There's not much to get excited about with Fujitsu's 15-inch LifeBook, the A6120. It features the same functional yet boxy chassis as its predecessor, the A6110, but adds an Intel Penryn processor and upgraded specs for a couple hundred dollars more, while shedding a bit of weight in the process. At $1,319 (after $50 mail-in rebate), the LifeBook A6120 is priced fairly among the mainstream laptop competition, and it's one of the first 15-inch models to receive a Penryn update. Though you may overlook it for a flashier Pavilion model or a more colorful Dell unit, the LifeBook A6120 does deliver in three key areas for any laptop user. It boasts a solid construction to withstand the daily abuses heaped upon it, a beautiful display, and great application performance among its class. This is not a laptop for turning heads at your local Starbucks, but for a general purpose laptop for the home, the LifeBook A6120 more than fits the bill.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$1,369 / $1,299|
|Processor||2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100|
|Memory||3GB, 667MHz DDR2|
|Hard drive||300GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA X3100 (integrated)|
|Operating System||Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Dimensions (WDH)||14.0 x 10.5 x 1.6 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.4 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||6.3 / 7.2 pounds|
Our chief complaints last year with the A6110 were its poor battery life, its dismal multitasking performance, and its bulky, heavy case. The A6120 addresses each of these issues. The Penryn processor and extra GB of RAM helped its benchmark scores improve dramatically, and the battery ran for about a half hour longer. And though the chassis remains the same, the A6120 is three ounces lighter at 6.3 pounds. It's still a bit heavier and thicker than Dell's 15-inch Inspiron 1525. And though the Inspiron 1525 doesn't offer Penryn processors, a similarly configured Inspiron 1525 with a comparable Core 2 Duo T7250 chip will save you around $200 compared with the LifeBook A6120. Do note that Fujitsu sweetens the deal by offering you a choice of a free 4GB flash drive or a free Lexmark X2500 all-in-one inkjet printer.
In her review of the LifeBook A6110, Michelle Thatcher found the keyboard comfortable but was worried that heavy-handed typists might find that the keyboard flexed a bit too much. Well, I'm safely in the heavy-handing typing category--co-workers often wonder if I'm angry because of the loud thwacking that emanates from my office when I write--and I can say that keyboard flex was not a problem for me and my lead fingers. The keys have a somewhat soft feel to them, but nothing to distract from the overall experience. The keyboard is also spill-resistant, with a membrane underneath to protect the internal component from a toppled beverage. The touchpad, while on the small size, is adequate. The mouse keys remain shortened, even though our review unit did not include the optional fingerprint reader. A small plastic square sits between the two mouse buttons in lieu of the fingerprint reader.
The best feature of the LifeBook A6120 is its display. It features the typical 1,280x800 native resolution for 15.4-inch wide-screen displays and a glossy finish, which Fujitsu calls Crystal View. I normally run the other way from glossy screen coatings, but this one does not suffer from distracting glares and reflections. The resulting picture is crisp and bright with vivid colors. While I can't say I sat through all three hours of Peter Jackson's indulgent King Kong, the scenes I did watch looked great with smooth movement and good detail even in the dark, jungle scenes.
|Fujitsu LifeBook A6120||Average for mainstream category|
|Video||VGA-out, S-video||VGA-out, S-video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||Five USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, mulitformat memory card reader||Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, mulitformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||PC Card, ExpressCard||PC Card slot|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
As stated earlier, the LifeBook A6120 showed dramatic improvement in labs testing from the A6110 tested near the end of last year. It basically went from trailing the mainstream pack to leading it. Though it's priced at the high end for this category (our review unit included a hard drive upgrade, which added $70 to the baseline price), you can rest easy knowing that you're getting great performance for your investment. With a Penryn processor and 3GB of memory, this system should meet the needs of most. Gamers should look elsewhere, however. The LifeBook A6120 is customizable, but Fujitsu does not offer any discrete graphics.
The battery lasted nearly two hours on our demanding DVD drain test, but in anecdotal testing, we found that number to be pretty accurate. Under normal use, we found the battery died at the two-hour mark, give or take a few minutes.
Fujitsu covers the system with a one-year warranty. Support is available through a 24-7, toll-free phone line, and technicians can connect to your computer over the Internet to diagnose problems. Standard FAQs and driver downloads also are available. Adding an extra year of service costs $100, and upgrading to next-business-day on-site service is an additional $50 per year. Fujitsu is also unique among laptop vendors in offering a no-questions-asked Screen Damage Protection Plan that costs $150 for one year and $383 for three years.