Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Mini UI 3520

Fujitsu Siemens' first netbook has the rather ungainly title of the Amilo Mini UI 3520. I can't say it trips off the tongue very easily, and market share in this rather full area of computing could arguably be said to turn at least in part on such technically irrelevant matters.

Fujitsu Siemens' first netbook has the rather ungainly title of the Amilo Mini UI 3520. I can't say it trips off the tongue very easily, and market share in this rather full area of computing could arguably be said to turn at least in part on such technically irrelevant matters.

Still, let's not get stuck on naming. For around £250 (inc VAT) you get fairly standard netbook specs including an 8.9 inch 1024 x 600 pixel screen, Windows XP Home and 60GB hard drive. There is 1GB of RAM and the processor is Intel's Atom N270. There is a webcam, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The full specs are here.

One quirk of the Amilo Mini UI 3520 is that you can change its white chassis by slipping a second lid section over the top of the white one. This adds a few grams to the weight but lets you personalise the look. There aren't any clips holding the second lid in place, and I'm not sure how well it would stay in place in a bag, though. You get a deep red lid with the netbook and can buy others including a transparent one into which you can put your own photos. The personalisation possibilities are, therefore, endless. Eeek!

There are a couple of USB ports, Ethernet, SD card reader, microphone and headphones slots, VGA out and an ExpressCard slot. This latter is a rarity for a netbook but the rest is par for the course.

So far, so acceptable. But the user ergonomics are a real problem. The mouse buttons are to the left and right of the touchpad rather than being beneath it and while that is not unheard of in netbook territory I don't like it. Worse, and the deal-breaker for me, is the keyboard.

It doesn’t stretch to the full width available and far too much height is lost to speaker grilles. The keyboard was always going to be small, but Fujitsu Siemens seems not to have put any thought into maximising the space available to it. And it has far too much flex.

If Fujitsu Siemens wants to make headway in this crowded area it needs to improve user ergonomics as a matter of urgency.

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