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Ask anyone in the TR office and you'll probably find that we all like our notebooks as small as possible. Sure, a desktop replacement has its uses, as does a gaming notebook or a media notebook but as our activities often take us out of the office the smaller the notebook, the better. Thus the Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook P7230 is certainly of interest, with the 10.6in display and 1.37kg weight putting it squarely in the ultra-portable bracket. Even more attractive is the internal HSDPA module which, along with the ubiquitous 802.11a/b/g wireless, gives the P7230 as much wireless connectivity as you're ever likely to need short of strapping your own personal satellite to your back.
For around £1300 you get a notebook powered by the ultra-low voltage Intel U1400 Core Solo running at 1.20GHz, which has 2MB L2 Cache and a 533MHz Front Side Bus. There's also 1GB of DRR2-533MHz RAM, a 60GB PATA 4200rpm hard drive, internal Super-Multi DVD Writer drive and Intel 945GMS graphics, which can just about handle the Aero interface of Vista Business Edition. Overall this makes it very comparable to the Samsung Q40 which Riyad looked at recently, sharing as it does the same processor, similar features and a focus on portability over raw performance.
One thing the P7230 has over the Samsung, however, is the internal optical drive. The importance of an optical drive in ultra-portables is something of a moot point. Other ultra-portables, such as the Asus U1F, have gone down the no optical drive route but the Sony VAIO TZ1MN does have one, as will Toshiba's Portégé R500. In any case, the inclusion of an optical drive is positive, though by no means a definitive reason to choose this over any other model.
But here the P7230 does have another trick up its sleeve, because the optical drive is modular and can be removed in favour of a second battery for increased battery performance. Regrettably the second battery is sold separately, but it’s a great option for the mobile professional who needs extended battery life more than an optical drive.
Even without the second battery though, battery performance is very good. When using the notebook with wireless enabled and the screen at around 70 per cent brightness, the P7230 managed five hours while performing word processing and Internet browsing tasks. This is an impressive figure, and by reducing the screen brightness and disabling the wireless you could probably get a fair bit more.