Fujitsu LifeBook A6120 Review

by Jerry Jackson Reads (58,305)

by Jerry Jackson

The Fujitsu LifeBook A6120 is a 15.4" widescreen multimedia notebook that was recently released in North America. The A6120 offers an Intel Core 2 Duo Penryn processor and some nice features, but doesn’t break the bank in terms of price. If you’re looking for a well-built desktop replacement productivity and multimedia machine at home that’s still light enough to carry around a bit, the A6120 deserves your attention.

Buy the LifeBook A6120 direct from Fujitsu.

Our review unit of the LifeBook A6120 is equipped with the following specs:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 Processor (2.1GHz, 3 MB L2 cache, 800 MHz FSB)
  • Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit)
  • 15.4" Crystal View WXGA (1280 x 800) display (300 nits brightness)
  • 3GB DDR2 667MHz SDRAM memory
  • 250GB SATA, 5400 rpm hard drive with Shock Sensor protection
  • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 integrated graphics
  • Dual-Layer Multi-Format DVD Writer
  • Integrated webcam and digital microphone
  • Multinational 56K V.90 modem and Gigabit Ethernet LAN
  • Integrated Atheros Super AG (802.11a/b/g) wireless
  • Five USB 2.0 ports, IEEE 1394, Memory Stick/SD/xD slot, PC Card slot, ExpressCard slot
  • Main battery: Lithium ion (6-cell, 10.8V, 4000 mAh)
  • Standard spill resistant keyboard
  • One-year International Limited Warranty
  • Dimensions: 14.17" x 10.43" x 1.55"
  • Weight: 6.6 pounds with 6-cell battery
  • Price as configured: $1,299 ($1,249 after $50 mail-in rebate)

 


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Build and Design

The 15.4" widescreen category of notebooks is by far the most popular size for people buying laptops for the home. Most consumers want a PC in the house that can be moved around easily and used in either the kitchen or the living area, but also that has a large enough screen to easily do work at a desk … essentially replacing the bulky desktop PC.

There’s a lot of competition in this size range and the Fujitsu LifeBook A6120 isn’t the cheapest notebook in this class. The Dell Inspiron 1525, HP dv6700 series, and Sony VAIO NR are just a few of the other popular offerings that start at a lower price. What sets the A6120 apart from the competition is a strong build, appealing conservative look, and a better selection of ports than you’ll find on most 15-inch notebooks.


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If you don’t care for the smooth, glossy look of most consumer notebooks then the A6120 might be just the notebook you’re after. I matte black plastics with just a hint of metal flake look quite attractive with the black keyboard. It’s more plain looking than most consumer notebooks, yet stylish in a not-too-flashy sort of way.

The screen hinges are tight and firmly hold the screen in place without preventing you from positioning the lid exactly where you want it. The screen latch is well designed and holds the lid down, and to go with that the button to unlatch the lid is easy to push in and operate. The case/chassis is made of strong plastics that are thick enough to absorb some shock with a drop. There is very little flex in the main body of the notebook and the only obvious areas of flex are on the back of the display lid and the keyboard. The bottom of the notebook also seems provides ample protection.

One common indication of build quality is whether the manufacturer uses those really cheap plastic dummy inserts to protect the notebook slots from dust, or if the notebook uses quality retractable flaps. Kudos to Fujitsu for providing flaps that spring back when you insert an accessory into a slot — that’s extra points in the build quality column.

Screen

The Fujitsu CrystalView 15.4" Widescreen XGA (1280 x 800) display is a glossy screen with excellent brightness, color and contrast. You can configure the A6120 with a standard CrystalView display with a brightness rating of 300 nits or a "Color-Enhanced" CrystalView display with a brightness rating of 450 nits. While the lack of higher resolutions is disappointing, the overwhelming majority of "average" notebook users will think the WXGA resolution looks stunning.

The screen on our review unit looks flawless from straight on and the horizontal viewing angles are good. Upper vertical viewing angles are acceptable, but colors did begin to invert at lower viewing angles when the screen is tilted back.


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Keyboard, Touchpad and Media Controls

The keyboard on the LifeBook A6120 has a nice layout but there is considerable flex on the right side above the optical drive. The typing experience is still enjoyable and the keys have excellent travel and cushion.


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The touchpad area works well and is large and wide. The mouse buttons are highly usable, but they have shallow feedback, so if you tend to press hard you’ll end up with sore thumbs. The button in the middle and can be used as a scroll area if you wish, so it’s well positioned for such a thing.


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A series of media buttons are located above the keyboard similar to the media buttons you’ll find on many consumer notebooks. There is a button for one-touch support, a web browser launch button, a web search button, two programable buttons (one set to notepad and one set to calculator by default) and volume control buttons.


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Ports and Features

The port selection of the A6120 is quite good for a notebook of this size. Here’s a quick rundown of what you get:

Front profile view: LED status lights, headphone out, microphone in, WiFi on/off, and speakers.


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Left side: Optical drive.


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Right side: PC Card slot, ExpressCard slot, multi-format card reader, USB 2.0 port, Firewire, and power jack.


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Back profile view: Kensington lock slot, two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, S-video, heat vent, VGA-out, two USB 2.0 ports, and modem.


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I was pleasantly surprised to find five USB ports on the A6120. I was even more impressed that Fujitsu included both the PC Card slot and an ExpressCard slot. I was only disappointed by the fact that the A6120 doesn’t include an HDMI out port since more and more consumers are connecting their notebooks to their HDTVs.

Speakers

The speaker quality was "acceptable" for a notebook without a built-in subwoofer. The speakers for the A6120 are located at the front edge beneath the palmrests.


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There’s not much to write home about the speakers, they get loud enough with minimal distortion, but the sound is slightly tinny as is the case with nearly all laptop speakers. The biggest problem I experienced with the speakers was when I used this notebook as a "laptop." When the A6120 is placed on your lap it’s easy to muffle the speakers against your body or clothing. This wouldn’t be a problem if humans had ears next to our waistlines, but since we don’t it would be nice for Fujitsu to place the speakers next to the display or around the keyboard.

Performance and Benchmarks

The main advantage the LifeBook A6120 has over the older A6110 is the addition of the new Intel Core 2 Duo "Penryn" series processor. In this case, the A6120 offers either the 2.1GHz T8100 or the 2.4GHz T8300 processors. Using the new 45-nm process technology means less power consumption and heat. Intel is also claiming superior multitasking capabilitiy with the new Penryn processors.

While the Fujitsu A6120 has a decent processor, the integrated graphics hurts it somewhat in an overall system score when compared to similar and higher-end notebooks.

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi. (Lower numbers mean better performance.)

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Fujitsu LifeBook A6120 (Core 2 Duo T8100 @ 2.1GHz) 37.251s
Dell Inspiron 1525 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 43.569s
Dell XPS M1530 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz)
37.485s
Portable One SXS37 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 41.908s
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
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz) 76.240s
Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 42.385s
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.705s
Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz) 38.327s
Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 38.720s
Samsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 42.218s
Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi (Core Duo T2500 @ 2.0GHz) 42.947s
Samsung X60plus (Core 2 Duo T7200 @ 2.0GHz) 44.922s
Zepto Znote 6224W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 45.788s
Samsung Q35 (Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83GHz) 46.274s
Samsung R20 (Core Duo T2250 @ 1.73GHz) 47.563s

 

3DMark06 comparison results for graphics performance:
(Higher scores mean better performance.)

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Fujitsu LifeBook A6120 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100) 509 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1525 (2.0GHz Intel T7250, Intel X3100) 545 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
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,069 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB 2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66GHz Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 1,831 3DMarks
Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,819 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks

PCMark05 measures overall notebook performance:
(Higher scores mean better performance)

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Fujitsu LifeBook A6120 (2.1GHz Intel T8100, Intel X3100) 4,061 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
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS) 4,591 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,987 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
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks


HDTune results:


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Heat and Noise

The LifeBook A6120 does an excellent job keeping heat under control. The system fan and heatsinks inside the laptop do a great job managing heat when the system is under load … as we discovered when we ran multiple benchmarks back to back. Below are images with temperature readings listed in degrees Fahrenheit:


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Fortunately, noise was not an issue with the fan on the A6120. The fan moved a significant amount of hot air out of the vent on the rear of the notebook, but the fan volume remained below that of other notebooks we’ve reviewed. When the fan is on low it isn’t noticeable over background noise most of the time. When the fan was at the highest setting we did record the volume of the noise breaking the 50dB mark from about two inches away from the fan exhaust. Again, this was a pre-production review unit, so your mileage (or decibels) may vary.

Battery Life

The 6-cell Li-Ion battery provides reasonable battery life for the A6120. With Vista’s power management running in "high performance" mode, screen brightness set to maximum and wireless on, the 6-cell battery delivered 2 hours and 41 minutes of battery life. We’re certain that the 6-cell could deliver a solid three and a half hours of life with the notebook set to "balanced" or "power saver" mode and the screen brightness turned down.

Buy the LifeBook A6120 direct from Fujitsu.

Conclusion

Overall, the Fujitsu LifeBook A6120 is a solid notebook with good performance and some nice features. The abundance of USB ports and the combionation of a PC Card slot and ExpressCard slot mean this notebook has plenty of room for external expansion. Although the A6120 isn’t a gaming machine, the Penryn processor can handle everyday computing tasks with ease.

If the awkward speaker placement and overall thickness and weight don’t bother you then this notebook makes an excellent choice. In short, the LifeBook A6120 is a dependable workhorse of a notebook but lacks the flashy features found on most consumer notebooks.

Pros

  • Excellent selection of ports
  • Reasonable battery life
  • Spill-resistant keyboard and nice touchpad
  • Solid performance and features

Cons

  • Poor placement of speakers
  • A little too much keyboard flex
  • Thick and heavy compared to competition




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