Fujitsu LifeBook N6460 Notebook PC - Review

Fujitsu LifeBook N6460 Notebook PC - Review

Core 2 Duo T7700 Processor 2.4GHz, 2GB RAM

The desktop replacement category at the high end is heating up faster than a stuffed chicken in a nuclear reactor, and now Fujitsu is entering the fray with the Lifebook N6460. Amongst all the monster "laptops" from HP, Dell and Toshiba, there's been a heavy focus on multimedia and power, and to a degree, the Fujitsu does well here--the speakers and price being the only things that truly cripple it.

Design of the Fujitsu LifeBook N6460 Laptop

This machine doesn't make any attempt to insult your intelligence by being needlessly pretty or "personalized" (can something be personalized if it's mass produced? Perhaps that's what Apple's engraving deal is all about). As a result, it's big, it's grey, it's well-built, it's non-offensive, but neither is it inspiring.

A full-sized keyboard and separated numpad let you know you're in desktop replacement land, other than the obvious 17-inch 1,440 x 900-resolution glossy screen which rightfully dominates the view.

Ports dot the left, right and rear, but wisely there is nothing on the front. The air vent at the rear means no hands will be cooked while using external mouses.

Features of the Fujitsu LifeBook N6460 Laptop

This is where a large notebook will always do well, due to the amount of extra space inherent in such a venture.

The N6460 features both Express Card 54 and PCMCIA Type I/II, and comes laden with five USB ports, meaning it should be able to support most addon hardware. Above the ExpressCard slot is a card reader, servicing SD, xD-Picture Card and Memory Stick Pro formats.

The included FireWire port, composite in, RCA audio in, S-video in/out, VGA and HDMI ports mean that most of your video needs are covered as well. And since it uses a Radeon HD 2600 as a graphics card, the HDMI port will carry sound over it as well, unlike a lot of other HDMI solutions. The Radeon HD 2600 isn't too crash hot as a gaming card, but will fill the gap in a pinch.

The video fun doesn't stop here as it comes with a TV tuner as well, relying on Windows Media Center to show the result. Fortunately, for recording, Cyberlink's PowerProducer is also available, and for watching back your Blu-ray movies, PowerDVD is included as well.

A rebranded version of PC-Doctor is a welcome hardware testing application for when you're trying to hunt down that elusive problem you just can't solve.

Gigabit Ethernet and a dial-up modem are featured at the back with wireless 802.11a/b/g/n available as well.

A fingerprint reader doubles as a scroll wheel, but isn't terribly accurate, leaving you to use the much better trackpad scrolling option.

The circle situated at the top near the screen is actually a four-way button--hit the side labelled "A" and it makes a vastly annoying sprite-type sound and loads the notepad. Hit "B" and you get the same annoying sound, but the calculator pops up instead. The other sides bring up your browser and mail client. All the buttons can fortunately be customized to launch the application of your choice, although shutting up the sound is a little less intuitive, requiring you to click on a button labelled Application registration, click the Next button and then check "Do no replay sound" [sic]. Pressing the mode button next to the circle switches it to a media control, play, pause, stop and seek buttons lighting up.

A button marked Visual Optimizer sits to the left of the control circle, and flips between Video Mode and PC Mode, although we could never spot any difference while playing back DVDs or during ordinary tasks.

To the left again is a volume control--odd as the function keys for volume control are still included on the keyboard itself--and a switch to turn the wireless adapter on and off.

Performance And Battery Life of the Fujitsu LifeBook N6460 Laptop

Annoyingly the speakers had a propensity to occasionally squeal due to hard drive activity when they weren't in use, and while there was a subwoofer on the bottom, it didn't seem to contribute largely to the overall sound. The speakers being placed at the front of the notebook was also a poor design decision as the sound is muffled when you type.

The N6460 did well in the benchmarks though, busting out a respectable 3,630 on 3DMark06, and an equally respectable 5,170 in PCMark05.

For battery life things were a bit grim as they always are with desktop replacements, clocking in at a tiny 31 minutes 36 seconds while playing back a DVD, with all power-saving options turned off and all settings pushed to maximum. While this is a particularly gruelling test, it shows that you won't want to take this thing away from the wall for too long. The space in which you can insert a battery is limited as well, meaning the possibility of upgrading to a juicier battery has been effectively nixed.

This is also a notebook you don't want on your lap--it gets far too hot far too quickly. Interestingly Fujitsu's unique heat pads usually included on the bottom also aren't present--perhaps the intent was that it would never be on your lap.

It's ruggedly built and is a decent performer, but it's a little hard to recommend in the face of its competition. In this category, one can pick up a Dell XPS M1730 with the same processor and Blu-ray drive that has not one, but two superior 8700M graphics cards, a Webcam, a higher-resolution screen (1,920 x 1200), Bluetooth and a nine-cell battery. You sacrifice Draft-N wireless networking, HDMI/VGA (both of which can be converted from the DVI port anyway), the subwoofer and the video-in ports as a result, but this is a sacrifice we'd be willing to make.

Similarly HP's monster 20-inch notebook, the HDX, comes in around the same street price despite having a price higher and being significantly larger.

Sony's S$6,999 (US$4,604.61) VAIO VGN-AR59GU manages to be more expensive while offering less on some specs (no wireless N, slower processor, less USB ports) and punches through in other areas (higher-resolution screen, Webcam, Bluetooth, superior graphics card, more attractive design). Sony, like Apple, has a reputation for pushing prices higher than anyone else though, so perhaps this is not the best example.

In saying that, video enthusiasts may well leap for the N6460's video-in ports and HDMI-out that also carries sound, although we suspect this will be a restricted market.

After-Sales Service And Support for the Fujitsu LifeBook N6460 Laptop

Fujitsu LifeBook has a one-year international warranty with second-year and third-year local warranty. At Fujitsu's support Web site, LifeBook owners can register their warranty online as well as download the latest drivers. For simple problems, the company offers a helpline and email address for troubleshooting. Should the unit require further diagnosis or repair, the customer will have to send the unit to any service center worldwide during the first year. Subsequently, Fujitsu will honor the notebook's warranty only for the subsequent two years at the original country of purchase. For users who use their laptops for time-critical work with no margin for downtime, it must be noted that most Fujitsu service centers in Asia Pacific operate only during office hours. There is no option to upgrade the warranty terms.