Review: Fujitsu LifeBook A6210 Notebook PC

When business takes you on the road on an almost daily basis, carrying the lightest notebook possible (such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X200) is a blessing. But for the vast majority of us, our laptops spend the day on a desk, with only the occasional commute from the office to home and back again.

In that case, a larger “desktop replacement” notebook, like the powerful Fujitsu LifeBook A6210, is a better option. It delivers all the creature comforts you would expect for a daily workhorse ‑ fast processor, large screen, full-size keyboard ‑ in a package that’s light enough for occasional travel when duty calls.

With its automotive-like glossy black finish, the LifeBook A6210 is handsome looking without being overly flashy. Measuring 1.7-inches thick, the chunky chassis is larger than some others in this class, but the 6.6-pound weight is in line with other fully loaded desktop replacement models.

The extra thickness allowed Fujitsu to include all the connectivity you’re likely to need, including both a PC Card slot and an ExpressCard slot, a memory card reader, four USB ports, a VGA connector (for an external monitor or projector), four USB ports, a FireWire port and a LAN jack.

The LifeBook A6210 also includes an HDMI port for sending high-def video and audio to an external display, such as an HDTV; as well as an external SATA jack for connecting a high-speed external hard drive. The only missing connector is an old-fashioned modem port; if you still encounter motels that offer only dial-up connectivity, plan on toting along an external USB modem (available for around $35).

Latest Intel Mobile Platform

Under the hood, the LifeBook A6210 is built on Intel’s latest mobile platform, called Centrino 2. The platform supports the latest generation of Core 2 Duo processors and adds a faster front-side bus (1066MHz, up from 800MHz in the previous-generation Centrino solutions), which helps eliminate performance bottlenecks at the system level.

Centrino 2 delivers an improved Wi-Fi wireless chip, embedded Gigabit Ethernet network support and improved graphics processing from the integrated Intel X4500 HD chip. Centrino 2 machines also deliver higher throughput rates for a machine’s hard drive and improved battery life.

The LifeBook A6210 comes with your choice of a 2.26-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor (as in our test unit) or a marginally faster 2.4-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 chip. The machine supports up to 4GB of memory; notably, it’s the faster DDR3 variety running at 1066MHz (the same speed as the front side bus).

You can stick with the integrated Intel graphics that comes standard or opt for a dedicated graphics chip, the ATI Radeon HD 3470, if you need more 3D graphics horsepower. Fujitsu offers 250GB or 320GB hard drives in the LifeBook A6210, and for the optical drive you can choose between a multi-format DVD burner or a Blu-ray high-def reader with DVD and CD writing capabilities.

Thanks to the improvements in the Centrino 2 platform, the LifeBook A6210 delivers demonstrably more speed than a similar Centrino-based business notebook. In fact, we saw a 10- to 15-percent performance boost compared to a machine we tested just a few months ago.

The LifeBook A6210 delivers more than enough oomph to run typical business and productivity applications, as well as more demanding software like image- and video-editing programs. If you opt for the ATI graphics chip, you’ll also be able to use the machine for 3D gaming when work is done.

The battery in the LifeBook A6210 lasted almost two hours in our demanding DVD rundown test, so it should run for about four hours or so per charge in typical usage.

Business-Friendly Features

Beyond the fast underpinnings, the LifeBook A6210 delivers several features that will make your workday more comfortable and productive. Chief among them is the 15.4-inch widescreen display, which delivers stunning colors and clarity. The panel’s 1280×800 resolution produces sharp text, without the tiny-text syndrome common on higher-res LCDs of this size.

Fujitsu LifeBook A6210 Notebook PC
The Fujitsu LifeBook A6210 Notebook PC delivers the creature comforts of a daily workhorse in a package that’s light enough for occasional travel.

Another standout feature is the LifeBook A6210’s full-size, spill-resistant keyboard. It has the positive tactile and audible feedback reminiscent of an electric typewriter’s keyboard, not the spongy feel of a computer keyboard we’ve all learned to accept.

The large touchpad is very responsive, and Fujitsu has included programmable buttons above the keyboard for launching Internet Explorer, Google, the Fujitsu Support Center (which includes the electronic manual, a diagnostic utility and Fujitsu’s support center) as well as three additional applications of your choice. It offers dedicated volume buttons, but no mute button (you’ll need to hit Function-F3 for that).

Other notable business-oriented features include a shock-resistant hard drive to keep your data safe from unexpected bumps, a fingerprint reader to deter unauthorized access to the laptop, plus a Webcam for videoconferencing.

The built-in stereo speakers deliver clean sound, and there’s enough volume to use the LifeBook A6210 as a presentation machine for a group gathered around a conference table. You also get the Fujitsu Display Manager utility, which lets you quickly adjust the machine’s settings for use with a projector or other external display.

Fujitsu offers the machine with either Microsoft Windows Vista Business or Vista Home Premium operating systems. As for software, you get a 90-day subscription to Norton Internet Security; CyberLink’s PowerDVD (for playing back DVDs), PowerProducer (for creating DVDs) and PowerDirector SE (for video editing); Roxio’s Easy Media Creator CD- and DVD-creation suite; plus ArcSoft’s Webcam utility. Fujitsu backs the machine with a one-year warranty and 24/7 tech support.

The Fujitsu LifeBook A6210 starts at around $1,150, which is an attractive price for a Centrino 2 powerhouse with performance and features to spare. If you need a new business PC, this one gives you the comforts of a desktop with the convenience of a portable.

Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.

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