The $2,450 Fujitsu LifeBook N6210 squeezes a complete entertainment center into one package with TV and DVD functionality, a huge amount of storage space, a terrific 17-inch wide-screen display, and enough oomph for productivity and multimedia computing. Still, despite its solid performance in our benchmark tests, it's not the best system for gaming, and it's absolutely the wrong system for anyone who needs to move a laptop any further than the next room. Though we think the LifeBook N6210 is a good machine, if we were going to spend this much, we'd shell out a few bucks more for a multimedia system with superior gaming gas and a better TV experience (though less hard drive capacity): the Toshiba Qosmio G25-AV513.
Weighing 9.7 pounds and measuring 15.9 inches wide, 11.6 inches deep, and nearly 2 inches thick, the black-and-dark-gray LifeBook N6210 is one of the biggest and heaviest notebooks on the market. A 1-pound AC adapter brick makes its total weight a staggering 10.7 pounds. Once you put this notebook down, you'll want to leave it where it is. For context, only the monstrous 11.1-pound Toshiba Qosmio G25-AV513 and the 12.1-pound HP Pavilion zd8000 are heftier, while most other entertainment systems with 17-inch screens, such as the Sony VAIO VGN-A690 and the Dell Inspiron 9300 are 1 to 2 pounds lighter. Still, its size gives the LifeBook N6210 room enough for a full-size keyboard, a separate numerical pad, and a large touch pad with big buttons. For similar multimedia features in a smaller package, see our review of the LifeBook N3510.
It may be big, but with an integrated TV tuner, it's also a degree more self-contained than other big multimedia desktop replacements that rely on external tuners (the Pavilion zd8000, the Inspiron 9300, and the VAIO VGN-A690, for example). We were disappointed with the TV experience the LifeBook N6210 offered, however. While it can tune to 158 channels, we found the reception fuzzy, and it took an annoying 3 seconds to change stations. Clearly, this is not the notebook for impatient channel surfers. The first-rate remote control has a range of about 25 feet, but it's rather bulky compared to the tiny one for the Pavilion zd8000.
The LifeBook N6210's 17-inch wide-screen display pumps out very bright, sharp, and rich images and smooth video; its fine 1,440x900 native resolution equals that of the Qosmio G25-AV501 but affords less screen real estate than the VAIO VGN-A690 and the Inspiron 9300, which feature a superfine 1,920x1,200 resolution. In addition to the expected media-player controls, the N6210 has a trio of split circular buttons for changing channels, toggling from TV to disc player, and controlling the volume; there's also a bright-red LED volume indicator that we would have gladly traded for a channel indicator.
If you're looking for Windows XP Media Center Edition, keep looking; like Sony, Fujitsu has developed its own software. No need to boot the OS to listen to a CD or start watching TV or a DVD. MyMedia offers the fastest way to entertainment, coming up from a dead stop in about 15 seconds. You'll have to start Windows separately to play a game, do some computing, listen to MP3s, or record TV on the hard drive (though you can record TV to a DVD-RAM disc via MyMedia). We really like the included InterVideo WinDVR software video recorder and the TitanTV online program guide; WinDVR's rotating 16-station video thumbnail grid is very cool, and Titan's guide offers more onscreen programming choices than Windows Media Center or Sony's Zap2it-based viewing guide. In addition to the expected Fujitsu utilities, the N6210 comes preloaded with Microsoft Windows Home and the scaled-down Microsoft Works 8.0 productivity suite.
The LifeBook N6210's Realtek HD audio chip delivers rich and vibrant sound through the system's front-firing speakers and bottom-mounted subwoofer; still, it doesn't get quite loud enough to really crank out tunes. If A/V ports are important to you, you're in luck: the LifeBook N6210 has a trio of composite A/V plugs as well as S-Video, external monitor, FireWire, and four USB 2.0 ports and an S/PDIF optical audio connector. In addition to the expected modem and wired LAN, the N6210 has an Intel Wi-Fi radio that can latch on to 802.11a/b/g networks; in our tests, it stayed online 95 feet from our base station. The PC Card slot works with Type I or II cards and upcoming Express cards, and the flash card reader can accommodate Secure Digital, Memory Stick, and even tiny xD cards.