Fujitsu LifeBook A6030

Though its design isn't groundbreaking, the media-friendly Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 offers home users a thorough feature set, gorgeous display, and strong performance at a competitive price.


7.5
CNET Rating
7.0
User Rating


The boxy, slate-grey Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 didn't exactly catch our eye when it rolled into our offices. But after spending a little time with the machine, we found something in the laptop to please every type of user. The laptop's 15.4-inch display is a delight for movie watchers (though the reflective screen coating might turn off some users), and its full sized keyboard will please productivity hounds. Tech fiends will be fascinated (or possibly confounded) by the A6030's unique touch pad, while speed demons will appreciate the laptop's competitive benchmark performance. And accounting types will love that the AU$1,799 LifeBook A6030 costs less than similar systems. The LifeBook A6030 is not without flaws -- for example, it lacks a Webcam for video chats and its battery life, while acceptable, could be longer. But these relatively minor quibbles wouldn't keep us from recommending the LifeBook A6030 for home users who want a media-friendly laptop at a competitive price.

The LifeBook A6030 feels very solid overall, with sturdy screen hinges and a thick, square case that can be an imposing presence on your desktop. Its 2.95 kilogram weight places it squarely in the middle of the midsize category, though it's heavier than similar systems with 15.4-inch screens, such as the HP Pavilion dv6500t and the Sony VAIO FZ180E.

We've looked at a lot of 15.4-inch displays lately, and most produce decent colour saturation and contrast. The "colour-enhanced" display on the LifeBook A6030, however, puts those other screens to shame. Its pitch blacks and deep, rich colours make movie watching a pleasure. Though the screen's 1,280x800 native resolution is merely average for its category, it nevertheless produced stunning still and moving images without sacrificing text readability. Of course, there's a small trade off: the Fujitsu's glossy screen finish, partly responsible for its depth of colour, can be distractingly reflective, particularly if you're working with a light source or window behind you. There is no option for a matte screen finish. The only real negative about the LifeBook A6030's display is the lack of a Webcam in the bezel -- a feature that's fairly common among midsize laptops.

The Fujitsu LifeBook A6030's broad case has plenty of room to accommodate a full-size keyboard. Typing was comfortable, although we'd prefer just a little more key travel. The board also flexes slightly, which didn't bother us but could prove annoying for particularly heavy-handed typists.

The laptop's mouse buttons are well-sized; we like that the tiny fingerprint reader is nestled between the mouse buttons and doubles as a scroll key (just drag your finger across it while on a Web page or lengthy document). The final feature of note on the keyboard deck is a row of seven buttons: two control volume, and the remaining five are quick-launch buttons that can easily be mapped to the application of your choice.

In keeping with Intel's Centrino Duo platform, the Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 incorporates 802.11a/g/n, though of course to take advantage of the spec you'll need a Draft N router. As peripheral hounds, we love the extra USB port on the A6030 and appreciate that the five ports are distributed around the case to prevent cord crowding. We also appreciate the support for both PC Cards and ExpressCards, which means you won't have to sacrifice the PC Cards you already own in order to take advantage of the latest expansion card technology. And thank goodness for the headphone jack: the laptop's stereo speakers produce heavily treble sound, and the sound quality is disappointingly tinny even at moderate volumes.

On CNET' mobile benchmarks, the $1,799 Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 performed in line with other 15-inch laptops based on the Centrino Duo platform. Its performance equalled or exceeded that of the pricier Sony VAIO FZ180E and only slightly trailed that of the HP Pavilion dv6500t, which included a higher-end processor and discrete graphics. Even with heavy media multitasking, the distinctions would likely be imperceptible; performance-wise, the LifeBook A6030 delivers good bang for your buck.

The Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 didn't wow us quite as much when it came to battery life, though its two hour, two minute life on our DVD drain test -- exactly the same as the Sony VAIO FZ180 -- falls within the acceptable range. Laptops with previous-generation components, such as the Dell Inspiron E1505 and even the Fujitsu LifeBook A6025, lasted about 30 minutes longer, though of course you sacrifice some performance. Our DVD battery drain test is especially gruelling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.


Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv6500t
958
Sony VAIO VGN-FZ180E
1,016
Fujitsu LifeBook A6030
1,042
Dell Inspiron E1505
1,128

Adobe Photoshop CS2 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv6500t
261
Fujitsu LifeBook A6030
272
Dell Inspiron E1505
282
Sony VAIO VGN-FZ180E
308

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
HP Pavilion dv6500t
185
Sony VAIO VGN-FZ180E
194
Fujitsu LifeBook A6030
203
Dell Inspiron E1505
215

DVD battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Dell Inspiron E1505
154
Fujitsu LifeBook A6025
149
Fujitsu LifeBook A6030
122
Sony VAIO VGN-FZ180E
122
HP Pavilion dv6500t
108


System configurations:

Fujitsu LifeBook A6030
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 120GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

Sony VAIO FZ180E
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

HP Pavilion dv6500t
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.2GHz Intel Core Duo T7500; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB Nvidia 8400M GS; 200GB Toshiba 4,200rpm

Dell Inspiron E1505
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon x1400; 100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

Fujitsu LifeBook A6025
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo T2450; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 224MB Mobile Intel 945GM Express; 120GB Fujitsu 5,400rpm

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johns596
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johns596 posted a review   

The Good:This is the quietest notebook I've ever seen. The processor fan and hard drive are barely audible. Overall build quality is very impressive, and the display is simply awesome. Wireless works really well too.

The Bad:Battery life could be better. I get about 2.5 hours max with general use like web surfing, e-mail, etc. As mentioned already above, the keyboard has some flex. I returned my 1st unit because I felt it was excessive, but my 2nd unit is much better. I would say it is comparable to an HP dv6500t as far as keyboard flex.

Very nice notebook. I would've given it higher marks if not for the keyboard flex. The CNET review was "spot on" when they made mention of this.




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