Fujitsu Lifebook E743 review

Fujitsu Lifebook E743 with projector

Fujitsu's Lifebook E743 may lack the glamour of an ultrabook, but it is a well-designed business portable that is sturdy and offers decent performance, plus the unique ability to fit an optional projector module for giving presentations.
Built to last, good connectivity, good expansion options including Bay Projector module
Relatively bulky compared with ultrabooks, Intel vPro only on select models
Overall Rating:
4 Star Rating: Recommended
Price: £863 + VAT (as reviewed)
Manufacturer: Fujitsu
Model: Lifebook E743
Display: 14in, 1600x900
Processor: Intel 2.6GHz Core i5-3230M dual-core
RAM: 4GB (max 16GB)
Storage: 500GB
Wireless connections: 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth, optional 3G/4G mobile broadband
Ports: Ethernet, 3xUSB 3.0, USB 2.0, DisplayPort, VGA, SD Card reader slot, microphone and headphone, smartcard slot
Camera: 2.1MP webcam
Dimensions: 33.8x23.1x2.7cm
Battery: 6-cell lithium ion, 6,700mAh
Weight: 1.7kg

Fujitsu's Lifebook E743 is one of a family of corporate laptops that are based on a common motherboard design and Bios firmware. They can use the same desktop dock and peripherals, including a unique add-on projector, in a bid to make life easier for IT departments in organisations that standardise on them.

Available since August, the Lifebook E Line comprises a 15.6in, 14in and 13.3in laptop model, all of which share the same design and specifications. Fujitsu's reasoning behind this is that different users can be equipped with a laptop in a size that suits their role, while the IT department can support any of them with a single standard system image and a common pool of accessories.

Although the Lifebook E Line laptops are based on a common hardware platform, buyers get the usual choice of processors, memory and storage. At present, this does not extend to the newer Haswell 4th generation Intel Core laptop processors, so potential buyers will have to hold off until the first quarter of 2014, or be content with the older Ivy Bridge technology.
Fujitsu Lifebook E743
As a corporate laptop series, the Lifebook E Line models also have the security features you would expect, including a trusted platform module (TPM) chip, built-in smartcard reader for user authentication, optional fingerprint scanner and Intel's vPro technology. The Lifebook systems also have an increasingly rare feature: a removable battery pack.

However, some Lifebook E Line laptops are available without vPro, in case customers do not require this. Our review sample was one such model, shipping with a Core i5-3230M processor, 4GB of memory and a 500GB solid-state hybrid drive (SSHD), which combines a conventional hard disk with 8GB of flash for improved performance.

Many buyers will also be pleased to note that Fujitsu ships the Lifebook E Line models with Windows 7 by default, with upgrade rights for Windows 8 if and when customers are ready to move to the newer platform.
The whole Lifebook E Line shares a common styling, as you might expect with them being based on the same hardware platform, and it has to be said that the styling looks a little dated and conservative when compared with some of the latest ultrabook models on the market.

However, the brushed aluminium casing looks purposeful and business-like, and with its magnesium lid and sturdy metal hinge, the Lifebook E743 feels almost bulletproof, which is to say that it is reassuringly solid for those who need to take their laptops out on the road with them.

Likewise, with a 33.8x23.1cm footprint and 2.7cm at its thickest point, the Lifebook E743 is firmly in line with standard laptop dimensions, although with a starting weight of 1.7kg it is little heavier than some systems described as ultrabooks.

As a business system, the Lifebook sports a decent range of input and output ports and connectivity, including three USB 3.0 ports, one of which supports Anytime USB Charge capability, meaning it can supply power even when the laptop is turned off.

The left side of the chassis features an Ethernet port for connecting to LAN, VGA and DisplayPort connectors, one of the laptop's USB 3.0 ports plus slots for smartcard and SD Card readers. The right side has microphone and speaker jack sockets, two USB 3.0 ports, Kensington lock, and the system's modular bay for accessories such as an optical drive or second battery. There is also a lone USB 2.0 port at the rear of the case.
Fujitsu Lifebook E743 base
On the underside of the system is a connector for Fujitsu's desktop dock, which is also common across the Lifebook E Line. This £83 peripheral provides four USB 3.0 ports, two DisplayPort, one VGA and one DVI output for driving monitors, plus an Ethernet LAN port and eSata connector for extra storage.

Alongside the dock connector is a removable cover providing easy access to the system's two Dimm slots for easy upgrade or replacement of the memory, while the SIM card for the laptop's mobile broadband connection goes inside the battery compartment, as is typical on laptops.

Flipping open the lid of the Lifebook E743 reveals its chiclet or island-style keyboard, which offers decent-sized and generously spaced keys that make for comfortable typing, although we would have preferred sculpted key tops.

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About Doru Somcutean

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