The Fujitsu Lifebook E781 is configurable in a range of options costing from $1100 to $1800. The unit reviewed here is the E781-MPCN2DE and costs $1400. At that price it’s a fairly well-specced business machine – matte 15.6-inch display, excellent port selection, modular slot and an all-important UMTS module for the ultimate in global connectivity.
The design of the Lifebook E781 is purposeful and unadorned – the plain design of the case will sit well in any corporate environment, a modest combination of matte black and silver. The lid is constructed from resilient magnesium, and has a premium feel to it, while the sturdy hinges add to the overall robustness of the E781 – completely teeter-free. The hinges provide for an opening angle of 180 degrees, perfect vbersatility. The optical drive is swappable, allowing for a second battery or additional hard disk to be inserted in its place.
The Fujitsu Lifebook E781 notebook weighs a mere 2.5 kg, so although it’s not ideal for carrying around in rucsack all day, it’s pretty portable. The power adaptor, which Fujitsu expects you to be carrying with it, adds just 300 grams to the package. Dimensions are otherwise normal for a 15.6-inch business notebook – 372mm x 245mm x 35mm, actually a sturdy looking machine rather than a slimline model.
Port selection is first-rate, with a 56K modem interface and a trio of USB-2 ports, a crucial USB-3 socket, eSATA interface, VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors. Syncing via DVI or HDMI requires an external adaptor (not included). Then there’s a SmartCard reader and ExpressCard slot, useful for adding a TV card or extra ports. Not forgetting the pair of audio jacks on the front edge of the E781. On the underside of the Fujitsu Lifebook E781 is a docking interface. A switch on the front edge, next to the audio jacks, enables users to switch the various communication modules on or off. The latest Centrino WiFi-n module lets the Lifebook E781 operate at either 2.4GHz or 5Ghz frequencies. That means users can swap out of the high-trafficked 2.4GHz bandwidth for a faster, less congested 5GHz conn. There’s Bluetooth 3 for syncing with smartphones and other external devices, and the UMTS module will give users secure internet connectivity on the move. Of course, ‘external UMTS modules’ ie USB-stick solutions are possible, but can be cumbersome and drain the battery more quickly.
The fingerprint scanner puts the Fujitsu Lifebook E781 firmly in the ranks of well-featured business machine and a quick access key lets users lock the Windows OS. Another premium feature is the inclusion of recovery disks for restoring the laptop to unmolested factory settings.
Other options incluide a Blu-ray drive for a $140 surcharge. Business-friendly warranty extensions are available to extend the standard 36 months.
The keyboard is quite large, with not only a dedicated numberpad but also full-sized cursor keys. Feedback seemed slightly spongey however, so frequent typers should to make this their main machine, unless they are proficient with other spongey-keyed input devices.
Quick access keys are also handy – a single click to log out of Windows, disable wireless modules, and so on. No backlighting, sadly.
The Synaptics touchpad is textured for added accuracy and supports multitouch gestures well. Precise technique is necessary considering the limited size of the 6.5cm x 4.5cm surface. A touch stick is also included, allowing for rapid navigation around the OS or web pages, and added usefulness is conferred by the incorporation of a left mouse button in the stick. The matte 1600 x 900 pixel display can be up- or downgraded to ful HD 1920 x 1080p or 1366 x 768p respectively, but the stamdard 1600 x 900 panel gives good brightness at 246 nits and a stunning 580:1 contrast ratio – those deep blacks (0.39) are to blame. Viewing angles are similarly excellent.
The Fujitsu Lifebook E781 sports a dualcore Intel i5-2430M CPU, as found in a bunch of other business notebooks. It’s hyper-threaded, giving a total of four execution threads.
Fujitsu will configure the Lifebook E781 with any of 8 different chips – all dual-core CPUs. The test model’s processor is in the lower third of those, clocked at 2.4GHz boostable to 2.7GHz across both cores. The 4GB RAM is upgradeable to 8GB. Performance is on a par with other notebooks featuring these internals, and SSD options up to 128GB can help boost capabilitiliy. This model packs a 7200rpm 500GB Toshiba HDD, and antishock protection is also included. The modular slot is useful for anyone wanting to speed things up with an SSD, and although everyday use is easy work for the Lifebook E781, heavy graphical software or current games are hampered by the HD3000 integrated graphics, equal only to entry-level dedicated cards. Even so demanding modern titles such as Anno 2070 are playable at low settings.
Volume through the built-in speakers is good but sound quality mediocre. Battery life under medium use gives 4 to 5 hours, and four hours of DVD-looping – commendable.
The Fujitsu Lifebook E781 is capable, good-looking, and offers connectivity options second to none at its price point. With an Ivy Bridge upgrade for 30% more graphical grunt, that 36-month guarantee will make this a no-brainer.
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