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Despite being around for what seems like an age, the Tablet PC format is still something of a niche product. Business users find a use for them, but consumers – not unreasonably – see the extra functionality as an expensive luxury. Another regular complaint of tablets is they can be a tad bulky, especially since by nature portability is vital function of a Tablet PC – even more so than a typical notebook.
This isn't a problem suffered by the Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook P1610, another lightweight notebook from the same range as the P7230 which I looked at recently. Indeed, though that was a small notebook the P1610 surpasses even that. It features a diminutive 8.6in screen, and weighs a mere 1.2kg with a 6-cell battery, 822 grams without one, and 1kg with a 3-cell battery, which can be purchased separately. Measuring 232 x 167 x 37mm (WxDxH) it’s by no means super thin, but the overall size is very small and can easily be carried in one hand.
As with the P7230, the P1610 has a corporate target market and this is reflected in the design. However, if anything the P1610 does a have a slightly more interesting visual impact. Whereas the P7230 was covered entirely in dull black, the inside of the P1610 sports a two-tone effect with metallic dark grey around the keyboard, a black keyboard and black bezel. This is a little more attractive than the all black approach of the P7230, though that doesn’t mean it's any less inconspicuous.
One thing that’s immediately apparent about the design is the battery, which protrudes from the front of the notebook. Although this makes the machine look a little uneven it’s a not a major problem, and creates a handy wrist wrest for typing. As a general rule this is seen when using extended butteries, but this is the 6-cell battery that ships with the machine. A smaller 3-cell battery can be purchased separately, though there’s no second battery slot as found on the P7230 so you can only have one or the other, not both.
That's because, unlike the P7230, there’s no optical drive, and as a result no space for the second battery. Given the size of this tablet this isn’t a great surprise and, as myself and others have pointed out in the past, of all the things we at TR would go without in an ultra-portable, an optical drive would be it.