Fujitsu LifeBook A1110 Review

by Kevin O'Brien Reads (36,824)

by Kevin O’Brien

The Fujitsu LifeBook A1110 notebook is a 15.4” desktop replacement which offers a user-customizable screen cover. With a spill resistant keyboard and durable design it fits in well with the college crowd — who might not be overly kind to their computers. Prices start as low as $799; our review unit has a suggested retail price of $999 with some upgraded components. Read on to see if this notebook is worth the price and deserves a spot on your desk.

Our review unit of the Fujitsu LifeBook A1110 features the following specifications:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P7350 (2GHz, 3MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB)
  • Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit SP1
  • 15.4″ Crystal View WXGA display (glossy, 1280×800, replaceable lid)
  • Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500
  • 4GB DDR2 800MHz Memory (2GB x 2)
  • 320GB 5400RPM Fujitsu Hard Drive
  • Intel Wireless Wi-Fi Link 5100AGN (802.11 a/b/g/n)
  • Integrated Bluetooth Wireless
  • Dual-Layer Multi-Format DVD Writer
  • Spill Resistant Keyboard
  • Main battery: Lithium ion (6-cell, 10.8v 4000 mAh, 43Whr)
  • AC Adapter: 80w (19v, 4.22A)
  • Size: 14.56″(w) x 10.43″(d) x 1.65”/1.85”(h)
  • Weight: 6lbs 7.6oz (7lbs 6.7oz travel weight)
  • One-year International Limited Warranty
  • Configured Price: $999

Build and Design

The Fujitsu A1110 has a fairly large footprint and is thicker than most notebooks in its category. The body has a black and dark grey layout, not including the replaceable cover which gives a splash of color to the rather bland look. The trend continues inside the notebook, with the palmrest, trim, and keyboard all black. The sides of the notebook look very clean and uncluttered, with the downside being that few ports exist around the notebook. It is clear that much of the notebook smacks of unrealized potential, leaving out some desired features that would have cost very little to add.

The user-replaceable cover is the main attraction of this notebook and probably the best implementation of one that I have seen. Older designs used by Dell and others looked like something stuck onto the notebook and out of place. This cover snaps into position and looks as if the it  were an integral part of the notebook. It is very tight fitting and the paint quality is very good. Removing the cover takes little effort as long as you grip in the correct place; you could also leave it off if you wanted. One side benefit is you’ll have a spare lunch tray with you at all times.

Build quality is average — fairly durable plastic trim, although the chassis could have increased rigidity to reduce some flex. The palmrest and lower chassis flex inward with a light grip, almost as if the notebook has large sections of open space. The screen cover without the colored lid attached gives very mild protection for the LCD, but with a light grip you can still produce ripples on the screen. With the colored lid attached very little protection is added. Another point of concern is the notebook doesn’t include any sort of internal frame for added support, which may explain the copious amounts of flex.

One feature Fujitsu has offered on some notebooks that we think is strange is a removable dust filter for the processor which is normally large enough to keep coins from moving through the ductwork. This particular notebook lists the dust filter as a feature, but it appears to be just a flat cover. Since no other filter piece is included in the accessory box, one idea that this port might serve is better access for an air gun to blast dust away from the inside-out.

Display

The WXGA glossy panel rates average with comfortable viewing angles and a bright backlight that works in a well lit office setting. Colors are vibrant and contrast is very nice with the glossy screen surface. The vertical viewing range offers a good sized sweet spot with accurate colors with 10 degrees forward and back before colors start to invert. Horizontal viewing angles are better, but at steeper angles the screen starts to dim and you start seeing reflected surfaces instead of the display. The screen brightness overcomes the lights in a bright office setting, but outside viewing would be limited with the reflective glossy screen.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is easy to type on with a full-size layout and comfortable key spacing. Individual key texture is smooth with a very mild matte finish that gives just enough traction to trigger keyswithout slipping when your fingers get sweaty. The keys’ action is smooth with a mild click when fully pressed. Typing is very audible with a springy surface that makes some of the noise echo off the notebook chassis. This notebook also includes a spill resistant keyboard which will contain water without letting it drip inside and short out components. After spilling a bowl of partially melted ice cream on my ThinkPad keyboard one time, I can easily say I will never buy another notebook that doesn’t offer a protected keyboard. It is usually much cheaper to replace the keyboard after an accident than try to replace a motherboard which could easily cost more than a new notebook.

The Alps-based touchpad is sensitive for accurate finger tracking, but does add mild lag to the cursor’s movement. The touchpad surface has a matte finish and is painted to match the keyboard bezel and palmrest. The touchpad buttons are large and easy to trigger with the side of your thumb without much effort. They have shallow feedback and click loudly when pressed.

Performance

The Fujitsu A1110 is loaded with an Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 2GHz processor, 4GB of DDR2 memory, and Intel X4500 integrated video. For day-to-day use, including web browsing, word processing, light gaming or watching movies the system performs very well. Dedicated graphics would have been greatly appreciated on the upgraded model, which would have helped gaming performance and HD movie decoding. The 5400RPM hard drive performed quite well, with very little lag present when opening applications or power cycling the notebook.

WPrime is a benchmark similar to Super Pi in that it forces the processor to do intense mathematical calculations, but the difference is this application is multi-threaded and represents dual core processors better. Lower numbers indicate better performance.

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Fujitsu LifeBook A1110 (Core 2 Duo P7350 @ 2.0GHz) 38.313s
Lenovo IdeaPad Y530 (Core 2 Duo P7350 @ 2.0GHz) 38.455s
HP Pavilion dv4t (Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz) 26.972s
Dell Studio 15 (Core 2 Duo T5750 @ 2.0GHz)
41.246s
HP Pavilion dv5z (Turion X2 Ultra ZM-80 @ 2.1GHz)
39.745s
Dell Vostro 1510 (Core 2 Duo T5670 @ 1.8GHz) 51.875s
Dell Inspiron 1525 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 43.569s
Dell XPS M1530 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
37.485s
HP Pavilion dv6500z (Turion 64 X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 40.759s
Sony VAIO NR (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz) 58.233s
Toshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 38.343s
Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.299s
HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 40.965s
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.705s
HP Pavilion dv6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 38.720s

 

PCMark05 measures overall notebook performance based on processor, hard drive, operating system, RAM, and graphics (higher scores are better):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Fujitsu LifeBook A1110 (2.0GHz Intel P7350, Intel X4500) 4,281 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y530 (2.0GHz Intel P7350, Nvidia 9300M 256MB) 4,844 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv4t (2.8GHz Intel T9600, Nvidia 9200M GS 256MB) 5,463 PCMarks
Dell Studio 15 (2.0GHz Intel T5750, Intel X3100)
3,998 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dv5z (2.1GHz Turion X2 Ultra ZM-80, ATI Radeon HD 3200)
3,994 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 1510 (1.8GHz Intel T5670, Intel X3100) 3,568 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100) 4,149 PCMarks
Dell XPS M1530 (2.20GHz Intel T7500, Nvidia 8600M GT 256MB) 5,412 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron 1520 (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA 8600M GT) 4,616 PCMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100)  3,283 PCMarks 
Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB) 4,189 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks


3DMark06 comparison results for graphics performance (higher scores are better):

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Fujitsu LifeBook A1110 (2.0GHz Intel P7350, Intel X4500) 979 3DMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y530 (2.0GHz Intel P7350, Nvidia 9300M 256MB) 1,833 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv4t (2.8GHz Intel T9600, Nvidia 9200M GS 256MB) 1,741 3DMarks
Dell Studio 15 (2.0GHz Intel T5750, Intel X3100) 493 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv5z (2.1GHz Turion X2 Ultra ZM-80, ATI Radeon HD 3200)   1,599 3DMarks
Dell Vostro 1510 (1.8GHz Intel T5670, Intel X3100) 519 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100) 545 3DMarks
HP Pavilion dv6500z (2.0GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-60, NVIDIA 8400m GS)  1,551 3DMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 504 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1530 (2.20GHz Intel T7500, Nvidia 8600M GT 256MB) 4,332 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1520 (2.0GHz Intel T7300, NVIDIA 8600M GT) 2,905 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks

 

All of the 3DMark06 scores for all of the systems listed above were run at 1280 x 800 or 1280 x 768 resolution. We also ran PCMark Vantage on the LifeBook A1110 and obtained a score of 3,428.

HDTune results:

Speakers

Speaker performance was below average for a 15.4” desktop replacement notebook, with lower peak volume levels and weak low and midrange performance. For light music or watching a movie the speakers would work fine, but you really had to switch over to a pair of headphones if the room was less than completely quiet.

Ports and Features

Port selection is very light on the A1110 with three USB ports, an SD card slot, LAN, modem, VGA, and headphone/microphone ports. The USB ports were also mounted in a very awkward position with all three lined up vertically right next to each other. If you are just plugging cables into the ports it might not be a problem, but some larger USB memory sticks will end up obstructing the nearby ports. FireWire, HDMI, and eSATA, which are gaining popularity on many consumer notebooks, were missing from the selection.

Battery Life

With screen brightness set to 60%, wireless active, and Windows Vista set to the “Balanced” power profile the Fujitsu A1110 managed to stay powered for 2 hours and 32 minutes. While playing a DVD movie with the same settings it worked for 1 hour and 36 minutes, slightly under the average movie length. A larger capacity battery would have helped greatly, but instead this notebook was very outlet dependent.

Charge times were longer than normal, with a 16 watt charging rate indicated. Compare this to the 40-50 watts that most notebooks go by, and you can find yourself topping off slower than you need. Combined with a low capacity battery, this is a recipe for disaster if you have limited access to outlets while traveling.

Heat and Noise

Noise generated during cooling was minimal with very mild use of the fan. With the large size of the notebook and only using integrated graphics, the Fujitsu A1110 managed hotspots very well, and was comfortable to use for extended periods of time. The temperatures shown below are listed in degrees Fahrenheit:

Conclusion

The Fujitsu A1110 would be a great deal if it was $400 less than the current price of $999 for the configuration we reviewed. It offers a basic desktop replacement form-factor with a midrange processor and integrated graphics, which is the starting configuration for many budget notebook models. The design could be improved in many areas, but it does have a colorful lid which gives it a bit of a facelift. Build quality could be improved across the board with flexible plastic over the screen and palmrest. From what we have seen Fujitsu really needs to improve the design of this consumer notebook and rethink their pricing structure, especially now with the slumping economy.


Pros:

  • User replaceable lid with cool color design
  • Spill resistant keyboard
  • Little heat transferred through notebook body
  • Acceptable performance as configured

Cons:

  • Lots of flex
  • Overpriced for the configuration
  • Poor battery life and weak charging system


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