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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.
Designed to handle the huge data hogs that are TV shows, the LifeBook N6210 carries two Fujitsu 100GB hard drives, although they're both low-performance 4,200rpm models; that's enough space to store hundreds of Seinfeld episodes or back up all your data on a separate drive. Also onboard are a midrange 1.86GHz Pentium M processor, 1GB of fast 533MHz memory (the system can hold up to 2GB), and an ATI Mobility Radeon X600 GPU with 128MB of its own memory. The top-of-the-line unit we looked at also came with a double-layer DVD burner. The LifeBook N6210 comes in a few variations with different amounts of RAM and hard drive capacity; find out more in our LifeBook N6000 series review.
It all adds up to solid performance. Though it couldn't keep up with the $2,999 Qosmio G25-AV501 or the $2,549 Pavilion zd8000, the $2,450 LifeBook N6210 turned out SysMark scores well in line with those of the $2,800 VAIO VGN-A690 and the $2,858 Inspiron 9300. Producing only 24.4 frames per second (fps) in Half-Life 2 and 10.10fps in Doom 3, we wouldn't recommend it as a smoking gaming system, but it should be up to most any productivity or multimedia task. A machine this heavy shouldn't stray far from home, and its 4,400mAh battery pack will run for only 1 hour, 51 minutes on a charge.
Fujitsu backs the LifeBook N6210 with a one-year mail-in warranty; upgrading to three years of coverage costs $180, while a year of screen insurance and onsite service adds $150 and $50, respectively. For those in search of DIY fixes, the company's support site has a lot to offer, including software updates, manuals, and even a handy chat screen to converse with a Fujitsu technician. The company has a 24-hour toll-free support line; you can e-mail a question at any time and expect a reply the next day.
|BAPCo's SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
|"Atari Games/Epic Games|
Find out more about how we test Windows notebooks.
Dell Inspiron 9300
Windows XP Media Center; 2GHz Intel Pentium M 760; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Nvidia GeForce Go 6800 256MB; Hitachi Travelstar 5K80 80GB 5,400rpm
Fujitsu LifeBook N6210
Windows XP Home; 1.86GHz Intel Pentium M 750; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon X600 128MB; two Fujitsu MHV2100AT 100GB 4,200rpm
HP Pavilion zd8000
Windows XP Media Center; 3.6GHz Intel Pentium 4 560; 1GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon X600 256MB; Toshiba MK8026GAX 80GB 5,400rpm
Toshiba Qosmio G25
Windows XP Pro; 2GHz Intel Pentium M 760; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce Go 6600 128MB; two Fujitsu MHT2060BH 5,400rpm