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D Series Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Notebook Review

May 24, 2002



The company positions this model as an entry-level universal notebook. Well, its universalilty comes from the "all-in-one" principle - you don't need any devices to take with it, and the entry level is determined by its characteristics and price.

Technical characteristics of the Amilo D (specification)

  • Processor - Intel® Celeron(TM) 1/1.1 GHz, Intel® Pentium® III 1.1 GHz (the tested model has P III 1.2 GHz)
  • Chipset - VIA PN133 (VT8603 (North Bridge), VT686B (South Bridge)) 133 MHz FSB
  • RAM - 256 MBytes PC133 DRAM + 1 x SODIMM (expandable to 384 MBytes, 256 MBytes on the tested model)
  • Display - 15" active matrix TFT, XGA 1024x768, 64K colors max
  • Video system - integrated VIA PN133 (VT8603), 8/16/32 MBytes memory
  • Audio system - 4299 AC97 Codec, built-in microphone and speakers
  • PC Cards slot - PCMCIA 2.1 2 x Type I/II or 1 x Type III into PC connector (support of 32-bit CardBus port and ZV for Slot 1)
  • Hard drive - IDE 10/20/30 GBytes (20 GBytes in the tested model)
  • 3.5" 1.44 MBytes FDD
  • 24x CD-ROM drive, 8x/20x DVD drive, 8x CD-RW, 8x/8x/24x/8x CD-RW/DVD Combo drive (8x DVD on the tested model)
  • V.90 built-in modem: MC97Lucent LC97 and 10/100 Mbit network card
  • I/O ports:
    • 1 x serial
    • 1 x FireWire
    • 1 x PS/2
    • 1 x connector for telephone network
    • 1 x connector for LAN
    • 1 x connector for external monitor
    • 2 x USB
    • 1 x S-video
    • 1 x linear-in for microphone
    • 1 x linear-out for speakers (S/PDIF)

  • Dimensions and weight
    • 322x277x38mm front (min.)/ 44 mm back (max.)
    • 3.27 kg

  • Power subsystem
    • Li-Ion batteries: 8 cells, 57Wh, 1900mAh
    • Run-down life, ~2.3 h
    • 19V/3.16A=60W - 240V AC adapter

Preinstalled software:

  • Windows XP Home
  • Microsoft Works Suite 2002, with Word 2002, Works 6.0 (including Microsoft Internet Explorer browser software), Microsoft Encarta® 2002, Microsoft Picture It!® Photo 2002, (Microsoft Money 2002, in English and French)
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.05
  • F-Secure Antivirus software (pre-installed)
  • Win DVD 2000 (for models with DVD-ROM or Combo drive)
  • CD Creator software (for models with CD-RW or Combo drive)
  • Quick Touch application button utility

Note: the notebooks comes with desktop Pentium III processors which, on the one hand, simplifies modernization, but on the other hand, doesn't provide for the SpeedStep support.

Accessories:

  • Notebook
  • Power unit with cable
  • Telephone cable
  • Printed user manual
  • Printed utilities&drivers guide
  • CD with the system
  • CD with drivers and utilities

First impressions

Wedge-shaped notebooks are typical of Fujitsu-Siemens, and at the same time the design of the notebook is standard for "all-in-one" systems - just compare with the Toshiba Satellite 1800-804. The prominent front part with control buttons of the CD/DVD player which can be pressed even if the notebook is folded up, makes it look flippant. Such design is meant mostly for youngsters.

Front panel (left to right):

  • mode switch
  • Stop/Eject/Application1 key
  • Play/Pause/Application2 key
  • power indicator
  • Incoming E-mail indicator
  • Previous track/Post Client key
  • Next track/Browser
  • volume control

Main connectors are, as usual, located on the back

  • Connector for Kensington lock
  • IEEE 1394 port
  • connector for a network cable
  • modem connector for a telephone line
  • parallel port
  • output for external monitor
  • S-Video output

Here we have a disc drive (which one depends on a configuration)

  • output to external audio system
  • microphone input
  • PC Card connectors
  • power source connector
  • PS/2 connector
  • 2 USB ports

The floppy disc drive is located in front.

Ergonomics and operation

Let's open the lid. Above we can see an LCD display which indicates operating modes (the display is typical of Fujitsu-Siemens)

The display is comprehensible, there are a lot of pictograms which help to understand the modes.

The keyboard is simple, without much space next to the cursor buttons (like on the Toshiba model), but it is still convenient).

The touchpad doesn't have scrolling keys - well, this is just an entry level.

The hot keys for applications are combined with the CD/DVD player's control buttons. The modes can be switched with a 3-position slider. In the left position - "AP" - the buttons are used for quick startup of applications, in the central one the keys are locked up, only the volume control works, in the right position it's possible to control the player. Programs can be assigned with the Quick Touch application button utility.

On the whole, it's easy to handle this machine. It's a bit inconvenient to have the drive in front (but it is only when you put the computer in your lap). Lack of the infrared port is not pleasant, but the entry level obviously implies that a buyer doesn't have a phone or a printer equipped with an IR port.

Warranty and service

The warranty period is 1 year. Unfortunately, the world-wide warranty is valid not in all countries.

Site

Apart from the description and specification of the notebook, and addresses of the service centers the European site offers drivers and BIOS updates. The documentation is available on the main site. No problems with the online support. Besides, since February 15 Fujitsu Siemens Computers renders the technical help via ICQ (!).

Modernization

You can add the memory, but you should do it in the service center until the end of the warranty period.

Estimation


Max. scores Our marks
Accessories 25 23
Appearance and ergonomics 25 24
Convenient handling 25 23
User support 25 25

Total: 95 scores.

We lowered the scores for

"-2" - lack of an IR port.

"-1" - for the design of the front panel (subjective).

" -2" - the floppy drive is located in front.

Tests

As almost all notebooks come today with the preinstalled Windows XP, we had to change the testing technique. Now all notebooks will be tested under the Windows XP Professional, with the hard drive containing one partition of the maximum size with the NTFS. Instead of the BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2001 we will use SysMark 2002 and, in addition, Ziff-Davis Content Creation WinStone 2002.

As it is possible to set three video memory sizes for this model, we carried out the tests for each of them.

Video memory size 8 MBytes 16 MBytes 32 MBytes
ZD Business Winstone 2001 41.5
ZD Content Creation Winstone 2002 15.3 15.8 15.7
SysMark 2002 89 87 86
SysMark 2001 Office Productivity 74 74 73
SysMark 2002 Internet Content Creation 107 103 102
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 Business Disk WinMark 3470
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 High-End Disk WinMark 10100
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 Business Graphics WinMark 112 113 115
ZD Winbench 99 v1.2 High-End Graphics WinMark 545 545 547
ZD CD Winbench 99 v1.1.1 CD-ROM WinMark 99 1810
ZD BatteryMark 4.0 1 h 41 m

As you can see, for the business applications the video memory size is not important. On the contrary, multimedia applications require more RAM; and this is natural because there are applications in this suite which work, for example, with sound. The optimal size, in my opinion, is 8 MBytes if you don't work much with graphics, and 32 MBytes if you do. 16 MBytes is, as usual, an intermediate variant.

Well, it's useless to expect high performance in 3D graphics from this model, that is why I will just show you the results of the 3DMark 2001 achieved with the 32 MBytes memory. You can compare it with the Asus S1 - the difference is noticeable.

MadOnion 3DMark 2001
(1024x768, 32 bit color, 32 bit Texture Format, 24 bit Z-buffer depth, Frame Buffer - Double buffering, Software T&L)

 
3DMark Result 355
In detail
Game fps
Car Chase
Low Details 4.8
High Details 2.2
Dragothic
Low Details 5.9
High Details 2.9
Lobby
Low Details 6.7
High Details 3.9

Well, this model is not what a gamer is dreaming of.

Summary. Conclusion

Our mark - 95 scores.

This is a simply good model, not more. Though I prefer a more conservative design. The concept "entry level" is quite vague - the processor's power and the drive's speed are sufficient, and the video subsystem works well with bussiness and multimedia applications. However, gamers won't be interested in it. The price, however, is quite acceptable (the test configuration costs some $1710, the modification with the Combo DVD+CD-RW is available at approximately $1840).


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