Review: 3 Windows 7 touch-screen laptops

New notebooks take advantage of Microsoft's touch-friendly OS

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Fujitsu LifeBook T4410

From its clean design to its down-to-earth configuration, the Fujitsu LifeBook T4410 is all about business, though it's just as good for Web browsing on a couch as it is for getting a client to sign a deal or fill out an online form. On the downside, the LifeBook is saddled with an oversized AC adapter, and it's the first notebook I've seen that has a dust filter, which requires maintenance.

Fujitsu LifeBook T4410

Fujitsu LifeBook T4410

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At 1.4 by 11.7 by 9.1 inches, the black and silver system is a little thinner and narrower than the TouchSmart tx2z. Its 4.5-pound weight matches that of the ThinkPad T400s; the LifeBook can slim down to 3.9 pounds by leaving its optical drive behind.

Its undoing, however, is its AC adapter, which is nearly double the size of those that come with the T400s and tx2z and brings its travel weight to a heftier 5.3 pounds.

As a convertible tablet, the LifeBook's lid hinge allows the screen to swivel and fold flat, although you'll need to flip a small latch to lock it in place, something you don't have to do with the tx2z. Like the tx2z, the LifeBook has a 12.1-inch screen, but this one uses a Wacom capacitive multi-touch digitizer.

The system comes with a handy pen that has a digital eraser, a nice touch that's absent on the tx2z's stylus. And regardless of whether you're using a finger or the pen, the LifeBook's multitouch action is smooth and accurate. It worked well just as well sketching something as zooming in on a Web page.

Fujitsu LifeBook T4410

Touch Launcher

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Fujitsu's Touch Launcher gives you eight large icons on the side of the screen for instant-access tapping. It works in both portrait and landscape modes and is smart enough to change its mix of apps when Internet Explorer is opened, with icons for Favorites and opening and closing tabs. In portrait mode, it does take up one-fifth of the screen, however.

The system has a cool ambient light sensor that can adjust the screen brightness to suit the environment. The sensor only works with Windows 7 and takes a few seconds to react, but as the room gets brighter so does the screen. It's also the brightest screen of the three.

Around the system's edge is a good assortment of connections, including three USB ports, an external monitor port, Ethernet, headphone and microphone ports, a FireWire port and an HDMI port for driving a large screen monitor or TV. The system includes 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi via an Intel Wi-Fi Link 5100 wireless network adaptor. There's also an ExpressCard slot and a flash card reader; the card reader only works with SD and MS modules, however.

The configuration of the $1,650 LifeBook model I tested was not all that impressive. It was powered by a T8700 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB of cache. It also came with a 160GB hard drive, 2GB of RAM and a DVD Multi drive. (The $1,199 base system is powered by an Intel T6670 2.20 GHz Core 2 Duo processor with 2MB of cache; unlike the review unit, which lets you use either a pen or a finger, the base unit only accepts pen input.)

It also has a rather strange addition -- underneath the case is a small pull-out rack that holds a foam dust filter that cleans the incoming cooling air. It's the first filter I've seen on a notebook. On the one hand, it could prevent the kind of dust buildup that can burn out a notebook years down the road; on the other, it requires cleaning or replacement every month or two, depending on how dirty the environment is.

The LifeBook rated a performance score of 775.6 and Wi-Fi range of 100 feet -- both in the middle of the three systems tested here -- but the LifeBook's 3-hour 11-minute battery life led the pack, if by only 13 minutes.

In the final analysis, despite some quirks, the Fujitsu LifeBook T4410 did a great job as a convertible tablet.

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