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-- by Jim Forbes
On the surface, Fujitsu's LifeBook 555T appears to have all the features you'd want in a notebook. Short battery life, however, causes the LifeBook to lose its luster.
The 150MHz Pentium notebook comes standard with 16MB of RAM, 256KB of level 2 cache and a 1.3GB hard drive. A self-contained 28.8Kbps modem and 12.1-inch active-matrix color screen are icing on this cake.
It has a great software bundle, too: Lotus SmartSuite, Quicken SE, FaxWorks, FirstAid, LapLink, PC Doctor and a suite of Internet tools including AT&T WorldNet and WebEx (an off-line Web viewer)
Measuring 2.08 by 11.7 by 9.8 inches, the LifeBook is slightly larger than other notebooks.
The base weight with its 6X CD-ROM drive installed is 6.8 pounds; however, the external 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, power supply and cables increase its travel weight to 7.8 pounds.
The 86-key key-board has a 3mm throw and a nice feel. Additionally, there is an integrated palm rest. The self-contained Alps GlidePoint touchpad and its control keys are located front and center. However, the GlidePoint keys had too much slack for my taste. The location of the power, screen brightness, volume and other controls were just right-you won't have to search for them. The sound could have been better. When turned up more than halfway, the self-contained 16-bit stereo audio sounded tinny through the two integrated speakers.
The video subsystem is based on a Chips and Technology 65550 PCI video accelerator with 2MB of EDO RAM. The 12.1-inch active-matrix screen is extremely bright and comfortable to use for long periods. Presentation graphics looked great on this screen.
Despite claims by Fujitsu of a 3-hour battery life, the longest I could use the 555T unplugged was about 1.1 hours. Most sessions averaged a measly 55 minutes. If you buy this notebook, count on buying a second battery or a very long extension cord.
The 555T's scores for our Wintune and 32-bit applications benchmarks were similar to those of other notebooks. Its processor ran at an average of 270.33MIPS, while the hard disk produced 1.23MBps uncached throughput. The PCI video throughput really dazzled, cranking out 7.27Mpixels per second. The LifeBook's performance on our application macro was less stellar: Three-pass average times to execute were 27.33 and 19.33 seconds for Word and Excel, respectively. The 133MHz Dell Latitude LM P133ST on our Recommended List took just 16.67 and 15 seconds, respectively, to execute those macros.
As this is being written, Fujitsu is ready to release MMX versions of this and another notebook. Until the company provides a better battery, its LifeBook 555T will fail to please.