Fujitsu LifeBook S6000 Series Review

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Fujitsu Lifebook S6000 Series Review

by Andrew Baxter

Style certainly isn’t the number one feature to look for in a laptop, after all the main purpose of a notebook computer is to help you get work done, but when you can combine great style with excellent functionality in a highly mobile package then you’re onto something special.  The Fujitsu Lifebook S6120 is the notebook computer I’m alluding to in this case.  The Fujitsu Lifebook S6120 presents a sharp look with its external silver-magnesium alloy case, it’s sure to turn heads, and at the same time it keeps weight down to 4.3 pounds to provide for a fantastically mobile thin and light laptop that’s small enough to tuck under your arm but big enough and powerful enough to make it a highly functional and easy to use computer.

A 3/4 View of the Fujitsu Lifebook S6120 shows its distinctive style and thinness

Fujitsu LifeBook S6120 Overview

The Fujitsu S Series line of notebooks all come with a 13.3-inch XGA screen that is well backlit and provides a crisp image.  The backlight can of course be adjusted, lower the brightness to save battery power but crank it up when you’re plugged in for a brilliantly lit screen.  The keyboard, despite the compact size of the notebook, is big and comfortable to use.  There’s of course no number pad such as you’ll get on much larger laptops (i.e. the desktop replacement HP ZD7000 notebook), and certain keys such as the Page Down/Up and Enter keys are compromised in size or accessibility, but in general making key strokes is a breeze and can be used as naturally as a full-size keyboard.  There’s no option for a pointing-stick such as you get with IBM ThinkPads — I miss having that option but many buyers could care less.  Often with thin-and-lights you’ll find that the screen is scrunched down to 12.2-inches and the keyboard is somewhat cramped but with the S6120 you get a 11.5-by-9.3-by-1.3-inch machine that weighs only 4.3lb, making it a cinch to carry, and it’s still comfortable to use.  Another major advantage the Lifebook S has over similar notebooks in its class is that it has an internal, swappable bay.  The S6120 single bay supports modular devices such as secondary optical storage drives (CD, DVD, and DVD/CD-RW), as well as a second battery. If you’re on the go and need to pop in and out different modules then you’ll really appreciate this feature.  It’s also nice just to know you can upgrade your storage drives and have the flexibility to swap in and out different media format drives.

A front profile view of the Fujitsu S Series notebook

A top view shows the beautiful Magnesium-Alloy casing, this great looking material also  offers protection in the case of bumps and (to some extent) drops of the laptop

The left side of the S6120 includes the Microphone/Headphone jacks, PCMCIA slot and fan output vent

The LifeBook S series offers a great selection of ports and slots. On the left edge of the notebook is the headphone and microphone ports, along with one Type II PC Card slot that includes an embedded smart-card reader. The smart-card reader lets you save and access sensitive info on smart cards. I’m not a very big fan of this feature, smart-cards have gained very little usage in the U.S. even though they have been out for a long time now.  Europe has adopted this technology in a much larger fashion, but in my opinion this feature is wasted upon the U.S. market and it’s really sort of a drawback rather than beneficial feature as it takes up space and eliminates room for such things as an SD card reader.  In addition to this, to use the smart-card reader you’ll have to buy a smart-card adapter (approximately $25) available through various third parties. Along the back edge, there are VGA, IrDA, 56Kbps modem, Ethernet, two USB 2.0 ports, a switch to turn enable or disable Wi-Fi (if you disable the Wi-Fi radio you can save battery life) and a FireWire port.  The built-in FireWire that is standard in the Fujitsu S6000 series allows for blazingly fast transfer of digital media from cameras or digital video recorders onto your laptop.  On the right hand side is the modular bay that can house an optical drive or backup battery.

 

Back view of the S6120

 

Right side view of the S6120

The speakers on the Fujitsu S6120 are standard fare, nothing to write home about really though.  You’ll want to buy a set of decent speakers to hook up to the headphone out port if you want to hear bass and treble or have a decent volume.  The volume of the speakers don’t go very loud, and the louder you turn them up the more tinny they sound so it’s really not recommended.  I’m not saying the speakers are bad, they’re actually pretty much so in line with other laptops in its class (desktop replacement notebooks tend to pay more attention to speaker quality that thin-and-light portable notebooks) but just don’t expect a sound machine that you can jam to tunes on.  One thing to mention related to sound on this laptop is that overall the system is very quiet.  The fan is located on the left hand side and since the Lifebook tends to run pretty cool (meaning it’s no bother to have it on your lap since it’s not uncomfortably warm) the fan rarely kicked in but when it did it was quiet and certainly not enough to be distracting or drown out speaker sound.

The S6120 is just slightly thicker than a typical sized wallet

Configuration Options

When configuring a LifeBook S series, Fujitsu provides many options.   You’re able to choose between a 1.4GHz or 1.6GHz Pentium M processor, 256MB/512MB/1GB of RAM, 30GB/40GB/60GB Hard Drive at 4200 RPM, CD/DVD/CDRW&DVD optical drive, with or without a port Replicator, an optional USB external floppy drive and an optional extra Li-Ion battery.  Wi-Fi comes integrated by default, the integrated Wi-Fi is an Intel PRO/wireless 2100 (802.11b) card so this is indeed a Centrino machine.  Centrino is of course the Intel marketing terminology for a laptop that includes a Pentium M processor and integrated Wi-Fi.  Your CPU choice will play a factor in determining how fast the machine performs, but in general if you’re on a budget and undecided between upgrading the amount of RAM versus processor speed, upgrade the RAM.  The difference in speed between a 1.4GHz and 1.6GHz configured S6120 is marginal.  However, the difference in performance between a notebook with 256MB of RAM versus 1GB of RAM is like night and day, upgrade the RAM if you can afford it!  You can choose from three operating systems for the LifeBook S series: Windows 2000, Windows XP Home, and Windows XP Professional. You’ll also get a few Fujitsu utilities and Norton AntiVirus. Windows XP-based configurations come with Microsoft Works and Intuit Quicken 2004 New User Edition. Systems with a DVD or a DVD/CD-RW drive also ship with InterVideo WinDVD for DVD playback and Veritas RecordNow for CD burning.  Overall though, the included software is fairly weak and you’ll end up needing to buy productivity packages such as Microsoft Office.

Battery and Application Performance


The Fujitsu S Series competes with notebooks such as the Toshiba Satellite Pro M10-S405 and Sony VAIO PCG-Z1A. When equipped with a 1.4GHz Pentium M processor and 512MB of RAM the Lifebook slightly underperformed the Toshiba M10 and outperformed the VAIO Z1A, the Fujitsu LifeBook S2000 is basically a low-end version of the the S6000, the S2000 comes with an Athlon processor:

 

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)

BAPCo MobileMark2002 performance rating   
Toshiba Satellite Pro M10-S405
165 
Fujitsu LifeBook S6000
162 
Sony VAIO PCG-Z1A
148 
Fujitsu LifeBook S2000
94 

 

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark2002 battery life in minutes   
Toshiba Satellite Pro M10-S405
298 
Sony VAIO PCG-Z1A
223 
Fujitsu LifeBook S6000
207 
Fujitsu LifeBook S2000
170 

System configurations Used for benchmarks:

Fujitsu LifeBook S2000
Windows XP Professional; 1.5GHz AMD Athlon XP-M 1700+; 496MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Radeon IGP 320M 16MB (shared); Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 4,200rpm

Fujitsu LifeBook S6000
Windows XP Professional; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 504MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 82852/82855 Graphics Controller 64MB (8MB shared); Hitachi DK23EA-60 60GB 5,400rpm

Sony VAIO PCG-Z1A
Windows XP Home; 1.3GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 16MB; Hitachi DK23EA-60 60GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite Pro M10-S405
Windows XP Home; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 420 Go 32MB; Toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB 5

About Benchmark Tests:
Mobile application performance and battery life are measured using BAPCo’s MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using popular applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Netscape Communicator, WinZip, Adobe Photoshop.

One note I’ll add on the battery life, the advertised battery life by Fujitsu is 4.5 hours, and I’m pleased to say that that is indeed what I achieved when turning down screen brightness on a recent flight from New York to Las Vegas.  I started using the notebook at the airport in New York and 4.5 hours later after I arrived in Las Vegas the notebook forced a shut down due to low battery power.  Usually it’s the case that you’ll get less battery life than what is advertised in the system specs, but the S6120 lived up to the claim on battery life.

System Warranty and Customer Support

Fujitsu’s base coverage includes a one-year, parts-and-labor warranty with mail-in service and free, 24/7 tech support via phone. Optional warranty extensions include up to three years of coverage with onsite service from a Fujitsu rep. You can also buy screen-damage protection for one or three years, during which time Fujitsu will repair your display twice for any reason.

Overall Fujitsu customer support and service is above average.  I had no problem returning a port replicator that I decided I did not want even after I’d kept it past the 15-day return period, they were very understanding of my decision to return the replicator due to a change of mind on my part.  Fujitsu also has a unique online help site that features chat with live customer support people, visit this page for further information on customer support:

http://support.fujitsupc.com/CS/Portal/supporthome.do

Conclusion and Recommended Buying Audience

For the sake of brevity I did not list all the technical specifications of the Fujitsu S6120 in this review, but rather have included the system tech specs on a separate page, please click here to visit the technical specifications for the Fujitsu S6120 .

Overall I give a thumbs up for the Fujitsu LifeBook S6120.  It’s a great notebook for the price, base configuration starts at $1,349 and if you add all the bells and whistles the highest price you can really take the S6120 up to is $2000.  This notebook would be great for college students or business professionals that like to have a portable laptop combined with a professional stylish look and be connected to the internet via Wi-Fi when necessary.  The rugged but stylish casing offers protection in the case of unintended abuse, such as objects dropping onto the laptop or an actual drop of the laptop itself.  If you’re looking for a desktop replacement, this is not the right notebook.  The screen is too small for graphic design or multimedia work, nor does it have the graphics processing power for such things.  A gaming machine this system is not, but it will run any productivity application in a snappy manner as long as you configure the notebook with 512MB of RAM or greater.

Pros:

  • Fantastic stylish look in a neat and compact magnesium-alloy casing
  • Good customer support from Fujitsu, a company known for its quality and innovation
  • Great price for what you get, starting at $1349 the Fujitsu S6120 is cheaper than other thin-and-light notebooks in its class.

Cons

  • Graphics performance is not great, don’t buy this as a multimedia editing machine or for gaming.
  • SmartCard reader should have been replaced with some type of flash card reader, such as Secure Digital, no one in the U.S. uses Smart Cards, it’s a wasted feature.
  • No option for a pointing stick, as a programmer I rely on easy input navigation on the screen by using scroll bars and keyboard short-cuts, the ThinkPad X30 thin-and-light outperforms the Fujitsu S6120 in keyboard usability.

Where to Buy:

Many of our affiliates sell this laptop, you can comparison shop using our picing engine:

Compare Prices for Fujitsu LifeBook S Series

or buy direct from Fujitsu:

http://webshop.fujitsupc.com/fpc/Ecommerce/buildseriesbean.do?series=S6


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