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Last Notebook Standing

So, out of my candidates, it came down to the Fujitsu S2020, which by coincidence turned out to be what my colleague Harald Thon over at TomsHardware suggested when I first started looking for a new notebook. Harald does most of the notebook reviews at Toms and had told me that he'd tried the P7010 and come to the same conclusion as I had - nice machine, but too small for comfortable work. He found that his S2020, though, was comfortable to work on and had held up well in all his travels.

The real deal-sealer came, however, when I started researching prices using Pricegrabber (my favorite shopping tool) and found a stripped configuration of the S2020 for only $700 on Zones! (Don't bother checking, they're long gone!) Although it was only a 256MB / 30GB configuration with CDROM and no built-in wireless (FPCM40951), heck, for that price I could spend a little more and do any upgrading myself.

I was able to get my S2020 in time for my trek to the CES2005 show and gave it a real-world initiation. I'm generally pleased with my purchase (especially for what I paid), but have the following reflections to report.

Since the S2020 has a swap-bay, I purchased the battery that fits into it direct from Fujitsu. I'm glad I spent the $125 on the battery, since it expanded my outlet-less time to somewhere between 5 and 6 hours (no wireless, screen turned low), which came in handy for writing my report at the airport and on the plane home. But I wish the S2020's design were like my Inspiron 4100, whose dual swap-bay design can hold two of the same flavor battery.

Travel weight turned out to be fine, even with the second battery, power brick and CDROM toted along. I found I could leave the second battery in my hotel room during my days at the show, since the Press room had outlets available at all workstations. I do wish that Fujitsu included a travel sleeve with the bay battery, which could protect either it or the CDROM from harm in my computer bag.

The main annoyances are the S2020's internal fan and those darned undersized period, backslash and right-hand shift keys. I found I had to ferret out erroneous commas and periods frequently - which I found harder than I expected to do given the relatively thin Courier font that I favor for writing.

The fan is really noisy and briefly spins up full-blast to announce each boot and wake from sleep mode. I found it also ran more than I expected it would, especially since I didn't think that my web browsing, email reading and writing with Dreamweaver was that processor intensive!

My other annoyance is that the power brick has no power light and the only charge indicator is on an LCD screen that you must open the notebook screen to see. I found this a real pain when trying to do some quick airport power top-ups and found out the hard way that some airports are pretty stingy with power!

But I (and especially my back) are generally pleased with the purchase and look forward to many happy travel hours until it's time to do this little exercise over again. In the meantime, if you happen to run across one of these without built-in wireless, don't believe Fujitsu when they tell you it can't be field upgraded (that was the official response to my query to Fujitsu Tech Support). With a little help from Google, I was able to do it myself. But I'll save the description of that little project for another time.

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