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Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Mini Ui 3520 - Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Mini Ui 3520
Don't like the Amilo Mini's white lid? Well, this little netbook is uniquely customisable. You see, instead of bringing it out in a range of different colours, Fujitsu-Siemens has various colours of lid-cover you can attach to the netbook, much like on those Nokia mobiles of a few years ago. Except here, rather than removing the netbook's default lid, you simply clip the new one over it.
Installation is thus really simple. Getting it off again is also easy - sometimes a little too easy, as opening the netbook up can result in the clip-on cover inadvertently coming off. However, with a little care it's solid enough. A Burgundy Red cover comes with the Amilo by default, but you can also purchase black, blue or pink ones, which come with an additional transparent cover for around £20.
This transparent cover is particular unusual, since it's designed to let you insert your own design or photograph, a 'feature' that sets this Fujitsu-Siemens machine apart from its competitors. So now you can walk around proudly displaying the TR logo on your netbook, with the hand-written words 'My Favourite Website' scrawled underneath...
Clearly this is a somewhat gimmicky feature, but if you enjoy customising your possessions this is an added bonus and those that don't care either way can safely ignore it.
Other optional accessories include a slim external DVD Writer drive for a pricey £100 and a slip case for a far more reasonable £14. While it's true that many netbooks, such as the MSI Wind, Eee PC and even NC10 come with cases, here you get that Burgundy cover instead.
Moving on, the Amilo Mini's connectivity is pretty much what you'd expect from a netbook, consisting of VGA and USB on the left, a memory card reader supporting SD/SDHC, MS/MSPro and MMC and 3.5mm audio jacks headphones and a microphone at the front. Another USB port, an Ethernet port and power socket can be found the right. There is also the unexpected and pleasant surprise of a 34mm ExpressCard slot, something very few netbooks offer.
Moving onto the keyboard and touchpad, unfortunately, does much to dispel earlier positives. The touchpad is an okay size and has a pleasant smooth surface, but as with the ill-fated HP 2133 Mini Note and indeed the Acer Aspire One, its buttons are located to the sides. Personally, I don't find this too much of a problem, especially since the Amilo Mini's are slightly easier to use. Unfortunately, the reason these buttons were located at the sides on the aforementioned machines was to make room for excellent keyboards, while the keyboard on the Amilo is frankly rubbish.
To put it simply, this is the virtually the same keyboard as that found on my 7in Eee PC 701! Despite good feedback, it has those same small, cramped keys that many will find difficult to hit and that same lousy placement of the right-Shift key beyond the upward cursor key. Fujitsu-Siemens hasn't even come close to utilising the available chassis space, although this is a crime shared with the Dell Mini.