There are two PC Card slots situated one above the other towards the front of the left side of the casing, and towards the back on this side sit microphone and headphone jacks. The right side of the casing houses the modem jack and power switch. On the back are twin USB ports, the Ethernet jack, a VGA out connector, mains power jack, infrared port and an on/off switch for the WLAN. If you want to attach legacy hardware you need to resort to a port replicator. Also, you’ll have noted from this tour that there are neither optical or floppy drives built in. If you need a floppy drive an additional purchase is necessary, but you do get a Freecom Traveller II Combo DVD/CD-RW drive bundled. Obviously carrying it around will add to the overall weight and the amount of bag space required.
As is the standard practice the display will flip automatically to portrait mode when you swivel it for use Tablet style, but you can force it into the orientation you require by using a button which toggles between landscape and portrait modes. This sits beneath the screen on its bottom right corner, and is flanked by application shortcut buttons and a ‘Ctrl-alt-delete’ surrogate for use when you don’t have access to the keyboard.
Regardless of whether you are looking for a Tablet style or a more standard notebook, performance is going to be a key factor in your purchasing decision. In the case of the LifeBook T 3010 Tablet PC, performance in Tablet mode counts for a lot, of course.
When using the machine in Tablet mode there are two real options: prop it in the crook of one arm as if it were a clip-board, or lay it flat on the table. In the latter case we tend to bend over as we would over a sheet of paper, which in a meeting situation might not be the most proactive position to take. In the former case, we found this Tablet a little heavy for prolonged holding. These are generic Tablet PC issues rather than being specific to this machine, but they are among the reasons why we think Tablet has failed to find strong support in the market place and why we feel this one may not do exceptionally well, either. It’s not that this machine has any particular failings within the genre, rather that there are issues with the genre itself.
On the other hand, generic plus points for the Tablet format include the fact that the handwriting recognition built into the operating system is superb and pretty fast. And the ability to draw diagrams to map out thoughts is a real boon to some types of user.
Where the LifeBook T 3010 is concerned, lack of Bluetooth is a bind, as is the absence of a built in optical drive. It’s nice to get one bundled, but you still have to carry it around. The hardware styling is clean and efficient and has a certain panache. Benchmark scores didn’t set the world alight but were fair. Battery life in particular, a tantalizing one minute under four hours, was pretty strong, though I couldn’t get MobileMark to run fully despite trying it on two different machines.
Fujitsu Siemens has drawn together a fair range of components in the LifeBook T 3010. The hard drive is large, and built in WLAN will be a boon in many work and home situations. I remain unconvinced that Tablet PCs actually have a place in the world, but as implementations of the format go, this one is perfectly usable.