A 12in touchscreen convertible, does the latest Lifebook do enough to see off the sudden influx of true tablets?
Just in case you were under the impression that the 7-10in slate was the only type of tablet in town, Fujitsu's Lifebook T730 arrives to remind us that until the arrival of the iPad, a convertible laptop was the more favoured form factor for a touchscreen portable.
Can it survive the fresh onslaught from the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Asus's Eee Tablet, Viewsonic's V7 et al? Let's have a look at the latest swivel-screened 12-incher to find out.
Big, but unweidly
It's not a promising start. The screen size may be more comfortable than a Galaxy Tab, but with a resolution of just 1280x800 and the visible gridlines of the dual digitisers (necessary for pen and finger operation) it's not especially sharp or bright. If you want a thin and light notebook you're better off with a larger, lighter, cheaper 13-incher like the Acer Timeline X.
Take that route and you’ll benefit from the extra pixels, larger screen space and, while it doesn't have a touchscreen, the Timeline X does have a much larger and more usable mousepad than the strangely cramped example on the Lifebook.
The Lifebook T730 is heavy. Weighing around 2.3kg with the basic 5200mAh battery, you could pack both the Asus UL30A and a Samsung Galaxy Tab in your bag for the same amount of strain on your shoulder (and pain to your credit card).
You'll also get a longer battery life from both of those. Even with every power-saving option enabled, the T730 runs for less than four hours on a single charge.
Against modern tablet and ultralight designs, the Lifebook T730 feels dated and highlights the shortcomings rather than the advantages of either style. There's no accelerometer to detect screen rotation when using it as a tablet, for example, and the hinge isn't supportive enough to keep the screen still while typing.
The pitfalls of compromise are especially true in the operating system: Windows 7, that ultimate jack-of-all-trades, looks increasingly creaky compared to Android and iOS. The Start menu and icons aren't finger friendly, and the onscreen keyboard often disappears halfway through a sentence. It may be able to multitask properly, but boy is it slow to boot up and get going in the morning.
For a business user, there's some merit in the T730: it's exceptionally well connected with 3G, GPS, Wireless N and plenty of internal and external antennas to hold a strong signal. Plus, there are plenty of tablet apps for corporates that would work well here.
For anyone else, though, going back to a convertible after playing with new tablets just shows exactly where Microsoft went wrong with its original Tablet PC concept a decade ago. Keep the keyboard or ditch it, don't mess with something in between.
Fujitsu Lifebook T730 review
Heavy for a 12in notebook and not as fast as a tablet, the Lifebook T730 no longer makes the case for a convertible
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