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Fujitsu Siemens LifeBook S6420 review: Fujitsu Siemens LifeBook S6420

The S6420 is an ultraportable laptop designed for the mobile professional. It's light, relatively small, and best of all, it has a built-in 3G modem so you can go online almost anywhere. This £1,000 laptop has substantial security capabilities and an 'Eco Mode' to boot, so it could be the right one for you

Rory Reid
4 min read

The S6420 is an ultraportable laptop designed for the mobile professional. It's light, relatively small, and best of all, it has a built-in 3G modem so you can go online almost anywhere. You can pick one up now for approximately £1,000.

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7.5

Fujitsu Siemens LifeBook S6420

The Good

Mobile broadband module; spill-proof keyboard, performance.

The Bad

Battery life; mediocre graphics capability.

The Bottom Line

We like the S6420 for its solid build quality, performance, security and mobile broadband capability. It's a little pricey, but if you require a laptop with its substantial security capabilities, it's well worth a look

Design
The LifeBook S6420 is pretty much identical to its predecessor, the S6410. It's a compact, lightweight laptop that tips the scales at 1.75Kg and measures 314mm wide by 234mm high by 22mm deep. It's not as small as a netbook, but it's still portable enough to carry around all day.

Recently, we likened the LifeBook S6420 to a mullet hairstyle because its design is part serious, part fun. With the lid closed, it's got a very serious look about it, mostly because of the staid-looking Fujitsu Siemens Computers logo and the matte black finish. Open the lid, however, and its party central, sort of. The keyboard section has a contemporary white finish, which works well against the matte black screen bezel. It's no MacBook, but it's certainly no minger.

Business users and MI5 agents will appreciate the fingerprint reader between the mouse selector buttons. A dedicated lock button above the keyboard allows you to lock the PC instantaneously and -- provided you've enrolled your fingerprints with the security software -- only a swipe of the correct finger will unlock it.

Beside the lock button, you'll also find an "Eco Mode" button. Press this and the laptop will enable a set of parameters designed to save power. The screen brightness sets to around 40 per cent and the CD/DVD drive is disabled -- as are the PC Card and memory card readers, wired LAN and Firewire ports.

Ordinary consumers -- people who find the laptop abandoned on a London Tube train -- should appreciate the front-facing audio ports, which minimise the likelihood of cables getting in the way. There's also an integrated DVD rewriter drive on the right side, plus a modem port, 3 USBs and a D-Sub video port.

Features
Whereas the LifeBook S6410 was a Centrino laptop, its successor is certified as Centrino 2. The new badge indicates it has a newer, more efficient CPU, better graphics and a new wireless adaptor that's compatible with the high-speed 802.11n protocol.

Our review sample used an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400, clocked at 2.53GHz. This is a slightly unusual choice of CPU, seeing as T-series Core 2 Duos are designed with desktop replacement and entry-level gaming laptops in mind. Fujitsu Siemens also produces a version of the S6420 with P-series 'power-optimised' chips running at 2.4Ghz and 2.26Ghz, which we think would be more suitable.

The Intel GM45 chipset is standard across all versions of the S6420. This supports fast DDR3 memory, so it's no surprise to see 2GB of DDR3 800 memory nestling inside S6420. The laptop supports Intel Turbo Memory -- a dedicated batch of flash memory that helps improve application load times -- but it wasn't present on our review sample. Not to worry, though. The jury's still out as to whether it makes any difference to peformance.

Fujitsu Siemens has designed the S6420 to favour those who are often on the road. It can connect to 802.11b/g Wi-Fi networks and to high-speed 802.11n networks courtesy of anIntel Wireless WiFi Link 5300 AGN adaptor. Better still, it comes with an optional UMTS/HSUPA module that allows mobile broadband access. Just put a 3G SIM card into the slot behind the battery, launch the connect software and Bob's your Web-surfing Uncle. Make sure you tell your mobile provider you're doing this so you don't get hit with a huge data bill.


The S6420's 13.3-inch display is a good one, with a 1,280x800-pixel resolution. Interestingly, Fujitsu Siemens' official spec sheet refers to this as an 'LED glare display', which is pretty apt. The glossy finish is prone to reflecting light back in your face, making it almost impossible to see what's on the screen unless you're indoors.

Storage in our S6420 review sample came courtesy of a 160GB hard drive. We're told a 64GB solid state drive is on the cards, along with models that use 120GB and 320GB drives. A DVD super multi drive capable of writing to both CDs and DVDs is supplied as standard.

Performance
The S6420 has a pretty potent CPU, so it's no surprise that it scored 5,045 in our PCMark 2005 benchmark. For reference, the Asus G50 gaming laptop scored 5,774, although it did have twice as much RAM. The S6420's graphics performance was adequate -- for this class of laptop. It racked up 806 in 3DMark 2006.

Battery life wasn't quite what we expected it to be. The S6420 lasted a mere 1 hour and 25 minutes in our BatteryEater classic test, which isn't great considering the machine is designed to be used -- to a large degree -- away from the mains.

Conclusion
We like the S6420 for its solid build quality, performance, security and mobile broadband capability. It's a little pricey, but if you require a laptop with its substantial security capabilities, it's well worth a look.

Edited by Marian Smith

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