:: news + energy + technology
  Fujitsu B-Series Lifebook

Fujitsu Lifebook B Series

Richard Price
April 2001

Weighing in at only 1.39kg, this B-2178 laptop from Fujitsu is perfect for travelling executives, insurance agents or others on the road less travelled. While any size laptop will do up in the comfort of First class, this little beast is ideal for poor journalists back in Economy.

The Fujitsu's B Series is also the only notebook I have seen with user-friendly touch screen technology. You can tap on the screen with a stylus and to hell with the mouse and that stupid little nipple in the middle of the keyboard.

The touch screen is not just for navigation. It works great when editing a Word document too. It is also possible to draw directly on the screen when using a graphics program like PhotoShop. Use it in conjunction with some handwriting recognition software and last year's Palm Pilot could be history.

A USB digital camera could be attached to create a quick and convenient video conferencing system. Unfortunately not having easy access to a CD ROM drive I could not test this personally. The B-2178 does NOT have an in-built CD-ROM.

Without a CD ROM drive or access to a network installing software is always going to be a problem. However once everything is installed the B 2178 is big enough to handle anything that comes its way

These days laptops are becoming more of a fashion statement than anything else. As with all fashion it is important to accessorise correctly. Fujitsu have managed to make the B Series so small by leaving stuff out. Floppy drives and CD-ROMs are regarded as accessories and rightly so. However I was a bit disappointed to see the only accessory included with the B Series was a sleek looking USB floppy disk drive. Who uses them these days? I don't even backup to a floppy and would have preferred a CD ROM instead.

Fortunately, I managed to borrow an Iomega USB CD ROM drive from a friend. Positively huge next to the B Series, it was instantly recognised and I had no trouble installing software.

I tested Word 97 which chugs along nicely, as I am sure the latest versions will too.

As I was writing this review Mardi Gras was being celebrated around the streets of Sydney and it occurred to me that the brushed silver finish of the B Series is more reminiscent of a powder compact then a tool of commerce. Has miniaturisation tended to feminise the product? Or is this just subversive marketing targeting drag-queen dollars?

Snap open the lid and the B Series is no slouch. While there may not be room for a pony, there is enough space for an Intel® Celeron™ 500MHz processor, 128 MB SDRAM (max. 256 MB), and a 15 GB hard disk drive. There is also an integrated V.90 modem and 10/100Mbps LAN, a 10.4 " XGA TFT colour display (don't forget it is a touch screen), internal stereo speakers, 2 USB ports and infra-red support. Set up correctly the infra-red port is ideal for checking e-mail when stuck in transit at airports.

The machine comes with Windows ME or 2000 pre-installed.

The battery lasts for 2 hours, which is never long enough, but with a second battery it could be stretched to 6.

The B-2178 (sounds like a bomber doesn't it?) comes with a clip-on Connector Box making it possible to attach a PS/2 keyboard (full size) or mouse. There is also another LAN connector, a parallel port, a serial port and an external display connector for another monitor or display device. I was disappointed to see that there was no FireWire support

I connected to the Internet using the in-built modem. The computer is small enough to place next to any phone and light enough to be easily carried around so there is no excuse for missing those e-mails. Handy for someone who is always on the move.

The B-2178 slips into a neat leather-like executive folder and fits easily into a brief case or a trendy one-shoulder backback.

Price: AU$3920

The Tuesday Letter