by Kevin O’Brien
The Fujitsu LifeBook A6030is a midrange 15.4 desktop replacement notebook, competing with its solid build quality and extremely vibrant display. Although it has features usually reserved for business notebooks such as a fingerprint reader or its pen writing input, the laptop appears to be more geared at the younger crowd. Students heading off to a college dorm will enjoy features like the spill resistant keyboard, multimedia remote control, and hard drive shock sensor protecting the drive if carried into class powered up.
The A6030 can be optioned out either a 1.8 or 2.0ghz Core 2 Duo, 2 WXGA displays of varying brightness, 1 to 4GB of memory, ExpressCard TV Tuner, multimedia remote, and a writing capable touchpad.
This review model had the following options:
- Screen: 15.4-inch screen Color-Enhanced Crystal View WXGA (1280 x 800)
- Finish: Glossy
- Brightness: 450 nits
- Contrast ratio: 600:1
- Viewing Angle
- Side to Side = 120 degrees
- Up and Down = 90 degrees
- Processor: 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300
- Hard Drive: 120 GB hard drive (SATA, 5400RPM)
- Memory: 2GB RAM (PC5300, 667 MHz, DDR2 SDRAM) — 4GB max memory
- Optical Drive: DVD+-R Double layer / DVD+-RW Drive
- Ports and Slots: Five USB 2.0, one FireWire 400 port, one ExpressCard 54, one PC-Card Slot, one S-Video, one VGA, one SD card reader, headphone / line-out, microphone-in, modem, 1Gb Ethernet
- Wireless: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) Intel 4965AGN
- Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
- Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
- Dimensions: 14.17″ x 10.43″ x 1.55″ (Width x Depth x Height)
- Weight: 6.6 pounds
Build and Design
After slipping the notebook out of its protective shipping baggie, you are greeted with its very refined shell. It has beveled surfaces all around the case smoothing off its sharp edges, a mild metallic grey finish, and a very modest brand/model label on the cover. This allows the laptop to just blend into the crowd, not sticking out like a Mohawk in public appearances.
The build quality is very sturdy with few flexing surfaces. The palmrest is extremely hard, as if it was a solid chunk of steel supporting your wrists. The display cover gives ample protection for the LCD, holding up to firm presses on the back of the cover without showing any ripples on the screen. When the display is closed, you get a positive smooth click from the latch, and the screen held firmly shut. To reopen the cover, you press the release button in (no sliding required!), and you are greeted with a silent action without any harsh noises sometimes associated with a sliding release.
On the bottom of the laptop, one of the first things to stand out is the smooth fabric pads adhered to the cover in 2 spots. From what I can tell, these are right below the ram and processor, keeping the hottest parts from touching your skin if you had your laptop on your lap of all places. This is a nice addition, which I have never seen on any other brand of laptop. Some users will also notice that the style of battery used with this laptop means that extended batteries which stick out the rear will not be an option. For travelers who are far from an outlet, or students with classes lined up throughout the day, this is a problem worth noting.
I feel that the strongest feature of this laptop is its blinding vibrant display. On its lowest setting was still brighter than my ThinkPad at 70%. This made the display readable outside, where other screens might be washed out by the bright sun (just make sure you aren’t blinded by a reflection from the glossy screen!). Viewing angles were more than adequate, with no color distortion in normal viewing ranges. Once you move out to the extremes though, especially with a steep angle from below, colors had a tendency to warp/invert. Backlight bleed was minimal, but only visible at maximum backlight brightness.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard and touchpad I found to be this laptop’s biggest weakness. The keyboard had way too much bouncy movement and flex. The framework that the keyboard is supported by isn’t on the same level as most of the keyboard, giving it room to flex while being pressed. With each keystroke the board dips down slightly with an echo and trampoline feel. I found this very distracting and annoying, and not expected on a laptop of this overall build quality.
The touchpad also turned out to be quite bad with its sporadic finger tracking. It had no adjustment for pressure sensitivity, which is uncommon for touchpads. This meant I had to press very firmly on the tracking surface; otherwise it would stop mid-line breaking my flow. Simple tasks such as navigating menu options were torture, as I kept over or under shooting selections.
This particular configuration also included a pen for small drawing, or signing documents. This feature took a long time to get used to, and its accuracy was quite poor. Signatures for example turned out looking like scribbles if you weren’t very careful. Printing did not turn out well either since it still picks up lines even if the pen is hovering slightly over the surface. Cursive writers have a better chance at creating legible writing. When I try to print my name the lines trail after each letter, where the surface still picks up the pen tip in close proximity.
The speakers on this laptop are located right in front of the palmrest. Sound quality was about average, and volume levels were able to easily fill a small room when watching a movie. I did not notice any crackling or other distortion sounds during my review of the laptop.
For all uses not including gaming, the Fujitsu A6030 performed very well. Boot times were never lagging, and once a few bloated pre-installed programs were removed, the laptop was at the desktop at an idle state in no time. With its beautiful screen, my primary testing revolved around watching movies on this laptop. No matter the bitrate of the HD movie, playback was flawless without a hiccup (which was expected for the processor in this machine). Below are the benchmarks to compare this laptops performance to others in its market segment:
Super Pi comparison results:
NotebookTimeFujitsu LifeBook A6030 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)0m 59sToshiba Qosmio F45 (1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450, Intel X3100)1m 17sDell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)0m 58sLenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)1m 01sLenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)0m 59sHP dv2500t (1.80GHz Intel 7100)1m 09sLenovo ThinkPad T61 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T7300)0m 59sLenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.00GHz Core 2 Duo T7200)1m 03sToshiba Satellite P205-S6287 (1.73 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel T5300)1m 24sToshiba Satellite A205 (1.66GHz Core 2 Duo)1m 34sHP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52)2m 05sHP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T2400)0m 59s
PCMark05 comparison results:
NotebookPCMark05 ScoreFujitsu LifeBook A6030 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300)4,111 PCMarksToshiba Qosmio F45 (1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450, Intel X3100)3,261 PCMarksLenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)4,153 PCMarksLenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)3,987 PCMarksLenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB)4,189 PCMarksHP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)4,234 PCMarksFujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400)3,487 PCMarksAlienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX)5,597 PCMarksSony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)3,637 PCMarksAsus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400)3,646 PCMarks
3DMark05 comparison results:
Notebook3D Mark 05 ResultsFujitsu LifeBook A6030 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)919 3DMarksToshiba Qosmio F45 (1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450, Intel X3100)845 3DMarksDell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)3,116 3DMarksHP Compaq 6510b (2.20GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, Intel X3100)916 3DMarksHP Compaq 6515b (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1270)871 3DMarksHP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)2,013 3DMarksDell Inspiron e1705 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400)1,791 3DMarksAcer TravelMate 8204WLMi (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 256MB)4,236 3DMarksAlienware Aurora M-7700(AMD Dual Core FX-60, ATI X1600 256MB)7,078 3DMarksLenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)2,092 3DMarksAsus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI x700 128 MB)2,530 3DMarksFujitsu n6410 (1.66 GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB)2,273 3DMarksDell XPS M1210 (2.16 GHz Core Duo, nVidia Go 7400 256MB)2,090 3DMarks
3DMark06 comparison results:
Notebook3DMark06 ScoreFujitsu LifeBook A6030 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100)552 3DMarksDell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB)1,408 3DMarksSamsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU)1,069 3DMarksAsus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB)2,344 3DMarksAlienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB2,183 3DMarksFujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB)2,144 3DMarksSamsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB)1,831 3DMarksAsus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB)1,819 3DMarksHP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400)827 3DMarksSony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400)794 3DMarksSamsung R20 (1.73GHz T2250 and ATI 1250M chipset / GPU)476 3DMarks
To test the battery I disabled all power-down features (including HD spindown) and set the screen brightness to 50%. I then had an active instant messaging program on in the background to keep the wireless card active throughout the entire test. With these conditions I made it to the 4:00 mark before the machine went into hibernate mode at 3%.
The battery for this laptop comes in one size only (6 cell, 4000mah), and fits below the palmrest. People wanting extended battery use will need to purchase an additional battery, since the battery socket design does not allow for larger extended batteries. I was not really concerned with this fact, as the standard battery life was very respectable for a notebook of this size.
I found the Intel 4965AGN to work perfectly on my home network, and not once did it drop off unexpectedly. I didn’t have any problem using the laptop around my house through different brick walls, although at times the signal % was quite low. Bluetooth was also included on this laptop, connecting easily with my headset, cell phone, and T60 laptop.
External Connections and Features
Left side: Touchpad writing pen slot and optical drive
Front: Wireless ON/OFF switch and microphone/headphone jacks
Right: PC Card Slot, Expresscard Slot, SD Card reader, USB Port, Power connection
Rear: Kensington lock slot, 2 USB ports, RJ45 Lan plug, S-Video, VGA, 2 USB ports, RJ11 Modem plug
Heat and Noise
The cooling system on the A6030 was able to easily handle a wide range of processor loads with minimal noise and heat through the bottom of the laptop. Under normal use of internet browsing and chatting on instant messenger the laptop stayed cool and quiet. For the first 15-20 minutes the fans were off as it warmed up, but then would cycle on and off from then on. Fan noise was barely above a whisper, so you won’t stick out in a quiet classroom. Under more stressing activities like running the benchmarks for this review, fan noise was louder, but not obtrusive. The fabric pads mentioned in the build section helped a bit, but I have never been burned by other laptops… so it was a hard comparison to make. The soft padding did make my legs feel like royalty compared to standard laptops though.
Windows Vista Home Premium came installed on this laptop, giving the usual sluggish performance out of the box. After a couple of days things seemed to calm down in relation to background activities, giving the machine a bit of a performance boost. The laptop didn’t seem to have as much trial/freebie clutter as most machines, but I did clean up factory things to prep the machine for my own software. It wasn’t difficult at all to remove these programs, so it shouldn’t provide much hassle for the average user if they feel the need.
One aspect of the included software that many will enjoy is the physical restore discs included with the machine. A handful of recovery discs was a nice gesture with many companies now moving to restore software on the machine itself.
While I do think that the performance and absolutely beautiful screen make the A6030a killer laptop, the quirky keyboard and touchpad spoil this review as a whole. Since user control is very important with any laptop, clunky interfaces can mess up even the best machines. Barring some sort of software update for this touchpad that allowed for better sensitivity adjustment so tracking wasn’t as sporadic, I would recommend not opting for the Point and Write feature, in hopes that the standard version would have better control.
If you prefer to use an external keyboard and mouse then the Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 makes an excellent desktop replacement.
- Beautifully vivid, blindingly bright display
- Solid build quality and little flexing of the chassis
- Good non-gaming performance
- Keyboard flex
- Inaccurate quirky touchpad
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