capsule review

Fujitsu LifeBook A6030

At a Glance
  • Fujitsu LifeBook A6030

    PCWorld Rating

    Although not a best-of-class desktop replacement, the LifeBook A6030 offers a lot for the money, including stylus input.

You can use the Fujitsu LifeBook A6030's touchpad as a pointer and as a small writing pad. It won't replace a full-size tablet screen, but it's great for occasionally storing quick handwritten notes or drawings. Though this dark-silver notebook's battery life is disappointingly short, the unit is generously equipped for the price ($1449 as of July 15, 2007).

The optional ($50 extra) dual-purpose touchpad, which Fujitsu calls the Point and Write Pad, is the A6030's most interesting feature. It lets you write handwritten notes within an area of the touchpad, using the bundled stylus and pen-input software. What you write appears on an input line on the notebook's screen. (Unlike a tablet PC, the A6030 doesn't have a screen that you can write on.) I found that taking notes was laborious at first; you need good hand-to-eye coordination to write on the touchpad in a way that makes the strokes appear on its input line on screen. On the other hand, using the touchpad to make precise strokes in paint and draw programs was a snap from the get-go.

The A6030, with its integrated graphics system, isn't fast enough to support sophisticated games, which wouldn't sound good anyway over the notebook's undistinguished speakers. Still, this Windows Vista Home Premium unit earned a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 77. The A6030 ran for just 2.3 hours in our battery life tests, so leaving this 6.5-pound unit's power adapter behind is probably unwise. (Fujitsu does sell an extended-life battery, which we did not test).

We liked the A6030's spill-resistant keyboard. According to Fujitsu, it has a special coating and a collection tray to protect internal components. We also liked the comfortably bright 15.4-inch screen option (you can get an even brighter 450-nit option) and the handsome array of ports, including five USB ones. But primarily what makes the A6030 worth a look is the touchpad you can write on.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Although not a best-of-class desktop replacement, the LifeBook A6030 offers a lot for the money, including stylus input.

    Pros

    • Touchpad takes stylus input
    • Spill-resistant keyboard

    Cons

    • Weak speakers
    • Sub-par battery life
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