Ultra-portable notebook manufacturers usually make several sacrifices in order to reduce weight and improve battery life. These can include using smaller screens, ditching the optical drive, and basically neutering the notebook to achieve the holy grail of ultimate portability. Not the Fujitsu Lifebook S6510 however. It lets you have all the features of a standard-sized notebook, while offering the weight and battery life of an ultra-portable. Okay maybe it’s a tad heavier than a true ultra-portable at 4lbs. but it’s still extremely portable, without any missing features.
Features and design
The S6510 is a notebook designed for corporate users, with corporate needs in mind. Paramount among those needs are reliability, security and portability.
This is a Centrino Duo notebook, so along with an Intel T7700 Core 2 Duo processor, which hums along at 2.4GHz and has 4MB of L2 cache, it also uses the new Intel 965 chipset, which has an 800MHz front side bus. This notebook has 4GB of DDR2 667MHz memory, but since it uses 32-bit Vista only 3.33GB is actually available to the operating system.
Video and Display
The star of the show here is the 14.1” LCD display, which is incredibly thin and is largely responsible for the notebook’s low weight. It’s a widescreen display with a glossy covering that Fujitsu calls Crystal View. Also contributing to the weight loss is the display’s magnesium alloy shell that is very thin yet incredibly rigid. The display is powered by onboard Intel graphics.
This notebook has something we have not seen before, which is Intel Turbo Memory. It’s a 1GB module of NAND flash memory that is integrated into the system to work alongside system RAM to improve performance. We think it’s similar to if you put a USB drive into your Vista machine and used it to improve system performance. According toIntel, “It works alongside your system’s RAM to increase the efficiency of data movement between the processor and hard disk.”
Yes, it has turbo memory! It certainly reminded us of the old turbo buttons on PCs.
The S6510 has a shock-mounted 120GB 5,400rpm SATA hard drive. The drive’s orientation and movement are tracked in real-time by an onboard sensor that monitor’s drive movement on the X, Y and Z axes. If it detects too much movement, it retracts the read/write heads to a safe zone (away from your data) to prevent a head crash.
The Shock Sensor Utility measures drive movement along three axes to protect the drive.
Wireless and Networking
All the wireless bases are covered, with wireless A/B/G/ and Draft-N WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet and support for Bluetooth.
The unit we received for review includes a 6-cell battery, which should be good for around 4.5 hours according to Fujitsu. Also, this notebook includes a modular bay that can accept an extra battery, which will push battery life up to 6.5 hours respectively.
OS and software bundle
Like any business notebook, the S6510 comes shipped with…Vista Business! Not a big surprise, as every corporate notebook we’ve reviewed has included this version of Vista. The notebook also includes trial versions of Norton Internet Security and Office 2007.
Ports and Connectors
We see three USB ports, a Kensington lock, 56K modem and the DVD-R/RW/CD-R/RW drive.
Here we have an Ethernet port, AC jack, VGA-out, 4-in-1 media reader and a PCMCIA slot.
The rear of the unit simply holds the 6-cell battery and another Kensington lock slot.
Like most corporate notebooks, the S6510 has a biometric fingerprint scanner. It can be used to both log into the Windows profile, and also to log into any websites that have a password field. The S6510 also has a “security panel,’ which is a row of numbered keys below the LCD. These can be used as a “combination lock” of sorts that would require the user to press the correct code to boot the PC. This notebook also has a TPM module, which in the future might be used for user verification and enhanced data security.
You can log into both the computer and password-protected websites via the fingerprint scanner.
Use and Testing
We put the S6510 through our standard testing regimen which involves using it for several weeks like we would any other notebook, and came away pretty impressed. At first glance you would think it’s the same weight as any other notebook that is similar in size, but it’s incredibly light. Our own personal notebook is a 14.1” Dell that seems like a brick in comparison.
The S6510 was always snappy and responsive in Windows, and we never sensed any slowness or sluggishness through general use. It’s Windows Experience Index score of 3.4 was totally dragged down by its onboard graphics. Most of its hardware scored rather high on the scale.
The S6510’s low Experience Index score is the result of the onboard Intel graphics.
Hard drive shock
The onboard drive monitor software seems pretty cool, and would show us a warning whenever we tilted the notebook a bit. What’s even cooler is you can actually adjust the sensitivity of the sensor, going as far to adjust the sensitivity along individual X, Y and Z axis of movement. You can also set it to automatically lock the notebook with a password if it senses it is being carried.
Tilt the S6510 a bit and the shock sensor notifies you that it’s moved the drive heads for safety.
Fujitsu claims that the included 6-cell battery last about 4.5 hours, but since these claims are always just a bit inflated we tested by looping a DVD movie. In our tests, we were able to squeeze out three hours and 20 minutes from the S6510, which is pretty good but obviously less than the stated specification. Fujitsu also offers an extra battery that can be wedged into the notebook’s “modular bay,” which also houses the optical drive. Fujitsu claims both batteries bring the total battery life up to 6.5 hours, but we did not test this claim since we didn’t receive the additional battery.
The S6510 has two main security devices; the onboard fingerprint scanner and the Security Panel, which doubles as a set of quick-launch keys. The fingerprint scanner worked wonderfully. We registered two fingers with short swipes, and this then became the de facto login routine for the computer, which is great.
You have to “enroll” your fingers into the scanner program, but the enrollment process is painless.
Once we had enrolled our fingers we found that the biometric scanner could also attach website passwords to your fingerprint, which is awesome. We logged into a few sites, had the software remember the password, and the next time we went to the site we just swiped our finger and it logged us into our Gmail account, for example.
The biometric scanner can also let you log into websites with the swipe of your finger.
Aside from the finger scanner there’s a security panel beneath the LCD. The row of numbered keys function as customizable shortcut keys in Windows (one opens IE, one opens calculator, etc), but they can be configured to be a combination lock of sorts. You’d have to punch in the correct combination of keys to boot the PC, or at least that’s what we were told. We tried to set it up but it said it needed a supervisor password first, which we did not have. Our guess is it requires a domain administrator to configure it, which makes sense.
These keys can be configured to be a combination lock of sorts, where pressing the right sequence allows the notebook to boot.
Spill proof keyboard?
Fujitsu claims the S6510 has a spill-proof keyboard. This is made possible by an internal membrane and collection tray that contain the liquid and keeps it away from the electrical components. We’ve seen a lot of notebooks bite the dust due to spilled liquids over the years, so we decided to test it out. We turned the notebook on and filled a measuring cup with a bit of water, and then slowly poured it onto the keyboard. All of the liquid simply disappeared underneath the keys! Curious, we then picked it up and tilted it over the sink and all the water came pouring out like we were pouring it out of a pitcher or something. The notebook remained on the whole time and nothing bad ever came of it. Verdict: The spill-proof keyboard is the real deal, and works brilliantly.
We tested the spill-proof keyboard, and it passed with flying colors.
According to the Intel utility that ships with the system, there is 1GB of Intel Turbo Memory on this notebook, but we never able to tell if it was doing anything. This system already has 4GB of RAM so it doesn’t really need any assistance on that front. Intel claims it would help the system boot faster, but the system booted in 1:15 which is nothing special.
The S6510 is certainly a very good notebook and it’s definitely the lightest notebook of its size that we’ve ever tested. The built-in security features all worked quite well and we didn’t experience any problems or have any issues in testing. We especially like the spill-proof keyboard! Our only complaints are that it looks extremely ordinary (maybe that’s another one of its anti-theft measures!?) and it seems quite expensive given its mid-range hardware.
• Very portable
• Big screen given its weight
• Good battery life
• Lots of technological features
• Plain looks