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Fujitsu LifeBook LH530 review: Fujitsu LifeBook LH530

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While mostly a deep shiny speckled black (or red, depending on your choice), upon opening the LifeBook LH530 you're treated to a combination of gloss and matte black, the subtle curves giving a regal appearance to an otherwise plain laptop.

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7.5

Fujitsu LifeBook LH530

The Good

Decent battery life.

The Bad

Tiny touch padLimited portsHopeless speakers.

The Bottom Line

The LH530 is one step up from entry level — it's a capable laptop that Fujitsu has cut some corners on to keep costs down. If your needs aren't that great, you could do much worse than having one of these; but if you want greater flexibility, you're going to have to spend a bit more.

Just like the SH530, the keys on the keyboard are closer together than your typical island style found on most laptops these days, although it does have a step down on the left and right of each key to help you find where you are by touch.

Fujitsu still sadly carries on its tiny touch-pad tradition here, making it feel cramped and inflexible compared to the competition. There are status lights down the bottom left, and a power button at the top right, but apart from the obligatory stickers telling you what's inside, the LH530 is decidedly plain, with no dedicated media or shortcut buttons. This seems to be a trend — they seem to be either gone entirely, or at the very most moved to become function keys — only the large desktop replacements have a dedicated row.

The 14.1-inch, 1366x768 glossy screen looks fine enough; however, as is far too common with laptops, the speakers let the team down — the LH530 struggles to achieve decent volume, clarity or anything resembling quality. We'd advise you to bring your own speakers or headphones if you intend to listen to music, these speakers are merely functional at best.

Around the outside most ports are a little limited — the most notable omission being HDMI. Three USB ports are present, but integrated eSATA is not, there's no ExpressCard slot and the Ethernet port is only 100Mb. You still get VGA out, headphone and microphone jacks and a DVD+-RW, but somehow it feels the SH530 got the raw end of the deal.

Then again, it is a budget laptop — inside it's powered by a Core i3 processor clocked at 2.13GHz, it has 2GB RAM, a 320GB HDD, and its graphics are powered by ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 5430. While it does have Bluetooth, its wireless is limited to 2.4GHz 802.11n — 5GHz is not supported here.

Running off Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, Fujitsu has bundled the ever-present Microsoft Office trial with the LH530, but also thrown in CyberLink PowerDVD 8, CyberLink YouCam, Roxio Creator LJ and Windows Live Essentials, keeping the laptop reasonably light compared to its competitors — always a good thing.

Performance

Entry-level graphics have come a long way, with the Radeon HD 5430 spitting out a score of 3489 in 3DMark06. This isn't blazingly fast, but it should handle some older games, such as Left 4 Dead quite well.

The PCMark05 score of 5358 bodes well for office tasks and productivity as well, although if things got too hectic you'd be limited by the lack of RAM in the machine.

All of this lead to a passable battery life of two hours, 55 minutes. This is a particularly harsh test — all power-saving features are turned off, screen brightness and volume are set to maximum, and an XviD movie is played back at full screen.

The LH530 is one step up from entry level — it's a capable laptop that Fujitsu has cut some corners on to keep costs down. If your needs aren't that great, you could do much worse than having one of these; but if you want greater flexibility, you're going to have to spend a bit more.