The Fujitsu LifeBook A6010 takes the load off your shoulders. It weighs just 6 pounds, making it the lightest 15.4-incher in our current all-purpose test group. I also loved the keyboard, but not the four-cell battery, which lasted 1 hour, 32 minutes -- less than half as long as the batteries of most other notebooks.
Our US$1,419 test machine came with a 1.66-GHz Core 2 Duo T5500 processor and 2GB of system RAM. It earned a WorldBench 5 score of 95, a mark that's below average among currently tested all-purpose notebooks but plenty powerful for mainstream computing.
Depending on how you configure it, the A6010 can be a light entertainment unit or a budget business laptop. Our test model came standard with the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system and a Windows remote control. (Fujitsu also offers the option of a $120 AverMedia AverTV USB 2.0 PVR TV Tuner.) This is not a world-class multimedia notebook on a par with the likes of the Toshiba Qosmio, however. The speakers are weak, and one-touch play (directly launching a movie or CD without starting Windows) is not an option. To turn the A6010 into a more business-oriented laptop, you can ditch the remote control ($30 off the price) and upgrade to Windows XP ($350 more). Improving the battery life will cost you another $109 for the high-capacity six-cell upgrade.
For most any mainstream buyer, the A6010 should be plenty of notebook. Other standard features include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless communications; a dual-layer DVD burner; a generous array of card slots, including ExpressCard, PC Card, and three-in-one (Memory Stick, SD, and xD-Picture Card); a nice user manual; and Microsoft Works 8.5. The 4200-rpm 120GB hard drive is slow but offers ample storage. The A6010 is completely user upgradable, with an accessible hard drive and memory compartments. I especially like this notebook line's lift-out battery, which you can release with just one hand. The system status panel, audio ports, and wireless communications switch are all on the front of the laptop for easy access.
The touchpad-equipped keyboard is a winner, easy to type on with the extra conveniences of volume buttons and user-programmable quick-launch buttons. The mouse buttons are small but comfortable and include a nice extra: a centered biometric fingerprint sensor that doubles as a page scroller.
My only design beef concerns the inconvenient locations of the USB ports. Two are on the back, and the third sits on the side next to the DC-in port, so you must rotate the end of the power cord out of the way to plug in a memory key or other USB peripheral.
Though it doesn't excel in any one area, the Fujitsu A6010 is a comfortable, easy-to-use notebook topped by an attractive black keyboard and silver lid. Budget shoppers who opt for the battery upgrade should go home happy.