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Compared with the rounded edges and glossy black exteriors of other laptops in our sub-$1,000 roundup, the Fujitsu LifeBook A6110 looks decidedly square. We're willing to look past the boxy design--indeed, we have in the past--because the LifeBook A series offers one of the most thorough feature sets available in a mainstream laptop. But you'll have to look past more than square edges with the $999 LifeBook A6110; the laptop's scores on our benchmark performance tests ranged from top of its class to bottom of the pile, and it barely survived an hour and a half on our battery drain tests. If you have $1,000 to spend and want a sleekly designed laptop, look to the Gateway M-1618 or the Sony VAIO CR120; if you want the fastest performance of our low-cost systems, look to the Lenovo 3000 N200. What the LifeBook A6110 offers above the competition are comfort with its full-size keyboard and broad, beautiful 15.4-inch display, and flexibility with room for lots of peripherals and multiple expansion-card choices.
|Price as reviewed/starting price||$999/$799|
|Processor||1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250|
|Memory||2GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||160GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel GMA X3100|
|Chipset||Intel 965GM Express|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.4 inches|
|System weight/weight with AC adapter||6.5/7.4 pounds|
The LifeBook A6110 feels very solid overall, with sturdy screen hinges and a spill-resistant keyboard to stand up against everyday abuse. Its square case is an imposing presence, however. Its 6.5-pound weight is the heaviest in our sub-$1,000 roundup, and at 1.6 inches thick, it's also the bulkiest. We much prefer the slimmer profile of the Gateway M-1618, which is almost the same weight but measures only 1.3 inches thick; even more portable are the Sony VAIO CR120 and Lenovo 3000 N200, though both these models feature smaller, 14.1-inch screens.
The LifeBook A6110's 15.4-inch display, with a fairly typical native resolution of 1,280x800, produces remarkable color saturation and contrast. Watching movies was a pleasure, and both text and icons looked sharp. Of course, there's a small trade-off: The screen's glossy finish, partly responsible for its depth of color, can be distractingly reflective, particularly if you're working with a light source or window behind you. There is no option for a matte screen finish. A Webcam on the display bezel allows for hassle-free video chatting.
Within the broad case of the LifeBook A6110 there's plenty of room to accommodate a full-size keyboard. Typing was comfortable, although we'd prefer just a little more key travel and a little less key noise. The board also flexes slightly, which didn't bother us but could prove annoying for particularly heavy-handed typists. While costlier versions of the LifeBook A Series incorporate the Fujitsu's unique "point and write" touch pad (in which the touch pad becomes an input tablet for handwriting), the LifeBook A6110 includes just a traditional touch pad. The laptop's mouse buttons are well-sized; we like the center scroll key that lets you take a break from dragging your finger around the pad. The final feature of note on the keyboard deck is a row of seven buttons: two control volume, and the remaining five are quick-launch buttons that can easily be mapped to the application of your choice.
|Fujitsu LifeBook A6110||Average for mainstream category|
|Video||VGA, S-Video||VGA, S-Video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||Five USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and a multiformat memory card reader||Four USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire, and a multiformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||PC Card, ExpressCard||PC Card|
|Networking||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
You'll find pretty much every port and connection you'll need, including Draft N wireless, around the Fujitsu's large case. Among similarly priced systems, the LifeBook A6110 offers the most USB ports--a real boon for users with lots of peripherals. The laptop also is one of the few to incorporate both a PC Card and an ExpressCard slot, which means you won't have to sacrifice the PC Cards you already own in order to take advantage of the latest expansion-card technology. And thank goodness for the headphone jack: The laptop's stereo speakers produce faint, treble sound.
Fujitsu stocked the $999 version of the LifeBook A6110 with a previous-generation Core 2 Duo T5250 (1.5GHz) processor and 2GB of RAM on top of Intel's latest chipset and integrated Intel GMA X3100 graphics. The components produce a wide range of scores on CNET Labs' performance benchmarks. The LifeBook A6110 did quite well on the Photoshop test, finishing ahead of (or on par with) similarly priced systems, including the Lenovo 3000 N200 ($984), the Toshiba Satellite A215-S7437 ($899), and the Gateway M-1618 ($899). But the Fujitsu's performance was average to below average on other portions of our benchmarks, where it fell in the middle of the pack for multitasking and dragged on our processor-intensive iTunes encoding test (no surprise, considering the LifeBook A6110 has the slowest clock speed of all the sub-$1,000 systems). However, we didn't notice any particular lag when using the LifeBook A6110 for typical home computing tasks, including watching a movie and surfing the Web.
The Fujitsu LifeBook A6110 lasted just more than an hour and a half on our DVD battery drain test--one of the worst overall battery scores in our $1,000 roundup and the lowest for an Intel-based system. For a laptop that's still reasonably portable, we'd have expected at least 2 hours on a charge. Of course, our DVD battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect even longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.
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.
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Fujitsu LifeBook A6110
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Intel Mobile 965GM Express; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.9GHz AMD Turion 64x2 TL-58; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon x1270; 250GB Western Digital 5,400rpm
Lenovo 3000 N200
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Mobile Intel 965GM; 80GB Seagate Momentus 5,400rpm
Sony VAIO VGN-CR120
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 120GB Hitachi 5,400rpm
Toshiba Satellite A215-S7437
Windows Vista Home Premium; 1.9GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile TL-58; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB ATI Radeon X1200; 200GB Toshiba 4,200rpm