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Fujitsu Lifebook U938 First Take: A premium lightweight ultraportable

Fujitsu’s U-series Lifebook laptops are slim and light, and ideal for the mobile professional. The 8th-generation Intel Core processor in the 13.3-inch Lifebook U938 should equip it to handle fairly demanding workloads too.

My review sample was a startlingly bright red, although conservative types may prefer the black option. Either way, the U938’s size and portability really impress. It comes in under the magic 1kg mark by some margin at just 920g, and is a compact 309.3mm wide by 213.5mm deep by 15.5mm thick. It slots easily into the smallest of rucksacks or bags.

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Fujitsu’s 13.3-inch Lifebook U938 runs on 8th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors with 16GB or 20GB of RAM and SSD storage up to 1TB. This touch-screen ultraportable weighs just 920g (2.02lbs) and is available with LTE mobile broadband.


Images: Fujitsu

It will need a protective sleeve though. Like other Fujutsu laptops I’ve examined recently, such as the 15.6-inch Lifebook E558 and convertible 12.5-inch Lifebook P728, there’s a fair bit of flex in the lid. It will therefore need some protection in transit — and in any case, if you choose the red model you’ll want to keep it scratch-free.

Fujitsu has squeezed a 13.3-inch touch-screen into a compact chassis, so the side bezels are a slim 7mm. The top bezel is larger, to accommodate the webcam. The screen itself is an FHD (1,920 x 1,080) panel that’s quite reflective. The hinges rotate far enough for the screen to lay flat on a desk or table.

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Rather than a fingerprint reader, the Lifebook U938 uses Fujitsu’s PalmSecure biometric authentication.


Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The Lifebook U938’s keyboard is very light under the fingers, and has quite a loud click. Unlike the lid, it exhibits almost no flex. There’s a double-width, double-height Enter key, and the arrow keys are almost full size. It’s all very usable, and I managed full-speed typing without any issues. The touchpad is a little squished and the wrist rest rather shallow, but I’d rather sacrifice these to have a larger keyboard, so I think Fujitsu has made the right decision in this respect.

Fujitsu uses biometrics on a lot of its laptops, and in this case fingerprint recognition is eschewed in favour of PalmSecure, which reads palm vein patterns and needs blood to be flowing in order to work. There’s a PalmSecure reader in the bottom right corner of the wrist rest. This can be used as a component in multi-factor authentication, as there’s also a smart card slot on the laptop’s left edge.

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The U938 has 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB-C, HDMI and Ethernet (RJ-45), plus an SD card reader and a smart card slot.


Image: Fujitsu

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Fujtisu has crammed plenty of connectivity options into the U938’s compact chassis. On the left edge, in addition to the smart card slot, there’s a 3.5mm audio jack, USB 3.0 and USB-C ports, and a full-size HDMI connector, plus a round-pin power jack. The right edge has an SD card reader, a second USB 3.0 port, and Ethernet port and a SIM card slot for the optional LTE mobile broadband.

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The U938 is too slim to accommodate a standard RJ-45 Ethernet port, so Fujitsu has come up with an ingenious pull-out mechanism.


Images: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The Ethernet port is noteworthy: the base of this laptop is just 10mm thick, so there’s no room for a conventional full-size RJ-45 connector. So instead it slides out and swivels into position. It’s rather flimsy, but very clever.

The Lifebook U938 runs Windows 10 Pro as standard. My review sample had an Intel Core i7-8650U processor with 20GB of RAM (one 16GB and one 4GB module) and a 256GB SSD. Storage options go up to 1TB.

See: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)

Fujitsu says the U938’s battery should last up to 13 hours, but I’m doubtful about that in real-world use. In one three-hour session with the screen set to its default of 40 percent, which was perfectly good enough for working indoors, the battery depleted by 38 percent. I wasn’t pushing the system hard — just writing, streaming some music and reading a few web pages.

This is an expensive laptop. There are four variants available as I write, with a starting price of £1,149 (ex. VAT) for a Core i5-8250U model with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. My review configuration costs £1,798 (ex. VAT).

If you choose the Lifebook U938, you’re not only paying for top-notch specifications and build quality, but also for excellent portability.

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