- ✓Sturdy hardware
- ✓widescreen format
- ✓four USB 2.0 ports well spread across three edges of the casing
- ✕Spongy keyboard won’t appeal to all
We normally stick to Fujitsu Siemens’ Lifebook range of notebooks, but the latest Amilo Pro V3205 caught our eye because machines in the Amilo Pro V series are, to quote the company’s web site, “designed to deliver breath-taking performance and best-in-class mobility at very attractive prices.”
At £657 including VAT (from Misco) this is a well-priced notebook, but it needs to deliver excellent value for money to justify the claim.
The mostly black casing of the Amilo Pro V3205 is not unattractive, but more significant than this is the small overall size of this notebook. It’s footprint is pretty much the same as an A4 sheet of paper at 299 mm x 220 mm, and it is 23.9 to 32mm deep. It weighs 1.8kg, so those who need to carry their notebook daily should not be put off by the weight.
The casing is pretty solid. There is some give in the lid section, but the edges are particularly sturdy. There is no catch to hold the screen and keyboard sections of the casing in a locked position, but the two parts do sit together fairly tightly.
Importantly for business users, the Amilo PRO V3205 accommodates a wide screen, and while its 12.1 diagonal inches and 1280 x 800 WXGA resolution may prove insufficient for those needing to view large spreadsheet data sets frequently, it is fine for working on two documents simultaneously and reasonably good for viewing a Web page and working on a document at the same time as long as the Web page does not have a wide format itself.
The display has Fujitsu Siemens’ Crystal View screen overlay, which makes it very reflective. A light sensor sits beneath the display automatically controlling screen brightness depending on surrounding conditions, which should help optimise battery life. You can turn this sensor off and set the screen brightness to your own taste if you prefer.
The keyboard is somewhat spongy and won’t appeal to all tastes, but we found it responsive to use and it is large enough for touch typing. Generally the key layout is unremarkable, with a row of half-height function keys sitting above the number row. Second function key combinations on these give you quick access to features like wireless communications, manual adjustment of screen brightness, system volume and control of the built in optical drive for example for music playback.
There is a blue light to indicate the caps lock is on, just to the left of the caps lock key. While this might sound a little gimmicky we found it useful. The touchpad is wide and responsive, and a small bank of five buttons, also with associated blue lights, provide quick launch services for frequently used applications for email, Web access and media playback as well as a controller to quieten down the already very quiet fan and another controller for the built in Wi-Fi.
The Amilo PRO V3205 incorporates a wide range of ports and connectors. On the left edge of our review model was a single PC Card slot, optical drive (a CD and DVD +/- RW multiformat drive), Ethernet connector and single USB 2.0 port.
The right edge houses two further USB 2.0 ports, modem socket, and IEEE 1394 (FireWire) connector as well as the headphones and microphone connectors (with S/PDIF), and a DVI port. A converter from DVI to standard VGA out is provided.
The removable battery occupies most of the back edge of the casing, but there is still room for a fourth USB 2.0 port and an S-Video out port (for connection to a TV). The front of the casing houses a reader for SD, MultiMedia Card and Memory Stick flash memory cards and a bank of four status lights.
The Amilo PRO V3205 is powered by an Intel Core Solo processor, the T1300, running at 1.66 GHz. This provide the machine with the same 667MHz frontside bus and 2MB of Level 2 cache that Core Duo processors offer, while being restricted in terms of sheer processing power.
There is 512MB of RAM, and our review model had a 60GB hard drive. Both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are included, the latter supplied by Intel’s PRO/Wireless 3945ABG adaptor for ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘g’ type connections. Graphics are catered for by Intel’s 945GM Express chipset.
The provided software bundle includes Norton Internet Security 2005 with Norton Firewall, Fujitsu Siemens Odyssey Client for managing Wi-Fi connections and associated profiles, and the Nero Express 6 CD writing software which includes a backup utility capable of sending data to optical media, a hard drive or networked locations.
The Amilo PRO V3205 is a neat and tidy notebook, with some compelling features.
The backup utility could prove particularly useful for small businesses lacking complex networked backup systems, and the good news is that it is easy to use yet flexible. In addition, the Amilo Pro V3205 offers something many notebooks fail to – four USB 2.0 ports spread across three edges of the machine, and all accessible at the same time.
However those wanting high level security on their notebooks, such as biometrics or smartcard based security systems should look elsewhere.