 1.2GHz (apparently equivalent to an older 1.6GHz Centrino) is great for the size. of Tablet PC. It can play back high bit rate MPEG4 videos without chopping
- Vista and Office 2007 work at acceptable speeds
- Battery life is good at around 2.5 – 3 hours
- The tablet PC and handwriting recognition is excellent in Vista
- I can comfortable hold the Tablet PC in one hand and write on it with the other. It’s like holding a larger paperback book. In contrast, the bigger 2kg / 12inch screen models are just too heavy to do this
- Fingerprint scanner for login
- The bidirectional screen rotation reduces risk of damage
- It has a touch screen (compared to a digitizer on other brands and models), meaning that I can use my finger as a mouse, not just a special pen
- The screen is very clear compared to digitizer based tablets that have a grainy effect.
As with everything, there are weaknesses:
- There is no webcam for video /skype
- No hot swappable battery. I bought an extra 6-cell battery (about 6 hours) so I can use it for a whole day and not bring a power pack, but you need to fully shut down to swap over.
- SD card slot is not Vista readyboost compliant. It apparently uses a slower interface so cannot read and write as fast as the actual card can handle.
- The P1610 does quite a bit of disk thrashing (apparently a known issue for UMPCs)
- There is no trackpad, only a track point. The battery makes up some of the front part of the unit (palm rest), rather than having it sit under an extended palm rest where a trackpad could go
- The pen is fine, but feels a bit cheap
- As I mentioned earlier, the screen resolution is 1280×768. should have been 1280×800 and would therefore meet minimum website standard of 800×600 when in portrait mode (the fewer pixels means some chance of vertical scrolling)
- There should be two slots for for memory, or a standard SO-DIMM instead of the Micro-DIMM (i.e. for a total of 2GB RAM). Vista really needs 2GB to work well. (Edit: This was addressed by installing a 2GB module from the 1620/1630)
- I had to disable part of the trackpoint’s operation because I kept tapping it while typing meaning the I kept typing in the wrong area.
Despite these minor issues, it’s an excellent notebook. You wouldn’t want to use it as an everyday machine. My former Dell was a desktop replacement and I used it at work and home. Now I have a desktop at work and at home and use the P1610 while on the road – and just while on the road.
I can’t wait to see what the next version will be like!