by Paul Davey - Dawson Creek, Canada
The Fujitsu N6010 Series Laptop is Fujitsu's latest foray into the Desktop Replacement Laptop Category. Sporting an Intel Pentium 4 CPU, 512MB of Dual Channel RAM, 128MB of Dedicated Video Memory, and a 17" wide aspect screen, Fujitsu is hoping to capture some of the market share currently dominated by the likes of Dell, and HP. Fujitsu has always been known for their quality build and impressive display technology, so let's see how this current model stacks up.
Fujitsu N6010 Specs
I bought this unit mainly due to its price to performance ratio. I have seen Fujitsu laptops in the past, and was always impressed with their screens. Combined with the power of the model, and the sweet video adapter, I took the plunge. My cost on it I won't say as I purchased it from my place of work which is a computer retail store. The Unit retails in stores for around $2400-$2500 (Canadian Dollars). Compared to the competition, this is an excellent price point.
The Look and Feel
This is without a doubt the sexiest full size laptop I have ever seen. The body is silver and black, and the Keyboard-Touchpad area is done in a glossy, pearl-white finish which looks quite classy and feels durable. The unit is about 2 inches thick, but doesn't really look like it when the screen is up; probably due to size of the overall unit (it's big). But to me it doesn't "look thick". It's a bit heavy at 10 lbs, but I knew it would be, and for me the weight isn't a factor. I don't travel frequently. Screen Flex is about what I expected in a display of this size. Not overly flexible in my opinion. Overall the Unit is sweet to look at, is well designed, and feels like a quality built product
The Fujitsu N6010 LCD (on the left) is in a word, bright!
This is my favorite section. As I stated above, every other Fujitsu notebook I have seen in the past had a nice screen. Boy was I in for a treat. The display is fabulous! From the black being really black to the colors being bright and vibrant, this display is wonderfully crisp. There is a glossy coating on the screen I thought initially would provide a lot of glare. But it does not. I suspect it's to protect the excellent screen, or may benefit the unit being used outdoors reflecting the light away, rather than absorbing it. My eyes have yet to bother me at all, and I have stared at it extensively! DVD Movies looked fabulous, and the operation in Windows and the Internet was bright and clear. The only drawback I could think of with the display was the resolution. Now really I am being a bit picky here in terms of personal preference. 1440 x 900 is not too shabby but 1600 x 1050 sounds better. But alas folks, think of the price point.. I doubt anyone would get an ultra high resolution screen like that without a fair bit more scratch to spend. Overall I am extremely happy with the display. Oh, and no dead pixels.
Most of the laptops I have used in the past always seem to have only "mediocre at best" speaker systems, and basic Audio Chipsets. Obviously laptops are portables and in order to be functional, you have to give up a few things... right? Wrong! The N6010 Sports a 3 piece speaker system with an integrated Sub Woofer, operating off a Sigma Tel Audio Codec Chip. At first I didn't expect much. The audio in windows on boot didn't sound like much of a big deal. Being jaded already, the first thing I did was to test the speakers with a DVD title I'm sure we are all familiar with- Star Wars Episode VI-The Empire Strikes Back. Well this unit easily blew away any misconceptions I had about the ability to put some nice power audio-wise into a laptop. The bass was not air moving level, but did provide depth I had never previously heard. The keypad rest area literally rumbled under my hands! I also noticed the left and right speakers looked as if they were ported via holes beside each one in the top bezel. I noticed a third port just under the indicator lights in the front bezel. This must be used for the Subwoofer. I feel this was intended to enhance the positional audio capability of the unit. I think it works too! Spaceships sailing by on screen actually sounded as if they had gone by. The mids were excellent, and the highs just right. Voices in the movie were clear and easily distinguishable. In addition, this unit packs enough quality volume to be clearly heard a fair distance away. The volume control maxes out at 15 which I tried and experienced no distortion at all. The unit is comfortably loud without hiss, or crackle. Overall the nicest sounding set I have ever heard in a laptop and am very happy with the volume level it achieves.
Processor and Graphics Performance
This unit uses the Intel Mobile Pentium 4 CPU Model 538 which runs at 3.2Ghz and supports Hyperthreading. I have upgraded the RAM to 1024MB (2x512MB Dual Channel) as I received a great upgrade price at purchase. Coupled with ATI's Mobilty Radeon 9700 and 128MB of RAM this configuration is pretty decent in terms of horsepower on paper, but lets get on with some performance benchmarks and see how it fares.
The system's boot time average over 5 restarts was 46 seconds. Nice! I feel that's quite fast for a laptop, most likely due to Fujitsu's lean software pre-load. I for one appreciate this as the more software loading on boot the slower. The first performance test I used was PCMark 04 by the Futuremark Corporation. I used this test as it is freely downloadable, and something everyone can use as a reasonable benchmark to judge performance of any computer.
PC MARK 04 Score 4433
I compared this test to others online and I'm happy to say it's in the same company as full size computers with AMD Athlon 64 CPU's in the 2-2.4Ghz range and the Pentium 4 3-3.2Ghz Range. In terms of general Windows performance, it is every bit as fast as I had hoped it would be. Things like browsing, file copying, opening and closing applications, and multitasking were all handled with ease. I don't have any high end programs such as Autocad, or Adobe Photoshop, but I'm certain it would perform right up there along side with the average current higher end full size PC.
I used 3DMark03 also By Futuremark Corporation. I think most will agree it is also a decent tool for measuring the graphics capability of any computer in theoretical terms. I used the stock display driver to do the first test.
3D MARK03 Score Std Fujitsu Drivers Catalyst 4.10, Std Core (452Mhz), and Std Memory (222Mhz): 3221
3D Mark03 Score Over-clocked Omega Drivers Catalyst 5.1 Core (459Mhz), and Memory (230Mhz): 3468
Half Life 2 Demo
Time Demo Average frame rate 1024x768 Wide with 4X AA and 2X AF Medium/High
Overall I am impressed with these scores.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Having a dedicated number pad on the N6010 keyboard is a great feature
The full size keyboard is nicely placed, packing 103 keys, and full size numerical pad! Anyone who crunches numbers can attest to the fact this is a sweet addition. The keyboard is nice to type on, and I found my typing speed has increased probably due to its size. The Touchpad is smooth and easy to use.
Input and Output Ports
The Fujitsu N6010 sports most all the ports one would expect in a laptop of this classification. 4-USB 2.0, 1394 Firewire, Memory Card Slots, Audio in, out, PC Card Slot, VGA Out, S-Video Out, 56k Modem, and a Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. I have a few minor criticisms though. Firstly I feel in a Laptop of this Size, Fujitsu should have opted to include a Compact Flash Card Slot. I own a Canon Elph which uses CF, and it sure would be nice not to have to purchase an additional reader. Canon uses CF almost exclusively. Secondly, a DVI port would have been nice for a digital Flat Panel Monitor in the future. This would have added a nice bonus for obvious reasons, and taking into account there are no Serial, or Parallel ports on the back, there is certainly enough room for one. I for one have no use for legacy ports, but those of you who still do, you best be looking elsewhere. Worth mentioning as well is the unit has USB ports on the left, right, and back of the unit. I for one appreciate the ability to connect devices on any of 3 sides. Overall enough ports for my liking, the only item I am left wishing for is the CF Reader.
Back side of Fujitsu N6010
Left side of Fujitsu N6010
Right side of Fujitsu N6010
Front side of Fujitsu N6010
The unit sports an Atheros 802.11a/b/g Wireless Adapter. I have not tested it extensively in terms of distance yet, but I can say without hesitation it is excellent for general surfing/streaming/data transfer, and offers steady, strong signal strength. Large file downloads on my cable internet through my ASUS 330 Pocket Wireless B Access Point was usually in the 200-300k range. Not quite as fast as the wired pc, but certainly fast enough! Overall this is a great adapter.
The Battery as expected goes for roughly 2 hours in general usage. If I was to tweak settings extensively, I bet I could get it to go 2.5 hrs, but I really am not too concerned with the battery life. My plan all along was to be near a power outlet while using this device. So basically it's a non issue with me. I wanted the most power for the dollar, not the most battery life.
The Optical Drive
The N6010B Sports a Multi-Write DVD+/-RW Drive. This is my first experience with a laptop including a DVD Burner. The first test I did with it was to copy a DVD movie. I used a program called ICOPY DVD's. After the Program was done copying the source disc, I popped in a Memorex 4X DVD+R Disk. The disc was done recording in approximately 21 minutes. I have nothing really to compare to, but I can say that's about the same speed the 12X Liteon DVD+/-RW in my PC burns 4X DVD's. The next test I performed was a standard CD-R record. I used a game demo download that weighed in at 687MB. A generic 700MB blank disk was used. It finished the recording in 7 minutes 22 Seconds. I experienced no issues with either test, and have since burned 6 DVD's and 15 or so CD-R's as well with no issues. Installation of software and movie playback was also performed without any glitches, however copying data from a source CD to the hard drive seemed to take a fair bit longer than I thought it should. I don't have any time figures for this observation.
Overall I feel the drive is solid and a decent performer, plus it is quiet when in operation, which is nice.
Operating System and Software
As mentioned above in the performance section, The unit is nice and lean on the software load. Other than Windows XP Home, it came bundled with Quicken New User 2005, Norton AV 2005 90 day trial, and Works 8.0. I really do appreciate light preloads of software, and can attest to the performance enhancing aspects this approach achieves. Fujitsu has also included a nifty little program to automatically update any drivers and firmware upon its release. No more hunting through piles of information in order to get the proper files. Click the icon and it does the rest. A very nice added feature this user really appreciates. Overall I'm very happy with the preload for the added performance, and the ease of updating the system drivers etc.
I have not yet had to contact Fujitsu for any support, but if I do I'm certain they will take good care of me. The word on the net is Fujitsu support is right up there with the best of them.
I have only 3 "minor" beefs with this laptop. One, the fans when they kick in are louder than most I have heard. In a very quiet room it's fairly loud. But in general it's not bad for me as I have 2 other PC's in the same room and they tend to be what I hear. Only the pickiest of people will find them overly loud to the point of bothersome. The second is the lack of a CF Slot, and lastly, I really feel it's time for manufacturer's to put in 5400 or 7200 RPM Hard Disk Drives as standard equipment. I for one as soon as I can get a good deal, will be replacing the standard 4200 RPM HD for a 80GB 7200 one. I mean really, isn't 10-15% performance increase in some cases worth the few extra bucks? For performance minded configurations, it's crazy not to finish off the package with a top line hard drive. This is the icing on the cake we are not getting. Please note this laptop is still very fast with the standard drive as most all other P4 3.2Ghz laptops with 4200 disks are. The point is why not add the "fastest" hard disk drives along with the "fastest" RAM, and CPU's, especially when the price differences are now small between the 4200 and the 7200 Drives.
Well.. where to start? What is the best feature of this unit? Is it the amazing screen? Is it the superior sound quality? Perhaps it's the desktop performance? Of course folks it's all of the above. The Performance, speed, features, and display. Two huge Thumbs up!
Overall I am extremely pleased with my purchase. It's now been a little over a month since I received and I seriously seem to love it more everyday, albeit to my wife's dismay!
All in all one heck of a deal, I firmly believe the screen alone is more than worth the price of admission folks! Anyone looking for a true blue Desktop replacement laptop, who doesn't mind a bit of weight, and who doesn't need the long battery life, this is the laptop you should consider. This unit is a solid choice.
Any Comments would be appreciated, or if there is anything you wish to know that I have not covered, please e-mail me at email@example.com
Final Score 9/10
- Paul Davey
Pricing and Availability
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