Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1536
A well-spec'd Centrino Duo laptop at an affordable price
Looking around the sides of the Amilo Pi 1536, starting on the left-hand side, this is where the audio jacks are located. There are only two 3.5mm jacks – even though a 7.1-channel HD audio codec has been used - one for headphones and the other for a mic, but the headphone jack doubles up as an optical S/PDIF output. Kudos to Fujitsu-Siemens for fitting a volume control wheel, something that is missing from far too many laptops these days. This is also the side where the optical drive is located, although it seemed to have a fairly poor fit in the review sample. Finally, there are two USB 2.0 ports just below the top corner.
The rear is home to the RJ-11 connector for the 56Kbps modem, the power connector and the battery. Moving on to the right-hand side, we find a DVI connector and S-video out for connecting the Amilo Pi 1536 to external displays or projectors. Next up is the RJ-45 connector for the built-in Gigabit Ethernet controller. Then we have a four-in-one memory card reader, which supports MMC, SD, MemoryStick and MemoryStick Pro. The last two connectors are a four-pin FireWire connector and a USB 2.0 port. Finally, there is an Express Card slot that accepts both types of Express Cards. There is no PC Card slot, and there are no ports around the front, though there is a small switch here to enable and disable the wireless antenna.
The screen is a now-standard 15.4in unit with a resolution of 1,280 x 800. It has an anti-glare coating which Fujitsu-Siemens refers to as CrystalView. Just below the screen are a set of quick access buttons that launch your media player, web browser and email client. The fourth button is for low-noise operation - it disables the fans, but also slows down the CPU and GPU to reduce the heat produced. There’s also a speaker just below each of the screen hinges.
The keyboard is quite comfortable to type on, although it’s not the best I’ve used. The key travel is good and it’s not too bouncy. The only minor complaint I have is the location of the Fn key: it has taken up the space where you usually find the Ctrl key, which has here been moved one step inwards, but this is not unusual on notebooks. The touchpad is large and easy to use with a separate section that allows you to scroll up and down on pages. Fujitsu-Siemens has also fitted a button just above the touchpad that allows you to disable and enable it, which is very useful when you do a lot of typing.