Standing out among a sea of black, grey and silver, Fujitsu's LifeBook AH530 is a sparkly pearl colour on top and boring old matte black on bottom. If our experiences with the bottom rung MacBook are anything to go by, this white may discolour fairly quickly. Until then, it's quite striking.
Equipped with a 15.6-inch glossy screen, it reaches a resolution of 1366x768, and has the requisite webcam featured at the top. Speakers are sadly worse than standard laptop fare, which easily distort, rarely hitting a decent volume and with high treble push. Even system sounds aren't passable through these things.
The keyboard is pleasant enough to type on, although it flexes a bit while typing. The left and right edge of each key is stepped down, and each key sitting almost flush against the other. The touch pad, however, continues Fujitsu's insistence to keep things tiny and cramped, something we hope it addresses post haste.
Expansion-wise, the AH530 is moderately furnished, with three USB ports, HDMI and VGA ports, gigabit Ethernet, an ExpressCard 34 slot, SD card reader, headphone and microphone jacks and a DVD+-RW drive. While it handles Bluetooth just fine, the Atheros 802.11n chip inside limits its use to 2.4GHz only — 5GHz is not supported.
Internally, it runs off a Core i3 M350 CPU running at 2.27GHz, with 2GB RAM, a 500GB hard drive and visuals are powered by Intel HD graphics. Windows 7 Professional 64-bit is the operating system of choice, and Fujitsu has bundled in Norton Internet Security, CyberLink PowerDVD 8 and YouCam, Roxio Creator LJ, and that's about it. It's a refreshingly light bundle, which should greatly reduce your uninstallation-fest that's usually held after buying a laptop.
Although Intel HD Graphics are nowhere near as bad as Intel's previous solutions, they still can't keep up in the 3D stakes, extracting a score of 1503 out of 3DMark06, less than half the score entry-level solutions from Nvidia and ATI can give. This isn't necessarily a bad thing — if you're not a gamer, Intel graphics are all you need, and will give more battery life.
The PCMark05 score of 5087 marks out the AH530 as a competent performer as far as web, office and productivity tasks are concerned, although the 2GB RAM will likely hold you back.
While everything is just on the cusp of passable at this point, battery life is what pushes the AH530 into failure territory. With screen brightness and volume set to maximum, all power-saving features turned off and an XviD video file played back at full screen, the AH530 lasted only one hour and 19 minutes, significantly less than it should given the integrated graphics and what you can get elsewhere.
The AH530 cuts a striking figure due to its colour scheme, but there's just been one too many corners cut, especially in terms of battery life.