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Fujitsu Siemens LifeBook S-6120

  • Editors' rating
    7.9 Very good

Pros

  • Attractive, lightweight design
  • 802.11b and Bluetooth built in
  • good range of modular bay options.

Cons

  • Moderate battery life
  • Poor 3D performance from integrated graphics
  • relatively expensive.

Fujitsu Siemens has a reputation for producing stylish and well-featured notebooks, although they're not always the most affordable systems. The new LifeBook S series, some of which feature Intel's Centrino technology, is not going to shake that reputation, if our experience of a pre-production sample of the S-6120 model is any indication. This Centrino system, which provides 802.11b and Bluetooth along with a zippy 1.6GHz Pentium M processor, comes in at £1,499 (ex. VAT), which is a little more than we'd like.

Design & features
The hardware design is hardly revolutionary, but there's enough here to make the S-6120 feel special. Fujistu Siemens' attractive two-tone blue and silver casing reappears. A long plastic section along the top of the lid adds a little something extra, even if it shows greasy finger marks rather more than the metal case itself does. There's a good, strong catch that holds the lid in place when closed yet is easy to release one-handed. The S-6120's 29.3cm by 23.6cm footprint and 13.3in. display put the S-6120 into the category of smaller notebooks, although at 3.5cm thick it's a little taller off the table than some. With nothing but a weight saver in the drive bay the S-6120 weighs 1.7kg. With the CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive (with which our sample was supplied) in place, the weight rises to 2kg, which is still pretty portable. Not surprisingly for such a small and slim line notebook, there's no internal floppy drive -- if you want one, you can buy it as an option for the modular bay. The same goes for a second battery, a dual-Type II/Type III PC Card adapter or a second hard drive. Our review sample was supplied with a 40GB hard drive, but a 60GB unit is also available. The S-6120 is reasonably well supplied with I/O options. There are two USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire port, modem and Ethernet connectors, VGA out, line in, headphone and microphone connectors. There's also a single Type II PC Card slot, which can be used for writing to mass storage devices, or to a variety of flash media if you have the requisite adapter cards. If you want to connect to non-USB devices, then the port replicator might be an additional investment. This adds VGA, serial, parallel and PS/2 connectors, along with a further two USB 2.0 ports and an Ethernet port that replaces the one the covered up by the replicator when in situ. The screen is impressive. It is small, as you'd expect given the overall size of the S6120, but somehow looks larger than its 13.3in. diagonal. The 1,024 by 768 pixel native resolution is fine for everyday tasks, and the graphics controller can send up to 1,600 by 1,200 to an external monitor if required. Graphics are handled by the integrated Intel i855 chipset, with video memory being poached from the main system as required. Having both 802.11b and Bluetooth on board might seem like wireless overload, but in fact both can have quite different uses. Wi-Fi (802.11b) is the serious wireless networking solution, while Bluetooth is useful for sending data to and from a mobile phone or handheld, and can be handy for ad hoc networking and file sharing in meetings. Fujutsu Siemens provides its own software, Plugfree to manage Bluetooth connections. This is heavy on visuals and sounds, but allows you to identify types of connected device (handheld, headset, email and Web access for example) using icons, and quickly switch between them. It also comes with a chat client.

Performance & battery life
With its 1.6GHz Pentium M processor and 256MB of SDRAM (expandable to 1GB), you'd expect pretty good application performance from the LifeBook S-6120, and it doesn't disappoint. A (mainstream application-based) Business Winstone 2001 score of 52.3 is very good. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get the (high-end application-based) Content Creation Winstone 2002 test to complete, but you should have no problem running moderately demanding tasks on this system. The only question mark, of course, is 3D performance from the 855GM chipset's integrated graphics: a 3DMark 2001 score of 1,818 is way off the current notebook pace. If you're buying a lightweight notebook, you can probably live without top-notch 3D performance, but you're almost certainly looking for good battery life. Unfortunately, the LifeBook S-6120 is disappointing in this regard -- particularly for a Centrino system: we could only squeeze 2 hours and 47 minutes from the S-6120's 4,000mAh Li-ion battery with the system in desktop mode, which is a long way behind the best Centrino notebooks we've tested. Even so, you should be able to get over three hours' battery life by tweaking the power management settings. Overall, this is a nicely designed and well featured notebook that's light enough to be taken on your travels. The only drawbacks are its moderate battery life and relatively steep price.

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