The Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 stands out from the pack by featuring a speedy Intel Next Generation Centrino Duo processor (a first for the "A" series), excellent wireless performance, and Fujitsu's unique Point-and-Write technology that adds Tablet PC functionality to the touchpad. Priced at $1,349, the A6030 is an excellent productivity machine, but we wish it weighed less and lasted longer on a charge.
Weighing in at a hefty 6.6 pounds, the A6030 sports a plain metallic-gray color and a spacious, spill-resistant keyboard that makes typing a smooth, pleasurable experience. Above the keyboard are two quick-launch buttons, My Home and Web Search, for quickly accessing a user-defined homepage and search engine. Adjacent to these are two volume keys and three additional programmable buttons that come premapped to boot up Calculator, Notepad, and Windows Mobility Center.
Built into the touchpad is Fujitsu's Point-and-Write technology, which lets users jot notes into Windows Journal using the included stylus. Surprisingly, writing on the relatively small touchpad felt quite natural; rarely did we feel as though it lacked sufficient height or width. Although there was a small learning curve (adjusting to the Point-and-Write's loose strokes was a bit tricky), we caught on to the feel of the technology quickly. Within minutes we were writing sentences with ease, swiftly erasing the occasional error and rearranging text with the selection tool. However, you don't get the gesture or pressure inputs found in Vista-powered Tablets. Nestled between the quiet-click mouse buttons is a fingerprint reader for keeping sensitive data secure.
When we popped Batman Begins into the 8X DVD+/-RW DL drive, we were treated to solid visuals on the 15.4-inch (1440 x 900-pixel resolution) Enhanced Crystal View display that looked good from all but the most extreme angles. Skin tones were too red, but we saw rich blacks, and the experience was good overall. Stereo speakers located on the front bezel offered average sound quality.
Ports and connections abound. The A6030 features a PC Card and ExpressCard slot, FireWire, VGA, S-Video, and five USB ports. Unfortunately, four of the five USB ports are located on the back of the notebook, which means you'll have to reach around to the rear of the machine to plug in a device if the port on the right side of the system is occupied. The ExpressCard slot will come in handy if you plan on using the A6030 as your multimedia hub. It supports the optional Fujitsu ExpressCard HD Hybrid TV Tuner ($150), which picks up analog TV, digital TV, and FM radio broadcasts. Fujitsu bundles the A6030 with a remote that makes browsing photos, listening to music, and watching video in Windows Media Center a breeze.
Powered by Intel's latest 2-GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 processor (800-MHz FSB), 2GB of RAM (expandable to 4GB), and a 5,400-rpm, Shock Sensor-protected 120GB hard drive, the A6030 posted a PCMark05 score of 3,961. This indicates that the system can swing just about any productivity task tossed its way, which we confirmed in our daily use of the machine as we worked in Word docs, jumped around multiple open windows, and listened to music through Windows Media Player 11.
The integrated Intel GMA X3100 graphics produced a predictably low 3DMark03 score of 1,689, making the A6030 unsuitable for the latest 3D games but solid enough to keep us shuffling through documents using Windows Flip 3D and enjoying Vista Home Premium's transparencies.
Runtime from the six-cell battery was shockingly low for a desktop replacement that doesn't have discrete graphics; the A6030 lasted just 1 hour and 11 minutes on our DVD rundown test. To counteract the weak endurance, users can order an additional six-cell battery for $98. Conversely, we saw excellent Wi-Fi performance from the 802.11n radio. It produced throughput averages of 17.2 Mbps from 15 feet away from our access point and 14.1 Mbps from 50 feet.
The A6030 comes with a comprehensive software package that includes Adobe Reader 8, a 30-day trial of Norton Internet Security 2007, Roxio Easy Media Creator, Google Desktop, a 60-day Microsoft Office trial, and several of Fujitsu's homegrown utilities. A one-year international limited warranty with toll-free 24/7 technical support is included.
If high-end graphics aren't a priority and you can stay near an outlet, the Fujitsu A6030 will nail the fundamentals with a solid keyboard, plenty of power, and a fine display. And its Point-and-Write technology is a good way to add Tablet-like functionality without too much additional cost.
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