by Joey Latimer
Laptops are ideal when work must be finished while far from a desk. Often this means working on a train, plane, or taxi. Carrying a laptop that is too big and heavy for a tray table means stowing it in an overhead compartment and losing valuable work time. The Fujitsu LifeBook S Series is an ultra-mobile laptop small enough to use in a crowded plane or train, but powerful enough to pound out serious work.
We tested two S Series (S-4542) units: One with 128MB RAM and a 12GB hard drive and the other with 64MB RAM and a 6GB hard drive. Both computers came equipped with a 600MHz low-voltage Intel Pentium II CPU, built-in 56K V90 modem, an Ethernet networking card, and a lightweight port replicator. Windows 98 Second Edition and Microsoft Works Version 5 came pre-installed on each, along with Adobe Acrobat Reader, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Communicator, and McCafee Active (Virus) Shield.
Hooking up the LifeBook and getting to work is a snap, since all the software and hardware comes pre-installed. All we had to do was complete the Windows registration and we were flying. We noticed right away that the LifeBook is much zippier than Pentium II laptops we’ve tested. We were also impressed by the slim, light (under 4 pounds) design for fitting easily in a backpack or briefcase. The keyboard, though not as responsive as a desktop’s, had a crisp feel and worked better than most laptops we’ve tried.
The S Series features one of the most elegant port replicators we’ve seen. The laptop clamps onto its slim (approximately 10″ x 2″) design in a few seconds and includes Ethernet, mouse, keyboard, USB, VGA, parallel, serial, infrared, modem, and power supply ports that can remain connected to peripherals in the office.
Our main complaint about the LifeBook is the 12.1″ TFT display, which was a little on the dark side when we were in well-lit rooms. We adjusted the screen settings to make it brighter, but periodically — for no apparent reason — the screen settings would return to the default. We also preferred the 128MB model over the 64MB version when we worked with multiple programs, and adored watching movies using the DVD drive (which also reads standard audio CDs and CD-ROMs.) The LifeBook S Series is light, fast, docks easily, and comes ready to roll. All you need is a business trip and plenty of work to do.