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Fujitsu Lifebook A530 review

Barry de la Rosa
10 Jan 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
537
inc VAT

Good performance and decent build quality, but the screen isn't the best, and battery life is poor.

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Although Fujitsu's notebooks are designed for business use, the difference is usually only aesthetic. The Lifebook A530's design is typically corporate, but not unattractive. It has the latest Core i3-370M processor, so it's no slouch. On top of that, you get a full-sized ExpressCard slot, which lets you add a variety of peripherals such as TV tuners, 3G modems and extra ports.

Fujitsu Lifebook A530

In our benchmarks, the A530 managed a respectable overall score of 84. In the single-threaded test it scored 97, but our multi-tasking test, the two cores meant it could manage only 70. Battery life isn't wonderful at three and a half hours and, at 2.5kg the A530 is going to be a weight on your shoulder compared to an ultra-portable.

There's no dedicated graphics chip, but this should be of little consequence for business - the integrated graphics can still handle HD video. Unfortunately, the speakers are underpowered, with hardly enough volume to fill a meeting room. There are HDMI and VGA outputs for hooking up a projector or larger screen.

The 15.6in screen has a matt finish to reduce reflections from overhead lights, but this also has the effect of making colours appear muted and reducing contrast. Photos looked far flatter and lacked punch compared to laptops with glossy screens.

Fujitsu Lifebook A530 right side

Another business-friendly feature is the ExpressCard slot, which lets you add a variety of devices such as 3G dongles and port replicators. As the A530 lacks a variety of expansion ports such as eSATA, USB 3.0 or FireWire, this adds some flexibility, especially if you have a specific device with a different connector. There are three USB ports, and networking is fully covered with support for Bluetooth, 802.11n WiFi and Gigabit Ethernet. The 320GB hard disk is stingy at this price, but is still fit for purpose.

Fujitsu Lifebook A530 left side

While some might find the A530's design a bit dated, we found it made a pleasant change from the shiny metal-effect plastic currently popular with consumer models. Moreover, we felt reassured by the build quality, especially the sturdy screen hinge.

There's a four-column numeric keypad to the right of the keyboard, and the layout is standard, with a full complement of function and page navigation keys. Each key has a flat top, with a small cutaway on each side to provide a gap between keys so it's less likely you'll mis-hit adjoining keys. We found the action light and crisp, with plenty of feedback for touch-typists. The touchpad is on the small side and lacks a scrolling area, but it's responsive and the two buttons have a light action.

If you want a laptop for entertainment, look elsewhere, but the A530 is a decent performer. However, there are lighter, longer lasting alternatives for less money, such as budget models in the Acer Timeline range.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorIntel Core i3-370M
Processor clock speed2.4GHz
Memory3.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
Size38x378x252mm
Weight2.5kg
SoundRealtek HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size15.6 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA HD
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory128MB

Storage

Total storage capacity320GB
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11b/g/n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/54
Supported memory cardsSD, Memory Stick Pro
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Professional 64-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore disc
Software includedMicrosoft Office 2010 Starter, Nero Essentials S

Buying Information

Warrantyone year collect and return
Price£537
Detailswww.fujitsu.com
Supplierhttp://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk

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