Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Si2636 review
Good looks, a Penryn processor and a long list of features, all for a bargain price.
Fujitsu-Siemens have taken a leaf out of Apple's book and made an effort to house its latest mid-range laptop - the Si2636 - in suitably attractive packaging. It might just be cardboard with a lick of matte black paint, enlivened by the odd red highlight, but when you're spending several hundred pounds of your hard-earned cash, even the smallest hint of luxury can make all the difference.
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And it's partly thanks to the theatrical presentation that we mistook the Si2636 for a far pricier laptop; that and the fact that it's an attractive looking laptop in the first place. The glossy black lid may have become a bit of a laptop design cliché, but Fujitsu has added its own twist with a metallic red trim that snakes around the laptop's edge. Smooth lines and gentle curves make the Fujitsu Siemens exceptionally easy on the eye, and it's hard not to love stylish touches such as the display housing, which gently tapers in towards the hinge.
That curvy display doesn't just look good with the Fujitsu sitting dormant on a desk. The native resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, which stretches across the 13.3in diagonal, provides an impressively bright image. Technical tests revealed some less impressive traits however, and pure blacks consistently looked far too much like dark grey. The poor vertical viewing angles don't help matters, and although tilting the screen away from our seating position made blacks look less grey, it came at the expense of overall contrast. Accurate, vibrant colour reproduction goes some way to making up for all this, however, and our test photos looked stunningly vivid and three-dimensional.
The Si2636's relatively compact dimensions are another facet of its alluring charms. At 2.24kg it doesn't rival the most slender of ultraportables, but it's light enough to regularly carry about on your travels.
Unfortunately, the Fujitsu's design touches end up compromising its build quality. While its base exhibits only the slightest hint of flex and feels well constructed, the display feels markedly less robust. Try carrying the Fujitsu from room to room and the weak hinge struggles to keep the display in place. The lid itself looks beautiful, but it's highly flexible and we didn't have to put much pressure on it before ripples of distortion began to blight the displayed image. The lack of lid clasps could be an issue too: to keep the glossy lid and display pristine and scratch free we'd advise investing in a good quality laptop bag.
Ergonomically it's a similar story, with a good start undermined by unnecessary compromises elsewhere. The keyboard is competent, and though it has a few shrunken keys here and there, they don't impair its usefulness. The full-sized keys do feel a touch squidgy, but the sensible layout helps make light of typing for long stretches.
The trackpad, isn't as good. Its circular shape looks fantastic, but depressing either of the two buttons is made difficult by their overly narrow width. Spending a few days with the Si2636 helped us to acclimatise to their odd shape, but we'd rather have sacrificed looks for a more practical design in the first place.
That's not to say that the Si2636 is a laptop entirely lacking in practicalities, however. The 1.3 megapixel webcam, located along the display's upper bezel, is accompanied by a sliding catch which not only protects the tiny lens when it's not in use, but disables it completely to minimise energy consumption.