I have recently purchased a new laptop - a Fujitsu Loox-T subnotebook. Since the machine currently only retails in Japan at the moment, most of the information available on the Loox-T is in Japanese. However, Dynamism in the USA - a company specialising in sourcing Japanese-spec laptops for sale in the US and UK - can supply one configured with an English operating system, and with full support.
In an attempt to provide a starting point for people interested in this machine, I've decided to set this page up to collate information about the Loox-T, so that anyone considering buying one of these fine little laptops might get answers to questions I asked before buying mine.
The LifeBook P-2040 is now available in the US. A superb machine, it improves on the original Loox with a larger screen (1280x768), DVD/CDRW combo which can be swapped out for a massive capacity battery, and built-in 10/100 LAN connection. A model is even available with a Wireless network built-in. More information is available on Fujitsu's website.
I've started with some simple opinions and info on the notebook - I'll add more as and when I get time.
The Loox-T does, it has to be said, look very pretty. With its silver/blue simulated brushed-metal case, and sleek curves, it caused much interest in the office when I first unpacked it. Build quality seems very solid so far - in particular the screen feels very rigid, something I've not found on previous laptops.
Some sensible ideas have gone into the aesthetic design too, such as having felt matting glued to the underside (stopping the machine from sliding about when actually being used on your lap) and putting the battery at the front of the keyboard where it becomes a wrist-wrest without increasing the footprint of the machine. Of course this also means that with the enhanced battery, the wrist-wrest is extended, making an even more comfortable typing position.
The display is superb - certainly one of the best I've seen on any notebook, if not the best. The closest competitor in terms of brightness and clarity would be on a colleague's Sharp. Brightness is incredible, making my desktop VDU look dull; I've even turned the brightness down on a couple of occasions because it's too harsh - which is unusual on a TFT display.
The 1280x600 resolution is a good size, making a very decent desktop area with just slightly more vertical scrolling than on a 'normal' 1280x1024 screen. The unusual aspect ratio soon becomes perfectly natural, though, and of course is perfect for watching 'letterbox' (2.35:1) movies on DVD.
The Loox-T comes as standard with a 15Gb hard drive, but Dynamism can upgrade the hard-drive to something larger if necessary. Note that this isn't a Fujitsu option. The drive is accessable via a removable panel so it shouldn't be too difficult to replace the HDD with any of the 9.5mm drives on the market - for example, IBM have recently released a 40Gb model, and a 48Gb drive of the same form factor is soon to be released by Toshiba.
RAM is fixed at 128Mb, but can be expanded by replacing the chip with a 256Mb micro-DIMM. See the instructions by Paul Lulewicz for details of how to upgrade.
The Loox-T uses an ATI Rage Mobility graphics adapter, with 4Mb of video-RAM and an on-board 3D accelerator. I'd heard some less-than-good reports of this chip before I bought the machine, but since the only laptops available with the preferable GeForce-to-Go chipsets were in the 3.5kg range, I decided it probably wasn't too much of a compromise.
In actual fact, it turns out to be a good performer. For normal Windows tasks, the graphics are plenty fast enough, and when giving it a real test - Unreal Tournament - the performance is very good. Running at a resolution of 640x480 fullscreen with all the detail turned on, the game runs at a smooth and respectable 27-32fps, and looks very good too. More importantly, there are no pauses during play whilst the hard-drive or CPU 'catch up' with the action, meaning that gameplay is fluid and entertaining.
ATI's drivers aren't always up-to-date. However, some better drivers for the Rage Pro can be found here. Currently these drivers don't support 1280x600 (the native Loox-T resolution) but they do give significantly better performance when gaming, so might be worth trying. Also, check out the link to the latest ATI drivers which are very good (see the links section).
Connections are not extensive, but are certainly adequate. Left-to-right on the above image, the ports at the rear of the machine are:
Probably the most sorely-missed is an IrDA port, which would be much handier for connecting a cellphone to dial up and collect email on the move. However, as Bluetooth devices become more prevelant, this probably isn't such a big deal. From a personal point of view, I had an IrDA dial-up connection on my previous laptop, but really it was just a gimmicky toy - I never used it in anger, since there is almost always a phone socket nearby.
Sound seems excellent so far. The sound on Unreal Tournament is rather good - a real spacial system, meaning that (with headphones) it's possible to anticipate incoming rockets etc, just from the sound alone. There doesn't seem to be any performance issues with the soundcard, either.
I've watched Gladiator on DVD on the Loox and it sounds superb via headphones. Obviously the sound reproduction from the speakers isn't brilliant, but then what laptop speakers ever sounded good? Having said that, they're not too bad - as good as any other laptop I've heard, and because of the good position (below the screen) they actually do present a stereo soundstage of sorts, although it's obviously fairly 'tinny'.
Not much to say here except that the action is very good, and it's very comfortable to touch-type on. Bear in mind that because the machine is only available in Japan the keyboard has the Japanese characters on the keys, but you soon learn to ignore them. It's a simple act to map the keyboard to either a US or UK layout.
There's been a lot of discussion about whether the Transmeta Crusoe is a 'fast' enough CPU. The T7/63 comes with a 633Mhz Crusoe T5600, which is certainly fast enough for most use. I've done MS Visual C++ development on the Loox-T, used CorelDraw 7, played Unreal Tournament and played DVDs - all of which have run absolutely fine and significantly faster than my previous machine (a Sony Vaio Picturebook, with a 266Mhz MMX). True, the CPU is never going to compete with the 800Mhz+ Pentiums available on some notebooks these days, but if you need that sort of CPU power then the Loox-T probably isn't what you want anyway.
DVD playback is excellent, although the bundled WinDVD didn't work quite so well - it was a bit jerky. The default screen settings were set to 32-bit colour, and switching down to 16-bit colour improved things but I found the best solution was to install PowerDVD, which allowed me to turn on the hardware DVD decoding, and playback is perfect - although so far I've only tried Gladiator, as I don't have any other DVDs yet.
One thing I have noticed, though, is that the playback can be affected by background processing if other applications are running. This can lead to the playback slowing down or becoming jerky every now and again. To get around this, I set up a second user account on the machine which is simply used for DVD viewing - when the 'DVD' user logs in, PowerDVD launches immediately, and all other applications are disabled. I also disabled the screensaver in this account (since it interferes with playback) and turned off all of Windows XP's visual niceties (sliding menus, etc) so that the minimum of performance inhibiting features were enabled. This all resulted in flawless playback.
Note that the DVD drive starts out as region-free, but will lock to a single region after several (5?) changes. To overcome this, follow the instructions on unlocking the DVD region - at your own risk.
The battery life, so far, seems excellent. Although obviously the manufacturer's claims of 7 hours' life from the enhanced battery are pie in the sky, even with the DVD playing the enhanced battery only drained used 37% of a full charge during a 1h20m viewing session. So it'll easily be able to handle a complete 2.5 hour movie from the enhanced battery. That's with the screen at full brightness, too. Less intensive tasks yield times of 4 - 4.5 hours from a full charge which is more than enough for me.
The standard battery performs well too, giving around 2.5 hours' use on a full charge. This drops to about 1h45m when doing intensive tasks (such as gaming) but it's still fairly respectable.
The power adapter for the loox is a small one designed to have the cable wrapped around it when travelling - it even has a velcro strap to keep the wrapped cable snug. Input voltage is 110/240v, so fine for the UK and or US. For anyone considering running the machine from a different power supply, the input voltage for the laptop itself (i.e., the output from the adapter) is 16v at 2.5A.
The Loox-T weighs about 3.3lbs.
My Fujitsu came from Dynamism with Windows ME (US) already installed and configured in English. The first thing I did was to upgrade the installation to Windows XP, and so far have had no problems whatsoever. All of the devices have correctly installed with the right drivers, even down to the unusual screen resolution.
It is possible to run Linux on the Loox machines. This guy has put together a page detailing how to do it for the non-DVD Loox-S - the page is in French, but running it through any of the web translation engines (such as Altavista's Babelfish) will give a good enough translation.
Useful utilities/drivers which will help you get the most out of your Loox-T.
A Loox-T email discussion group is available on Yahoogroups, for exchanging information and tips. To subscribe,
send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or click the link:
More links to come here in future.
If you have any information about the Fujitsu Loox-T, or know of any decent links to information related to the laptop, please email me and I'll add them to the page.