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Over time we've become accustomed to seeing Fujitsu-Siemens focussing squarely on the corporate market, and the P7230 does nothing to change this. It has a strictly low key design, finished in dull corporate black all round. There's little in the way of eye catching touches, just functional design and solid construction. Measuring 272.9 x 200.9 x 29.9mm (WxDxH), the P7230 is slightly chunkier than the Q40 and other ultra-portables, but has an appreciably smaller footprint thanks to the 10.6in screen.
This is also a source of complaint, however, because at 10.6in corner to corner, and with a 1,280 x 768 native resolution, this screen is really very small. Even the Sony TZ1MN had a larger 11.1in screen, while the Q40 has a 12.1in screen, and neither of those would be considered large. This just seems to be a little too small for comfortable everyday use, and over time you’ll certainly miss having even an inch or two more.
On the flip side, Fujitsu-Siemens claims this makes the P7230 perfect for using in cramped travelling environments such as on trains and planes. There’s some merit to this argument, but ultimately just a few more screen inches would make it far more pleasurable to use without disrupting its portability too much. Moreover, the P7230 actually has quite a thick bezel so it’s not as if Fujitsu-Siemens is utilising all the space available.
Quality wise the display is also something of a mixed bag. Being LED backlit it’s certainly bright enough, and the size relative to the resolution means it’s sufficiently sharp, but it has a rather mottled, almost pixelated look, it struggles with colour gradients and has a slightly yellowish white level. It also has a glossy finish, which makes it susceptible to reflections in high light environments and produces poor viewing angles. This is a shame, since the LED backlight, glossy screen in the Sony TZ1MN suffered from no such issues. All this probably makes it sound worse than it is, it’s still a perfectly usable display, just don’t expect amazing colour accuracy or contrast.
The screen also suffers from light bleed particularly at the bottom, but also from the top. This is an issue that Sony had when it first implemented LED backlight screen technology, with the VAIO TX1XP having significant light bleed issues. Thankfully this was resolved on future TX series products, so I would hope that Fujitsu-Siemens will be able to do the same on the next P Series machine.
Happily other aspects of the P7230 are far more pleasing. The keyboard, for example, is particularly praiseworthy sporting a layout that makes a mockery of larger notebooks - such as the Evesham Zieo - that manage to make a mess of things despite having acres of space with which to work.
For starters the left Ctrl key is in the correct place, on the far left and to the left of the Fn key. There's a proper UK style Return key, and a large Right Shift key with slightly offset cursor keys just below it, which also double up as PgUp, PgDn, Home and End keys via the Fn key. The keys themselves are crisp and even, providing a positive feedback when pressed. Overall it’s a great notebook keyboard, and will garner few complaints.
There are also plenty of other attractive features, such as a fingerprint reader which is located between the two touchpad buttons and a 1.3-megapixel camera which is built into the bezel just above the screen. This is flanked by two Microphones, and this enables VoIP and video conference calling out of the box. To add further to the corporate attractiveness, there's also a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) which provides added data security in the event of theft.