If last year's laptop sales charts were dominated by the rise of the netbook, this summer's silicon style supremos are all focussed on super-slim laptops that don't compromise on processor power.

Helped by a new generation of fast, low-voltage processors from Intel that require little cooling and extend battery life by several hours, nearly every major manufacturer is tapping into the trend for smaller, lighter machines that don't succumb to the netbook vices of cheap construction values and slow CPUs.

So far this month we've already seen MSI's single-core X-Slim X340 and Samsung's superlative X360 cement the trend. The latest to cross our desks is the Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook P8020, another highly featured notebook that barely manages to register on the scales.

Disc drive included

The P8020 is ridiculously close in size and specification to the Samsung X360. In terms of top-down dimensions, the smaller screen means that it's narrower and even smaller than the Samsung, but it makes up for the lost volume by being taller. The extra height is to accommodate a built-in DVD-RW drive – a luxury many thin-and-lights have to forgo.

While the screen is only 12.1in, it is reasonably good quality. The colour accuracy isn't the best, but despite a glass coating it's easily visible outside.

There's no HDMI-out on the Lifebook, but it does rack up an impressive amount of other inputs, like Firewire and ExpressSlot, to create one of the best-connected super-slims around. It even has built-in 3G, which is fast becoming an essential.

To top it off, the CPU is 200MHz faster than the one in the X360. It's not going to give a MacBook a run for its money, but every little helps.

Cramped keyboard

The squatter design of the Fujistu makes it feel a little more business oriented than the competition, and squeezes the keyboard into a very unusual narrow layout reminiscent of an 9in EeePC.

The hard drive is small, too, considering it's not a solid state model, and the battery life is a long way behind the Samsung at around five hours. That could be down to the mobile broadband, though.

The killer blow to the Fujitsu's fortunes is the price. It's a lot more expensive than similar, better-designed machines. Unless you really need the extra features the Lifebook offers, if you're looking for a sexy little number for summer we'd recommend the Samsung X360 or a MacBook Air.


Stuff says... 

Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook P8020 review

Good, but not the best-looking ultralight and expensive compared with the competition

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