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I would like to start this review with a little guide on how to best choose new laptop. Reason for that is that I just bought one recently and couple of them in the past so I believe that my advice could come useful if you decide to treat yourself with one of those new flashy high-tech items.
However, the first and most important things when purchasing the laptop is to find perfect balance between price and specification. Laptop would usually be much more expensive than desktop computer mainly because of their advantage of being portable
devices and very light. Bearing in mind that laptops are more complicated when in comes to hardware upgrade, you really need chose carefully and invest into product that would fulfil all your needs for years to come.
It makes life much easier if buyer knows what exactly wants to do with new computer. Different specifications are made for different purposes and in many occasions people are attracted by very good price. As soon as a new fancy toy arrives to its new home, buyer might find out that computer cannot play favourite computer game, run certain applications or just does not meet users requirements. And this is the point where the satisfaction converts into frustration and it might end up with taking back the computer to the store, maybe replacing for one with higher specs, but that all depends on what options our budget gives us.
It is always important to do good research and make clear decision about what we are going to use our computer for. Do we really need all that memory for just searching the Internet and word processing, or would our new Flight Simulator 2006 run with on board installed graphics card which shares memory with your RAM memory?
Maybe it could be a bit difficult to predict what we would like to do on our laptop in few years time, so from perspective of a new buyer we use commons sense and buy a machine we want to use it now, for things that we want to do now.
Anyway, I did make a list before making final decision and came up with some high requirements. The next step was to match my needs to my budget and see what would be the best value I can find on market.
My final choice was Fujitsu Siemens Amilo XI 1526.
I have been using Fujitsu Siemens laptop for few years and was really satisfied with it reliability and overall performance. My 7405 Amilo M served me for long time and it was copping with all tasks very well. When finally became insufficient for some advanced 3D graphics things I was doing, the decision was to get new more powerful one and of course I wanted to stay with FS, just because I trusted it.
Around the time when I decided to buy laptop, found out that I would also be eligible for Windows Vista upgrade, for small fee, as any other customer who purchases a computer with Windows XP after 01.10.2006, which is just great.
So what do you get when open the box
My new Amilo arrived in thick box, properly wrapped and protected from possible damage, as you would normally expect when purchasing fragile item.
First thing that attracted my attention were nice round edges of the screen and stylishly engraved Fujitsu Siemens logo in the middle of the back of the screen.
The screen itself is big 17” LCD Crystalview, big enough for users who do graphics or 3D work but also perfect for watching DVDs or slideshow of your digital pictures.
The view is almost same good quality from any angle you look at it and with slight adjustments more than one person can enjoy watching the film in the same time.
One thing is very important when it comes to laptops; hinges that attach your display to the base unit. In the past some of the manufacturers experienced lots of grievance from their customers due to hinges been made from bad quality materials, and cracks that would appear as a result of sudden temperature change after laptops was switched off.
As the battery would overheat, the whole laptop would suffer high temperature and as the hinges were the most moveable parts, the material could not cope with extreme temperature drop after being overheated for few hours.
Fujitsu Siemens had a battery exchange program in 2004 when they offered to replace batteries for some series of Amilo type but they did not offer to fix cracked hinges as they would not admit any relevance of this problem to overheated batteries issue.
However, their later series have seen better material quality (we usually talk about plastic from which the shell of laptop is made), so Amilo XI 1526 seems to be one of improved versions with promising life-span of reliably movable hinge parts as well as the rest of plastic parts.
Keyboard is massive and includes the numeric pad, which is useful if you are used to it.
It is quiet, and even space key does not make much noise (this one usually does on some laptops). There is a one problem with keyboard and it is size of some keys. Imagine that you have normal 15; laptop without numeric keypad and then decide to add this extension but soon realise there is not too much space for all of them.
The only option is to squeeze some of the key of right hand side, where your Enter, Backspace, Right Ctrl are; all those keys including all other next to them are smaller then rest of the letter keys in the middle.
When you need to use right space; in combination with any other key it is quite inconvenient due tiny size, so it might happen that you press wrong key, which after few times could be really annoying. Once when you get used to your new ergonomic (sort of)
reduced-size-buttons-for-your-convenience keyboard, there should not be any problem.
Touch-pad is placed in the middle of your base (if you exclude numeric pad the is slightly on the left) and there is a separated scroll touch-pad next to it used scroll web pages and documents. That comes very handy and it is very easy to get used to it.
I do prefer mouse to navigate around my screen by mouse but if you are on a train or plane or similar place where there is no space for your mouse, the touchpad with additional scrolling pad is a perfect solution.
Like most of new models it has a touchpad disable button just on the bottom of the keyboard, which when turned on illuminates in fluorescent blue colour. Again, very useful feature considering the fact that you dont really need touchpad when use a mouse, so by disabling it there is no fear of accidental mess up with your editable word or excel documents.
In left side corner there is a little tiny whole, which is your microphone. It is definitely better then those placed on the edge of your screen (like on many other laptops.) and closer to your mouth so person on the other side of the line can hear you better.
Well, that might not be always an advantage, but if you prefer to plug you own microphone, or speakers or headphones, there are ports for all those essential accessories on the left hand side.
I use VoIP quite a lot and found out that integrated microphone works just fine. I use Skype and Voipstunt and didnt have any problems as yet.
Another thing is two stereo speakers placed on each side on just above the keyboard. Inside the computer there is a Realtek sound card responsible for decent sound quality. plus Realtek HD audio manager software which helps you to customize your audio experience regarding your needs.
One small thing on the left side is volume control bottom, nice old classic wheel which is there just one touch far from your finger and no need to adjust sound by pressing any keys on the keyboard.
Although you can use Fn+F5 to increase sound or Fn+F6 to decrease it, if you are really addicted to use of shortcuts. To be honest, I do only few, copy, paste and this sort of things but guess that everyone has its own way to work on its keyboard.
Four USB port are just enough. Three on right-hand side and one on the left should be enough for all your peripherals, unless if you hate to unplug your USB cables every time
When do not really use the device. Well, I have to admit that the every time I unplug my digital camera cable from computer, next time I cant find it anymore.
Makes me thinking about buying an external hub to plug al cables into and never ever unplug them again. But that is completely different story.
Amilo X1 1526 has in-built card reader for most of memory card formats available
(SD Memory Card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, Multi-Media-Card) which is convenient for everyone who use them in their digital cameras, MP3 players, mobile phones..
But probably on of the best features of this laptop is integrated bluetooth technology.
Easy transfer of your files from any device with bluetooth is guaranteed. If you have a mobile phone and want to transfer images, music, video from your phone to the computer
or vice versa, forget about USB cables. Recent models of mobile phones have very good quality cameras, and if you are photo enthusiastic, your work can be transferred in no time and edited with photo imaging software.
You will also find video output port with possibility to connect your TV and computer
if you really fancy watching film of your TV while playing them on your Amilo.
If only TV’s could have bluetooth technology..
And what is inside
Amilo Xi 1526 is powered by Intel 2 Core processor on 1.83 Ghz (some have Intel Duo) and this is first guarantee for outstanding performance. Second feature is DDR II SDRAM - 533 MHz memory that comes in 2 x 512 MB and it is expandable up to 2 GB which to be honest in next few years will be an overall standard so it might be good idea to install additional 1 GB of memory and use your laptop to its full potential.
Graphics is managed by NVIDIA GeForce Go 7600 with 256 MB which is one of better graphics cards for laptops. It does all demanding graphic tasks including reliable high-resolution rendering of 3D objects and textures as well as 3D video files.
Computer games run smoothly and even very demanding memory-hungry titles like The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, Need for Speed Carbon, Far Cry & ;will run just perfect.
Every game usually has possibility to adjust graphics as per players preference and computer capability, and it could get very frustrating if your computer cant cope with your favourite title.
With Amilo Xi 1526 there is no fear; it will run almost every game on the market today, although I could not possibly test all of them, the last one I played was Prey, and the experience of playing it was just great. Not as much because of the game, but because I realised that my computer hasn;t got any problem to cope with highly set up anti-aliasing, as well as with high amount of details.
My Amilo has only 80 GB SATA which is not a lot of storage memory, but some version comes with 120 GB, which again could not be enough if you are multimedia enthusiastic and want to store large amounts of music or video, as well as have few high demanding games on your computer.
However, if you need more storage on HD then the only option is to buy external hard drive which today have reasonable price.
Is almost impossible to imagine any new laptop without DVD rewriter, so I will only mention the one installed in Amilo, which gives an option to read and write DVDs and CDs at 24x speed and rewrite them at 16x speed. Good quality device, reliable and didnt give me any problems so far.
It is also impossible to imagine new laptop without wireless network adapter, and Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG is the one that comes almost as standard in many FS laptops.
If you have wireless router set up in your home, Amilo will recognise network almost instantly and in no time you can use Internet while having a morning coffee and muffin in bed on Sunday morning. Yes, why not..
Amongst wireless connection, there is a possibility to connecting a network cable into Ethernet adapter, which is compliant with IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, and IEEE 802.11g standards.
Power adapter is a bit heavy and bulky. I havent seen size of power adapter so far and it is always a hassle to drag it around, and could be a problem when you travel with your laptop. Make sure that you get enough large case where your laptop and power adapter could find enough space as well as some additional things you might want to include.
Battery is 8-cell Lithium Ion and only lasts 2 hours approximately. There is a power saving mode where you can extend life span of one battery recharge, but 2 hours is not enough anyway. This laptop is massive power consumer so bear this in mind when you take it around, but when you need to recharge the battery it will take approx. 30.mins to complete, which could be considered as advantage.
So, why it is a good laptop?
It is stylish, massive and reliable machine that fulfils almost all your needs.
When I say almost, I believe that there are things that you my not be able to do such as 2 sessions of rendering and running high memory demanding computer game in the same time. Computer might struggle in this case, but there might not be many other one the market that could smoothly cope with such a tasks.
The price of this laptop varies from £780 - £900 depends on processor, which could be 1.66Ghz or 1.83Ghz and size of the HDD between 80 and 120 GB.
Considering all the features it is pretty good value, and you wont find many other machines on the market for less.
If you want to play high demanding games on decent size high quality display, work in 3D applications or CAD, watch DVDs, listen to music or just surf the Net while moving around the world or maybe when relaxing in bed, then Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 could be the right choice for you.