capsule review

Fujitsu LifeBook N6010

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Fujitsu LifeBook N6010 Notebook

Fujitsu LifeBook N6010
Photograph: Rick Rizner

This muscular beauty of a multimedia laptop boasts a built-in TV tuner and a 17-inch Crystal View wide-screen display with a readable and roomy native resolution of 1400 by 900 pixels. Whether you fill the screen with multiple side-by-side documents, a high-resolution photo, a big spreadsheet, or your favorite DVD movie, the view is stupendous.

The $2459 N6010 is a visually busy 10.2-pound black-and-silver unit with off-white upper casing and keyboard. Typing on the huge, extra-firm, touchpad-equipped keyboard is a treat, especially with the adjustable back foot popped out to provide a slant. The layout is outstanding, with the frequently used <Delete> and <Ctrl> keys in opposite corners where they're easy to find. Our only problem was that at first our hands kept drifting off to the right of the true center of the notebook; that's because the N6010's keyboard (like all 17-inch notebook's) is shifted to the left to accommodate the dedicated numeric keypad on the right side.

Equipped with the Windows XP Home (or optionally, XP Pro) operating system, rather than Windows Media Center Edition, the N6010 uses a Media Center-like blue-hued application called Instant MyMedia as its central multimedia software. The software lists all of your entertainment choices, and lets you watch, pause, or record live TV; watch DVD movies; or play CDs--all without booting Windows. You simply use the media buttons at the top of the keyboard or the included remote control, which works from up to 9 feet away. And you can listen in style: The front-mounted speakers are perhaps the best we've ever heard on a laptop. Boosted by the subwoofer on the underside of the notebook, they almost blow back your hair, making the N6010 a delightful stand-alone DVD, TV, and CD player.

Though attractive and easy to navigate, Fujitsu's knockoff software has fewer features than Media Center does. For instance, it lacks a radio tuner and a photo slideshow application; and the bare-bones CD player application doesn't provide a list of the tracks. We also prefer the Windows Media Center's integration of TV listings: With Media Center PCs, a simple click lets you download attractive and easy-to-navigate listings from the Internet.

The N6010's software setup requires you to register your location at TitanTV.com, a free TV listing service, and then make your viewing choices online. Once you've done so, you have to move your cursor over a listing, at which point a menu pops up with choices for recording or viewing. Though the service offers a handy Info feature about each show, we prefer not to have to connect to the Internet just to see what's on TV. On the other hand, we did like the TV application's Browse feature, which thumbnails all your listed stations with freeze frames. You can click around before deciding which station to watch at full-screen.

The laptop's connections include three USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, and an SD Card/Memory Stick slot. You also get a short coaxial cable adapter, which plugs into its antenna mini-jack on the left side of the case, where the TV tuner is built in. The laptop also provides RCA audio jacks and your choice of composite-in or S-Video-in ports to hook up external video devices such as a set-top box or a camcorder. Discs pop easily into a right-side multiformat DVD burner.

Like most laptops with 17-inch screens, the N6010 is not a memorable performer. Its battery lasted not quite 2 hours in our tests, and its WorldBench 5 score of 81 was unimpressive for a laptop with a 3.2-GHz Mobile Pentium 4 538 CPU and 1024MB of RAM. That score ties it with a previously tested Dell Inspiron 9100 that had half the RAM. Oh, but the screen!

Though not as well integrated as a Windows Media Center Edition-based laptop, the Fujitsu N6010 makes a tempting stand-alone DVD, TV, and CD player for home or dorm use.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Fujitsu LifeBook N6010 Notebook

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