Fujitsu Lifebook P2120

Introduction and History

I recently felt it was time to upgrade to a new notebook computer. My trusty existing Fujitsu Loox-T T5/533 was nearly 2 years old was still running strong; however, I sometimes felt limited by it.

My original Fujitsu Loox T. The first “P”.

For it’s time, it was way ahead of anything else in its category. In fact, it redefined the category for sub-notebooks as it was and still is the only sub-notebook to offer a built-in optical drive. Here’s a run down of the specs of my original Fujitsu Loox-T:

ETransmeta Crusoe TM5600-533 MHz
E128MB of SDRAM
E10E1280x600 LCD Screen (Sharp)
EATI Rage Mobility 4MB SDRAM
E10GB Toshiba Hard Disk
E8x DVD-ROM (Toshiba SR-2102)
E1 x IEEE1394 port (4-pin)
E2 x USB 1.1 ports
E1 x S-Video TV Out
ERJ-11 Modem Jack
E1 PC Card Slot
E1 x External USB Floppy Drive
EAudio-out, Microphone-In, Headphone
EWindows ME
EA5 form factor and 3.4lbs (with standard battery) or 4.1lbs (with double capacity battery)

At the time of purchase, this machine was not available in the United States and thus I had to purchase an import from Dynamism. This was a great machine for travelling (and I was abroad at the time) since it was so small. On weekend trips, I was taking lots of digital photos and I would always stuff the notebook into my messenger bag for quick photo unloading. Additionally, the DVD functionality came in quite handy on plane and train rides. The fact that one could watch an entire movie and still have battery left over was simply astounding. The 16:9 widescreen aspect of the 10ELCD was a bonus since movies played full screen. I was quite impressed that Transmeta’s Crusoe 533Mhz chip (roughly equivalent to an Intel Pentium II 400Mhz chip) played DVDs so smoothly and without generating very much heat. In fact, system had no fan whatsoever and has been the most silent system I’ve ever used.

Although the manufacturer claims were a bit bold, the actual life of the battery did truly amaze me. With a standard battery and an enhanced battery, I could get in nearly 8 hours of usable computing when not using the machine for DVD viewing. I could get in one movie and 4 hours of computing or two movies and 1.5 hours of computing as well. On my trips from Los Angeles to Paris (11-12 hours), being able to use my notebook half of that time was a definite lifesaver from absolute boredom.

As great as the machine was, I always had a few reservations about it. I knew that when purchasing a sub-notebook, one had to sacrifice something in order to get such a compact system. My reservations were the following:

EThe processing power was not as great as I expected although performance was actually quite good under Windows ME. My reservations are more with running Windows 2000 and Windows XP. However, I realize that’s not fair since a lot of machines with 533MHz processors and 128MB of RAM don’t run those OSes that well either.
EThe memory was not upgradeable. Since the system was designed for Windows ME, this is understandable. 128MB is great for Windows ME and even Linux; however, 128MB (actually 112MB because of the Crusoe processor) is the bare realistic minimum for Windows 2000 and Windows XP. An untweaked setup can use up to 70-80MB to begin with leaving little memory for applications.
EThere was no built-in RJ-45 Ethernet jack. This wasn’t really too big of an issue initially since I was travelling and didn’t have access to Ethernet connections. However, having to carry around PC Cards and dongles was quite annoying. I carried around a WiFi PC Card too just in case I had the opportunity to use it.
E10GB only? Actually, that was the standard at the time and actually it was quite generous considering many laptops were only being shipped with 6GB at the time. I eventually upgraded this to 20GB IBM Travelstar 40GNX 5400RPM drive with an 8MB cache.

So, most of my reservations had to do with more future computing possibilities as the notebook made sense for my lifestyle at the time.

The Search

As I began researching for a new notebook, I realized I was quite used to having my existing size system and didn’t want to move up to a larger sized, more powerful notebook. My notebook serves as a complimentary system to my desktop system and thus, I didn’t need the fastest laptop. I did know that I wanted something that would address some of my reservations from before. Slightly faster, more memory, larger capacity and more connectivity options is what I was looking before.

My search for a replacement didn’t last very long and I ended up back at Fujitsu. Being used to having an optical drive, I was looking for other models that had the same functionality. To my surprise, there were still no other comparable models (A5 form factor) with an optical drive.

I had been following the adoption of the Loox-T line in the US market and knew it had been re-branded as the Fujitsu Lifebook P2xxx series. Along the way, a new case design was introduced as well as a bevy of new features. Not only that, the price of the system had dropped to as low as $1499. This was simply amazing considering that the original system I purchased was well over $2500.

I had wanted to get one earlier but I had decided to wait to see how the line progressed. At the end of the year 2002, I saw a deal on the system that was hard to pass up. Free shipping, a free memory upgrade, and $100 less than the manufacturer’s price was enough to entice me. And so, I ended up purchasing the latest model Lifebook P2120 (or equivalent to the Japanese Loox-T T93C) from Laptop, Inc.

New and Improved.

The Specifications

The latest revision of the Fujitsu Lifebook P2xxx series is the P2120 and its specifications completely met my criteria. In fact, it exceeded my criteria in some cases. Here are the system specifications for the model I purchased.

ETransmeta Crusoe TM5800-933 MHz
E512MB of SDRAM
E10.6E1280x768 LCD Screen (Sharp)
EATI Radeon Mobility 8MB DDR SDRAM
E40GB Toshiba Hard Disk (Toshiba 4018GAP)
E8x DVD-ROM/16x CDR/10x CDRW/ 24x CD-ROM (Toshiba SD-R2212)
E1 x IEEE1394 port (4-pin)
E2 x USB 2.0 ports
E1 x S-Video TV Out
ERJ-45 10/100 Ethernet (Realtek)
ERJ-11 Modem Jack
EBuilt-in 802.11b Wireless networking (Intersil Prism)
E1 PC Card Slot
E1 x VGA Out (requires dongle)
E1 x Internal Hot Swap Floppy Drive
E1 x Weight Saver for Hot Swap Bay
EAudio-out, Microphone-In, Headphone
EWindows XP Home (upgraded to Pro)
EA5 form factor and 3.4lbs (with standard battery) or 4.0lbs (with double capacity battery)

First Impressions

One of the first things I noticed was the new larger screen. It’s not better than the original screenEust bigger and that’s not taking anything away from it. It just means that Fujitsu uses some really quality screens for their notebooks. They are sharp, vibrant, and definitely outstanding. The new resolution of 1280x768 is still widescreen and provides excellent DVD viewing and offers a much more usable experience when using everyday applications like word processing, web surfing, and html coding.

The new design is a lot flashier and modern than the original design and everything is laid out quite well. I’m not crazy about the black Lifebook logo on the top of the notebook. I would have preferred matching metallic silver like the original design. Of course, this a lame point since I’m rarely looking at the back of the machine. Also, I’m puzzled by the blue plastic used where the built-in wireless antenna is located. I would have used a translucent greyEut yeah, I’m totally nitpicking.

I’m not terribly impressed with the location of the speakers. Although I rarely use them (since I’m normally wearing headphones) they seem inappropriately placed. If you have your hands in a proper typing position they will rest over the speakers thus muffling the sound. This isn’t too big of a deal since notebook speakers traditionally suck. These are no exception…they’re very tinny; however,  they are loud enough for the system to act as an alarm clock (when I’m on the road) even if the notebook is closed.

The built-in WiFi (wireless Ethernet) works very well although I think the range isn’t very good compared to my PC Card.


I love the “mobile multi bayEwhich allows you to take out the DVD/CDRW drive and replace it with a floppy drive, a weight saver, or an additional high capacity battery. With the weight saver and the standard battery, the weight of the laptop drops to 2.8lbs making it insanely light! The enhanced battery continues to serve as great wrist support.

The system now has a fan but it very rarely turns itself on. There is great debate on the function of this fan with some saying that it’s for the CPU while others saying it’s for the when the PC Card slot gets too hot. Personally, I believe it’s simply a system fan for the CPU, hard disk and the PC Card slot. The fan itself is throttled depending on how warm the system is.


There’s also a LCD display showing battery status and spindle access. It shows you when a PCMCIA card is plugged and when the hard disk and optical drive are in use. Additionally, it shows you when numlock, capslock, and scroll lock are active.

Because of the size of the notebook, you’re stuck with the eraser head TrackPoint pointing system. I’ve been using one of these for the last couple of years so I’m used to it and I’ve trained myself to know most keyboard shortcuts so this is not a big issue. Plugging in mouse or tablet easily solves this issue.

The P2120 also features a few programmable application buttons. Labeled A and B, you can assign virtually any program to these buttons. There is also a mail button located at the bottom of the WiFi antenna which can periodically check your e-mail for you and flash when you have new incoming mail.

With the built-in Indicator Utility software loaded, you can visually see the effects of the Function button on the display. Basically, it looks like the OSD that you would typically see on a TV.

One thing that bugged me was the lack of a true restoration CDs. The system ships with 3 CDs. One is a Windows XP Service Pack 1 CD. The second is a Drivers and Applications CD. The last CD is a DVD/CDRW software applications CD. The system is shipped with the hard disk partitioned into two parts. One partition contains the image of original system just in case you need to restore the system. While this still works, I would have preferred a set of restoration CDs, in the event of an accidental deletion of the image file.

Build Quality

The original Loox T was the most solid notebook I’ve ever used. The build quality was impeccable in so many different aspects. The newer Lifebook P2xxx models (with the new design) continue this trend as the notebook feels solid and well-built. The screen is surrounded with what feels like magnesium with a cool finish.

On the bottom of the Lifebook, there are two pieces of felt material that act as anti-slip pads for when you’re using the system on your lap. This is a really nice touch and I have yet to see another manufacturer use a similar scheme.

The PC Card slot comes with a filler to keep dust and other things from getting inside. Personally, I don’t really like this since it’s just another thing to carry and lose. Both Sony VAIOs and Apple PowerBooks use a trapdoor type of mechanism that is a lot more elegant and still very reliable.

I do feel that the newer design is not as solid as the original model. The keyboard does seem to creak a little and you can see it move when you’re typing. It’s not a major thing but it does seem to flex more than other notebooks that I’ve used. Overall, the new P2120 is a solid notebook and doesn’t feel cheap.

Connectivity and Ports

With the plethora of new ports on the new model, connectivity is nearly perfect. In addition to the usual modem jack, having built-in wireless and Ethernet ports make this system a joy as I no longer need to carry around extra PC Cards. Additionally, the USB and Firewire ports can be used for connectivity further adding options. Thanks to Windows XPs built-in support for Firewire networking, transfers are really quite fast when connected to other Firewire enabled systems. Having two USB 2.0 ports is a very nice addition. Even better is that there’s enough current in the ports to drive a USB 2.0 2.5Eexternal hard disk eliminating the need for an external power supply. With the growing number of USB 2.0 devices available on the market, this notebook is on the cutting edge and supports many current and future devices.

The plethora of connectivity options.


Ok, back to nitpicking. I really really wished they had added either Bluetooth or infrared to the mix. Having both would be ideal but I’d settle for just one of the two for easier wireless connectivity to my Sony CLIE Palm handheld or my Bluetooth/infrared enabled phone (Sony Ericsson T68i). Of course, this is solved using a D-Link USB Bluetooth dongleEut we’ll save that story for another day.

Since I have an aversion to dongles, I must point out that I’m not entirely crazy about having to use a VGA dongle to power an external monitor. Since this is something I rarely do, it’s not too big of an issue. Of course, having a covered full VGA port would have been a lot nicer.

I do like how the headphone jack has now been separated from the microphone and audio-out jacks and placed on the right side of the system. In my opinion, it just makes it easier to plug-in without reaching around the back.


I’ve always felt that the Transmeta Crusoe chips provide “just enoughEperformance for what I need to do and the latest revision of the chip continues that trend. With the processing speed now up to 933Mhz, I finding that I can use a lot more applications on my notebook that were previously too demanding on my 533 MHz based machine. Like before, the Crusoe processor borrows 16MB of your memory for its translation processes. The new CMS code of the TM5800 is supposedly more efficient than the original code of the TM5600. In my estimation, the 933 MHz Transmeta Crusoe is equivalent to an Intel Pentium III-700. In some cases, it’s faster while in other cases, it’s slower.

The refresh of the video to the Radeon Mobility with 8MB of Double Data Rate (DDR) SDRAM is a welcome addition. This newer part is still low power while providing very good 2D performance and DVD playback and adequate 3D performance.

The ability to have 512MB really made me quite happy. As I mentioned before, I typically use my notebook in conjunction with my digital photography and the added processing muscle and memory has helped me be more productive and has allowed me to experiment more without needing to go to my desktop system. Moreover, the additional memory allows me to keep more applications open while working and that’s always an added plus.

Oddly enough, Fujitsu states that the system will accept a maximum 384MB of system memory. Owners of the P21xx series know that you can upgrade to 512MB. The reason for the discretion is that at the time of the system introduction, 256MB microDIMMs were not easily attainable in large quantities at reasonable prices. Furthermore, most users in the market for sub-notebooks do not need more than 384MB of system memory. One also has to remember that 16MB of system memory is dedicated to the Transmeta Crusoe processor used in the Lifebook P2120. That effectively leaves you with 496MB of usable memory if you have 512MB.

My initial feeling of the P2120 was that it seemed a bit sluggish at times. A lot of this had to do with the Windows XP “LunaEinterface and all of the eye candy that was enabled. Switching Windows XP to Classic Mode and turning off a lot of the eye candy made the system much more responsive. Disabling many unused and unnecessary services also seemed to provide a noticeable performance boost. I later found out that Windows XP’s power setting had a lot to do with how the system responded.

Battery Life

One of the neatest developments with Windows XP is its native support for the Transmeta Crusoe processor. Because of this native support, no additional software is needed to enable the Crusoe’s power management abilities and it can be simply controlled via Windows power control panel applet. On the default setting of Portable/Laptop, the Crusoe’s LongRun power management abilities will throttle the CPU changing the CPU clock speed, lowering the voltage and providing the appropriate performance as needed. It will drop down as low as 300 MHz with steps at 400 MHz, 667 MHz, and 933MHz. At the Always On setting, the processor will remain at 933 MHz offering a noticeably quicker response.

In terms of overall battery life, I feel like the system doesn’t last nearly as long as the original model. It’s comparable but just a bit under the original system. Of course, it’s not really a fair comparison since the newer system has a faster processor and a larger screen to illuminate. With the optional bay battery and an enhanced battery, it is possible to get a good 10 hours of real battery life. Regardless, the P2xxx series of notebooks still provide the best real life notebook battery life I’ve seen. You really can be away from a power source for an extended period of time with this system.

My experience with DVD playback is that it’s pretty good. So far, the best experience I’ve had is when I recently took a cross country trip to New York from Los Angeles. I only brought my enhanced battery with me and I was able to watch a 90 minute film and still have enough juice to last another two hours of e-mail writing, some word processing and some SNES emulated game playing. I consider that very acceptable performance.


The P2120 is measured at 10.6”(w) x 7”(d) x 1.59”(h) classifying it as an A5 sized sub-notebook. At a mere 3.4lbs with the standard battery, the diminutive P2120 is a pleasure to carry around and is hardly noticeable even after a days worth of lugging it around. Swapping out the optical drive with the weight saver drops the weight to 2.8lbs. With the optical drive and enhanced battery, the weight is around 4lbs. It slips into the smallest of messenger bags and geared for mobile use.

The included power supply brick is also fairly small and smaller than previous generations. The cord comes with a Velcro strap for better cable management.

During a recent trip to New York City, I carried my P2120 around all day and was able to unload pictures onto it. Also, I was able to check my e-mails at nearly every single Starbucks in the city thanks to the built-in wireless internet and the access points at the Starbucks.

Final Thoughts and Wishlist

Ok, I’m really happy with this notebook. I know I made some seemingly contradictory statements since I was comparing this to the previous model that I own. Nearly all of the missing features I wanted are now standard on this notebook and that’s absolutely fantastic. The exceptional battery life does allow me to get usable time when away from a socket when I’m sipping cappucino’s at Starbucks while surfing the internet. Above all, this notebook allows me to do what I need to do and because of that, it’s a perfect fit for me.

This notebook is not for everyone.

People looking for a desktop replacement will probably want to look elsewhere as this system really isn’t designed to play games or perform well with heavy duty 3D graphics.

However, people who are “on the goEshould really look into this notebook. At 2.8 to 4lbs (depending on configuration), this is one notebook you won’t have to worry about carrying around. For most people with basic needs of checking e-mail, surfing the net, watching DVDs, writing documents, listening to music and burning CDs this is the perfect machine.

So, what would I like to see in future models? In the foreseeable future, I’d like to see the following enhancements.

EWhile it would have been nice to have 16-32MB of video memory, it doesn’t make too much sense considering this class of machine was not designed to play games.

EThe fact that this sub-notebook accepts 512MB of memory is already an exceptional feature. Notebooks in this class aren’t generally used for heavy duty computing. So, it would be nice to see a move to DDR memory instead of SDRAM for some added performance. The Transmeta chipset can use DDR memory so they might as well take advantage of it like Sony does in their latest Picturebook.

EWhile I found performance more than adequate for my needs, it never helps to put in a faster CPU. If they continue to stick with Transmeta, I’d like to see faster clocked models or at least an updated CMS that improves performance. There’s already talk of a 24MB CMS used in Sony Transmeta products that increases performance. If they don’t stick with Transmeta then perhaps we can see a Intel Centrino platform based solution.

EI’d also like to see a slot loading drive added to the system as it’s less flimsy as a device and it adds some more coolness factor to the system.

EAlthough I’m having a very decent experience with the wireless antenna, it definitely could be a lot better. It requires a pretty open area and strong signal to operate at its best. I’m sure there are costs and power saving issues at hand here but one can always hope.

EA flip down slot cover for PC Card slot is also needed to add a little polish to the system. This will make it more elegant and it will be one less item you’ll need to carry around.

EFinally, I’d like to see Bluetooth built-in as it’s starting to catch some steam now and there are a plethora of devices now available on the market utilizing the technology. It doesn’t have to be standard but it should be an option that users can add-on.

While these “wishes” would be nice, the fact remains that an already full featured product exists and is readily available now for those people who need it. If you’re in the market for a portable, can do nearly everything sub-notebook, then look no further than the Fujitsu Lifebook P2120.

If you’re in market for a Fujitsu laptop then I highly recommend Global Computers (aka Laptop Inc.). I found the process very easy and their level of communication and support to be outstanding.

If you’re looking for more information about this laptop then I also highly recommend visiting for the most comprehensive forums and resources regarding the Fujitsu P series.








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