http://solutions.us.fujitsu.com, Price: $599
Just 1.02 inches thick and weighing 3.08 pounds, the Fujitsu LIFEBOOK PH520 notebook boasts many features that enable it to surpass its higher-cost competitors.
QUALITY AND EFFECTIVENESS: The LIFEBOOK PH520 is small, but it is a powerful notebook featuring an AMD Athlon II Neo K125 1.7-gigahertz processor, a two-gigabyte DDR3 1333 MHz3 memory (clocked at 800 MHz by the chipset), and a 320-gigabyte hard drive. It has an attractive glossy red case that opens to an 11.6-inch Crystal View WXGA HD display that is crisp, bright, and easily read even in sunlight. A six-cell Li-Ion battery lasts 5.5 hours and recharges quickly. The Fujitsu comes with Windows 7 Professional and Microsoft Office Starter 2010, which includes limited-functionality versions of Word and Excel but not PowerPoint or Outlook.
EASE OF USE: The PH520 never feels like a downsized notebook, though it can be easily tucked into a tote bag and takes up about as much room as a pad of paper. Connections are a breeze with either Wi-Fi or Ethernet LAN, and it is easy to transfer data using either the integrated Bluetooth or the MemoryStick/SD card. The Bluetooth permits quick data interchange with cell phones and MP3 players and also connects to headphones, mice, keyboards, and Bluetooth speakers. Though the keyboard and supersensitive, gestureenabled touchpad both require a brief period of adjustment, they function as well as their larger counterparts. The keys are almost full-sized, and zooming, scrolling, and rotating pictures require just the flick of a finger on the touchpad.
CREATIVE USE OF TECHNOLOGY: Nearly every feature of the PH520 is a cut above average. From the vivid HD display to the stereo speakers to its quick and powerful performance, to the natural feel of the keyboard, this little dynamo performs. Those who miss a CD/DVD drive will love the DVD Sharing Application, a simple, user-friendly way to share an optical disk drive with other PCs via wireless connection. External drives are available and can be connected via the USB port.
SUITABILITY FOR USE IN A SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT: Many of the PH520’s features, such as the built-in Webcam and HDMI port, will be useful in the classroom, and the small size makes it ideal for classroom group work. Teachers will appreciate the spill-resistant 82-key keyboard and touchpad. Though it is not as expensive as other, comparable laptops, the PH520 may still be beyond the means of schools with limited budgets that are looking to equip full classrooms. Rather than purchase a netbook of a similar size, for a little more money schools can get a lot more in value with the LIFEBOOK PH520 notebook.
—Mary Ann Karre
Despite its comparably low cost, the Fujitsu PH520 holds its own against competitors; it has more than enough power and features to multitask in almost any classroom situation. Educators will appreciate its long battery life, built-in Webcam and microphone, and external video port for connections to classroom projectors. Streaming videos on the PH520 is a delight, as images displayed on the backlighted HD screen are crisp, clear, and visible in any light.