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Fujitsu Siemens Amilo L1310G
While the adage, "you get what you pay for" has much truth to it it most cases, it's pleasing to see that you don't have to spend a fortune to get a decent notebook. With the AMILO L1310G, Fujitsu Siemens has set out to create an affordable notebook with no crippling compromises and by and large, it has succeeded.
The sticker on the front of the chassis is an indicator of the first area of cost saving. The badge says Intel Celeron M inside, rather than Pentium M. The difference between the two is that the former has half the Level 2 cache, 1MB, and does not feature SpeedStep power saving technology, which powers down parts of the processor when it detects that it's not required. This is probably the biggest drawback of the system as on the move the CPU will be running at full pelt all the time - not great when the battery life isn't outstanding in the first place. This is also why Intel doesn't afford the Centrino branding to Celeron M powered machines, even if Wi-Fi is built in, as it is here.
However, I don't see this being bought for regular use on the move. For one, , at 2.8Kg, it's a bit too heavy to be comfortable carrying every day and it's also on the bulky side. At least you're compensated by the presence of a decent keyboard with keys that are sensibly sized and arranged. The keypad is also very solid with none of the flex that cheap notebooks often have. This makes the AMILO really quite comfortable to type on. The trackpad is a run-of-the-mill affair but I did find that I unintentionally tapped it on several occasions sending my cursor off into uncharted waters. I prefer trackpoints but you're not going to see that at this price.
Should you place it on your lap you'll find that the notebook is well balanced and comfortable, at least at first. After extended use, the warm air expelled out of the CPU fan on the underside and on the right will start to hurt your heat up your leg uncomfortably. When CPU temperature gets too high the fan spins up and is noticeable, but it didn't spin up while watching a DVD.
The largish size also means you're provided with a very decent 15.4in widescreen display. The 1,280 x 800 resolution isn't the highest at this size, but it's what you'd expect at this price. There a coating on the screen that boosts colour and contrast at the expense of increased reflectivity but it's not too bad in this regard, even under lights. The wide screen certainly does no harm when you're watching DVDs, and delivered a smooth performance when tested with a fast motion film such as House of the Flying Daggers. The combination of CPU and screen also means that there's enough grunt to watch 720p content without dropped frames, when tested with a H.264 encoded film trailer from www.apple.com/trailers.