LifeBook E2000 offers high security, low price

Affordability has always been the name of the game with Fujitsu PC Corp. notebooks, and the new LifeBook E2000 is no exception. We've always liked Fujitsu's offerings because they don't compromise quality for price.

Our favorite feature on this model — and one that federal agency users will appreciate — is the Security/Application Panel. Located above the keyboard, the panel consists of four numbered buttons and an enter button.

During normal operation, the buttons function as application launchers. But before the boot sequence takes place, they can be used to enter a passcode that allows access to the machine.

Passcodes consist of one- to five-button "strokes." A stroke can consist of one pushed button or any combination of buttons pushed at one time. For example, a valid passcode could require users to push the 1 and 2 buttons simultaneously, then the 3 button by itself, then the 1, 3 and 4 buttons simultaneously. There are more than 800,000 possible passcodes.

This system offers two distinct advantages over software-based passwords: First, because it protects the computer before the boot sequence, it is impossible to bypass via a back-door method. The notebook remains completely locked down until valid a passcode is entered.

Second, because a person must physically press buttons that are not part of the keyboard, a thief could not use hacking software such as a program that automatically enters all possible password combinations.

Finally, to the uninitiated potential thief, it's not even apparent this security system exists. No message flashes on the screen saying "enter passcode" — something that might prompt someone to begin trying random key combinations. The screen remains black and the only indication is a small key symbol that appears on the LCD.

Another excellent security feature is its ability to read smart cards. Users can purchase an optional Smart Card Holder from Fujitsu for $25. It fits into the PC Card slot.

Security features aside, the LifeBook E2000 offers a solid set of desktop replacement specifications. Our unit shipped with a 2.4G Intel Corp. Mobile Intel Pentium 4 Processor, 512M of DDR266 memory (expandable to 1G) and a 60G hard drive.

The roomy 15-inch SXGA+ display boasts an impressive maximum resolution of 1400x1050 at 16 million colors. Graphics are powered by an ATI Technologies Inc. Radeon IGP340M controller with 4x AGP support and 16M, 32M, 64M or 128M of user-selectable shared video memory. This means video memory is shared with the total system memory and users can choose one of the above amounts to allocate to graphics (the default is 32M). Power graphics users will appreciate this flexibility, and you can change the allocation amount at any time to suit your needs.

The LifeBook E2000 manages to look slim even though it's slightly more than 1.5 inches thick. The color is Fujitsu's signature metallic light blue with a darker metallic blue wrist rest. Its weight with the DVD/CD-RW combination drive and battery installed is about 6.5 pounds.

The system features a touch pad with a scroll button and a clear LCD for system status information. The headphone and microphone jacks are conveniently located on the front of the unit.

Ports include two USB 2.0, serial, parallel, VGA, PS/2 with Y-connector support (you can use an adapter to plug in both a keyboard and mouse at the same time), modem, Ethernet, S-video out and infrared.

In addition to an Ethernet port and a 56K V.90 modem, Fujitsu has integrated 802.11b wireless to round out the communications package. The antenna is built into the notebook cover and an on/off switch is located on the unit's left side.

The PC Card slot holds one Type III or two Type II cards, and the modular bay also can hold a CD-ROM drive, DVD drive or second battery. Our unit came bundled with a USB external floppy drive that nicely matches the notebook's style. Fujitsu claims up to 2.5 hours of battery life with the primary battery alone and up to 4.5 hours with a second battery installed.

Our unit shipped with Microsoft Corp. Windows XP Home Edition, but Windows XP Professional and Windows 2000 Professional are also available.

At $2,299 this notebook is a great value, especially considering the excellent security features. We recommend this system to buyers looking for robust security and full features in an affordable package.

REPORT CARD

LifeBook E2000

Grade: A

Fujitsu PC Corp.

(800) 831-3183

www.fujitsupc.com

The LifeBook E2000 is available for $2,299 through www.fujitsupc.com, by calling (877) FPC-DIRECT or through Fujitsu's retail and reseller programs. Inquire with Fujitsu about discounted government pricing.

This notebook offers robust security features at an affordable price.

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