We were surprised at how much we like the Fujitsu LifeBook N6470. The unassuming matte-black case on this 17-inch desktop replacement doesn't exactly look luxe, and it lacks such headline-grabbing features as SLI graphics and a high-definition optical drive. (The latter can be chalked up to the death of the HD DVD format; earlier iterations of the N series included an HD DVD drive.) But the more we used it, the more we found ourselves enjoying the LifeBook N6470. Its well-rounded feature set includes a TV tuner, a remote control, and good--though not great--stereo speakers. Movies look beautiful on its display, yet the glossy screen finish doesn't detract from computing. And its price--$1,499 to start, $1,799 for our configuration--is entirely palatable.
The laptop's biggest flaw is its embarrassingly brief battery life, though given its heft we doubt it will see much mobile use. Overall, the Fujitsu LifeBook N6470 offers an affordable and well-balanced media experience that would make a great all-in-one choice for a dorm room or small apartment.
|Price as reviewed / Starting price||$1,799 / $1,499|
|Processor||2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8300|
|Memory||3GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||2 x 250GB at 4,200rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel PM965 Express|
|Graphics||256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||15.9x11.6x1.8 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||17.1 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||10.6 / 11.6 pounds|
The design of the Fujitsu LifeBook N6470 calls to mind the look of the Qosmio G35 from a few years ago: all black, with beveled edges that help minimize the laptop's bulk. And it is bulky: at 10.6 pounds (11.6 pounds with its compact, but dense, power brick), the LifeBook N6470 isn't terribly mobile and will likely move only among rooms in your apartment.
The LifeBook N6470's widescreen display feels more expansive than its 17.1 inches, thanks to the thin bezel and bright (270 cd/m^2) screen. The 1,440x900 native resolution is typical for a screen of this size, though many high-end 17-inch laptops have a resolution of 1,920x1,200. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed watching movies on the N6470, an experience enhanced by Fujitsu's video optimization settings. A "Visual Optimizer" button above the keyboard lets you switch your display to Video Mode, which pumps up color and contrast, adds edge enhancement, and attempts to expand the luminance range of the image. The difference is noticeable; pushing the button in the middle of a movie created a striking contrast between the washed-out look of the PC Mode setting and the rich imagery of Video Mode. Though the screen does feature a glossy finish that helps colors pop, we were impressed by the lack of distracting reflections.
The large case leaves plenty of room for a full-size keyboard with 10-key number pad. The touch pad is offset to the left side of the chassis, with a fingerprint reader nestled between the two mouse buttons. The rest of the keyboard deck is admirably uncluttered: above the keyboard you'll find a volume rocker switch and an on-off switch for the wireless card, plus the aforementioned Visual Optimizer button and a four-way circular switch--similar to an iPod wheel--that switches between media playback controls and application quick-launch controls with the touch of a button.
|Fujitsu LifeBook N6470||Average for desktop replacement category|
|Video||VGA-out, S-Video, HDMI||VGA-out, S-Video, DVI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers with subwoofer,headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||Five USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader||Four USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||PC Card and ExpressCard||PC Card and ExpressCard|
|Networking||Modem, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi||Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The LifeBook N6470's stereo speakers, complete with subwoofer, maintained a respectable balance, though the bass line did get muddy at maximum volume. Also, the maximum volume isn't quite as loud as we've come to expect from a multimedia desktop replacement; though it was enough to fill our small office, it wasn't loud enough to hear in the next room. Other key entertainment features on the LifeBook N6470 include a TV tuner for the laptop's ExpressCard slot and a remote control with an external USB receiver that can also connect to a cable set-top box. But for the lack of a high-definition optical drive (until recently the N series shipped with a now-obsolete HD DVD drive), the LifeBook N6470 could function well as an entertainment system in a dorm room or studio apartment.
With a generous 3GB of RAM, the LifeBook N6470 performed well on CNET Labs' benchmarks, though it trailed similar systems on our Photoshop test. The laptop's video-oriented 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 2600 GPU--from the same family as the GPU found in the HP Pavilion HDX--even produced decent frame rates for gaming, falling just slightly behind the $1,699 Gateway P-6831FX. Overall, while the LifeBook N6470 didn't exactly excel on any of our benchmarks, it demonstrated well-rounded performance for a variety of media, entertainment, and multitasking uses.
We don't generally ask much of a desktop replacement's battery; after all, an 11-pound laptop isn't likely to spend much time away from a power outlet. Still, the LifeBook N6470's 59-minute battery life makes it one of the shortest-lived laptops we've tested. (In fact, it lasted only a few minutes more than laptops with desktop processors, such as the quad-core Xtreme Notebooks 917V Accelerator.)
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.