Fujitsu u810 review

March 24th, 2008

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I love computers. While I love phones my first passion is computers. One of the best things about being the Howard in HowardForums is that I get to buy and test tons of computer equipment. Another plus of being me is that I always need to be connected. Phones are a great way to be connected to the ‘net but the best way is still using a computer. Because of this I have a soft spot for small laptops.

For the past couple of years I’ve been walking around with a Toshiba Libretto. It’s a terrific little computer that allows me to fix any problems that may arise on the site. Still, I’m always on the lookout for something better. I think I may have found it with the Fujitsu u810.

It’s got most of the features of my Libretto (the Libretto has a bigger hard drive, higher resolution display, slightly more battery life, a PC card slot, physically bigger than the u810, has CF and SD card slots) but it’s even more portable.

Oh yeah, the best thing about the u810 is its price. I paid just under $900 Canadian for the u810 compared with over 2 grand for the Libretto. $900 isn’t cheap for a laptop but it sure is considering what other similar computers cost.

First Impressions:

Here are the u810′s specs. I’m doing this off the top of my head since you can just go to Fujitsu’s website to read them:

  • 800Mhz single core Intel A110 processor (apparently it’s similar to the Pentium M processor which Intel’s Core and Core 2 Duo are based on)
  • 1GB PC4200 RAM (not upgradeable)
  • 40GB 4200RPM hard drive (smaller than an iPod Classic)
  • 100mbps/VGA out via an included dongle
  • Compact flash slot
  • SDHC card slot
  • Swiveling 5.6″ 1024×600 LCD
  • USB slot
  • Headphone/microphone jacks
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web cam

When you first pick the u810 up you can’t help but marvel at the size. Despite it’s diminutive proportions, there’s a (somewhat) proper keyboard and a twisting display. It’s a fairly solid unit because it’s so small. Here it is on top of a Macbook.

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The screen measures 5.6″ and has a decent resolution of 1024×600. While it’s not foggy or anything it’s not the clearest or brightest display out there. I suspect this is the touch screen’s fault. It’s reflective but is hard to see in the sun because it’s not bright enough.

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Despite the small size you actually get a couple of connectors and ports. Starting from the left side you get; wireless on/off switch, SD card slot (my 4gb SDHC worked fine in it), volume rocker switch, headphone out, microphone out.

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In front there is a lone connector for the network cable/VGA dongle.

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The right side has a Compact Flash slot (16GB CF card worked fine), a power switch and a USB port that’s hidden behind a cover.

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The keyboard is tiny – unless you have really small hands forget about typing like you would on a regular keyboard. I actually have pretty small hands and can touch type on the u810 (barely) but found cradling the u810 with my fingers and typing with my thumbs to be the best arrangement. If you have a flat surface you can hunt and peck.

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There are LEDs right above the keyboard that you can use when it’s dark. I found that they weren’t positioned in the right place/aren’t bright enough to be useful. You turn them on using the left button below the center of the display.

There are a couple of other horrible things about the keyboard; the direction keys, tab and page up/down, ‘f’ keys are all accessed via function button. I dunno if I’ll ever get used to this arrangement but sacrifices have to be made when the keyboard is so small.

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There is a small joystick on the right by the screen while the left and right mouse buttons are on the left side. If you don’t want to use the pointing device, there’s a stylus located on the top right of the screen.

If you open the screen to 90 degrees, you can flip it around and use the u810 in tablet mode. I’m not crazy about tablet PC’s and used the u810 as a conventional laptop.

When the u810 is in tablet mode, you can still access the joystick, mouse buttons, up/down keys, function button, 2 special buttons and a screen rotation buttons.

The battery that comes with the u810 sticks out the back. I actually like how it sticks out because it gives you something to hold onto which is important given the u810′s size. It’s especially useful if you’re using it as a tablet. Battery life is a decent 3 to 4 hours on a full charge. Trust me, you don’t want to use the u810 any longer than that.

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When you use the u810 for long periods of time, it gets warm but it’s never blazing hot – which is impressive given it’s small size. There’s microsuede on the bottom to keep it (I presume) cooler to the touch.

There’s a 65 watt power supply. It’s the same size as the one that comes with many other smaller, lower power laptops (like the Sony TZ series, Lenovo Thinkpad R series, Toshiba Libretto).

While Fujitsu includes a couple of extra programs with the u810, they didn’t load it up with crapware. The two most notable Fujitsu specific things they include are Fujitsu menu and a driver update utility. The menu program is really a sort of quick launch for when you’re in tablet mode. You can access it by pressing the function menu between the up/down buttons. It launched such things as a sound menu, LCD brightness, enable bluetooth, that sort of thing. You can add your own shortcuts to it.

There’s a finger print reader on the right side of the screen. You get Omnipass which is software that can log you into Windows and memorize website passwords. Omnipass is mildly useful – it has two drawbacks; Firstly, if you want to use it to enter your Windows password you’ll have to wait an extra 10 seconds for the Omnipass dialog to load when the Windows login screen shows up. Secondly it only seems to work with Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Performance:

Performance is horrible. There are two problems with the u810, it has a really slow processor and a slower hard drive. There isn’t much RAM either but I’d say it’s enough to do basic tasks such as checking email and surfing the web. If you want to do more, the u810′s RAM is not user upgradeable – go buy a bigger laptop with a bigger keyboard and more RAM if you want to do more.

The u810 has a 40GB 4200rpm hard disk that takes forever to do anything. It only has 1GB of RAM which is barely enough to run Windows Vista.

When I first got the u810 I thought it would make a brilliant digital photographer’s tool because it’s small and has both SD and CF card slots. Unfortunately both slots are so slow they’re pretty much for show IMO. It takes forever to read/write to the cards which makes them virtually useless. They’re so slow I wouldn’t even bother using them for listening to music/watching video. Another problem is that the CPU maxes out when you’re using them.

There’s a saying; small speakers, small sound. The u810 has a tiny speaker. Let’s just leave it at that.

I was going to benchmark the u810 but to be honest, I thought the u810 was so slow there’s no point to it. Every time I pick it up, I end up watching the hard drive LED blink non stop for what seems an eternity. If something is so slow that it affects its usage what is a benchmark going to tell you? Like I said before, the u810 really needs a faster hard drive, followed by more RAM and then a faster or dual core CPU.

Conclusion:

I struggle when it comes to figuring out if I love or hate the u810. It can handle basic tasks of surfing the web, checking email, SSH, VPN/Remote Desktop but it does the other tasks so incredibly slowly. Tasks such as starting up, virus scanning, opening programs, etc. The horrible performance is balanced by it’s amazing portability. But the amazing portability is balanced by a keyboard which requires you to use the function key to access many important features (tab, up/down/left/right, etc). One thing is undeniable though, the u810 attracts a crowd where ever it makes an appearance. Most guys think it’s cool and most girl’s think it’s cute, everyone’s amazed at the price.

Before I got the u810, I really really wanted to love it. But in the end I’m speechless. I guess I’ll be keeping my Libretto a little longer.

Howard Chui
03.23.2008

Entry Filed under: Computers

2 Comments Add your own

    jfj1723  |  May 1st, 2008 at 11:35 am

    1. don’t use Vista…
    2. We are using these at the office. Feild data is entered in though e-speaking software.
    3. it runs fine and is very durable.
    4. It replaces palm pilots, for our crew and can be seen in full sunlight.
    5. We also use ASUS Eee PC’s…
    We are very pleased with the speed. It works great for basic office functions. Just don’t cripple the machine with Vista. XP tablet works fine.

    Harris  |  June 20th, 2008 at 2:06 am

    I use this UMPC in Hong Kong (U1010) and I think the Vista Home Premium that come with will be much faster if you do the following:

    1. Merge 20/20G partition into 40G single partition.
    2. Upgrade to Vista SP1
    3. Disable the Windows Search Service.
    4. Disable the Indexing on the disk.
    5. Disable the some Visual effect (e.g. Transparent effect)
    6. Update your Video driver to V7.14.10.1461R or higher for U810 (only available to download at Fujitsu USA support site: http://support.fujitsupc.com/CS/Portal/support.do?srch=DOWNLOADS), I found after I apply this driver, the video performance become much faster, you can feel this when you use the Microsoft Origami Experience 2.0, Media Center and play movie.

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