Review: A no thrills thriller
Supplied by: IT Computers Sarajevo
Recently we tested two very compact and very different notebooks, MSI's Crystal edition PR200, and the notorious Eee PC. The first one targets businesswomen, executives, while the latter tries to kick some spare cash out of students' pockets (lunch money well spent, if I may add). On their way to becoming executives, the kids who are buying Eee PCs today will most likely have to spend some time climbing up the corporate ladder and that's where today's notebook fits in.
The Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Li2727 is an affordable, no thrills 15.4" notebook with some nice specs and plenty of storage. It's cheap, but while the cheapest notebooks on the continent retail for €350+ and well equipped DTRs with discrete graphics sell for about €700+, FSC's Amilo Li2727 fits somewhere in between. It's not a Celeron powered toy, nor is it a feature-packed, breathtaking piece of machinery.
In terms of hardware it's nothing spectacular, but there's really very few things to complain about. It packs a dual core Intel T2370 at 1.73GHz with 1MB L2 cache, 2GB of memory at 533MHz and a huge 250GB Western Digital hard drive spinning around at 5400RPM. This is much more than you would expect on such a machine, and the only thing you could miss is some graphics power. Its Intel X3100 is, well, an Intel IGP and we all know what that means. But you can't really ask for more at this price point now, can you?
You're not supposed to play games on a notebook, anyway, and no matter how hard the PR people try to market gaming notebooks, just face it, it just wasn't meant to be. Hence, the X3100 will do just fine for most people and so will the 15.4-inch 1,280x800 glare screen. It's a bit too reflective for our taste, especially when the notebook is running on battery power and when the brightness is lowered. What we would have liked to see was HDMI output, but it's still reserved for pricier notebooks.
Keep it simple
The design is clean and simple, an understatement, not exciting by any means. We actually began to like its simplicity, as it made the whole package look a bit slimmer and more elegant than most cheap notebooks. As you can see in the pictures, it looks slimmer than you might expect from a 2.7kg 15.4-inch notebook measuring 355x255x24~34mm. The uncluttered sides help, as well.
The top of the lid is silver, adorned with a transparent Fujitsu Siemens logo. It looks nice, helps with the slim design thing FSC has going and it's the only part of the case that doesn't sport the rugged, black finish. The black plastic might a bit too rough for some people, but at least it looks and feels very durable.
On the sides you'll find the bare essentials: four USBs and the power connector on the left hand side, a well hidden optical drive and Kensington slot on the right.
The audio connectors are placed on the front side (guess what, they're black too). This is not the best place for them, especially if you're gonna use VoIP frequently or watch movies on the road (less likely considering size and battery life). The S-video, DSub and LAN connectors are on the back. Surprisingly, there's no memory card reader. Some users might miss it, but very few people will miss the modem connector which is also absent.
And here's the full frontal shot, or full bottom shot. Note the fan intake. It's not too loud to begin with, but you can jump to silent mode and reduce the CPU frequency on some SKUs, thus keeping the machine silent.
The battery is rather compact, a 6-cell 4400mAh unit. Once you click it in there's still some slack, but not too much. It performed well, managing just over two hours (2:02) in our DVD test. We used Apocalypse Now Redux for the test and the Amilo capitulated while Martin Sheen was having dinner with the colonial French.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Moving on to the really important aspects of the unwilling test subject, Amilo's input devices, or should we say, the charcoal keyboard and touchpad.
The keyboard layout is good; furthermore it just feels right under your fingers and this is far more important. You can easily get used to a clumsy layout, but never to poor quality. It might have been just a tad less soft, but this is no big deal. The enter key is quite large, and so are the Shift and Control keys. This leaves us with very little to whine about and we hate when that happens. Ah, the cursor keys could have been a bit bigger. They're narrow, placed closely together and that's about it. Everything else is spot on.
The touchpad, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. It's huge, but also a bit slow for our liking, it just needs some time getting used to. You won't get used to the lack of a scroll bar that easily, especially if you've used a notebook with a scroll bar earlier. The touchpad buttons are, however, first class. They're large and they feel sturdy, but they don't make up for the aforementioned shortcomings.
With the keyboard and the touchpad out of the way, let's take a look at the rest of the features you're likely to need in everyday use. You needn't worry about connectivity. The Realtek LAN and Atheros Wlan will make short work out of your networking needs. One thing you should keep in mind is that there's no modem on this thing. So, if you're likely to travel to a Third World country, you should consider this as a drawback. In case you travel a lot, a 15.4-inch notebook will be too big and too heavy for you, anyway.
All four USBs are on the right hand side, so if you're gonna connect a mouse you'll have to stretch the cable behind the Amilo. On the upside, the other devices you connect to it won't impede your work if you're using a mouse, leaving the right side free of any cables. If you're left handed, disregard what we've just said - you're in trouble.
There's no memory card reader, either, but we guess you can always get yourself a combo card with an integrated USB connector. The dual layer optical drive looks nice, it's well hidden, but it's also a bit noisy. With a 250GB hard drive, there's plenty of storage and there's really no reason to rely on DVDs, anyhow.
The speakers aren't great, but in all honesty they're no worse than on most low-cost notebooks.
The Cinebench 1 CPU score is 1676, while the X CPU score is 3132. Multiprocessor speed-up is 1.87. Not many surprises here.
As expected, Intel's X3100 buries the 3Dmark 06 score. Just 457 marks, but this isn't a gaming rig, so this score really doesn't matter that much. However, the CPU score matters, and 1380 is not bad for a low-end notebook.
Although Intel's T2370 1.73GHz CPU is not a high-end solution, it's still a much better choice than a similarly clocked dual core AMD. We tested an Athlon 64 X2 TK53 (1.7GHz) powered notebook last year, here, and the T2370 on the Amilo outperforms it by 16% in Drystone and 13% in Whetstone tests. Basically, the T2370 is powerful enough to cope with most applications you're likely to use on a notebook.
The Amilo Li2727 is a workhorse, a grunt. There's no fancy design details or features, but it gets the job done. We think we were a bit too harsh in some aspects, so let's get one thing straight: in the end there's really not much to complain about.
It looks nice, the keyboard and touchpad are good, albeit the touchpand could use a scroll bar. The build quality is good, it's got a dual core CPU, enough memory to cope with Vista's cravings and a spacious 250GB HDD. Its performance is not stellar, but it's more than adequate. The dual-core Pentium T2370 is clocked at 1.73GHz, has 1MB L2 cache and uses a 533MHz bus. The memory is also runs at 533MHz and the 5400rpm HDD is quite fast and quiet.
There's no Webcam, card reader, Firewire, ExpressCard, fingerprint reader and other fancy stuff. However, most people don't really need these features, anyway (we don't). Thanks to its spartan design, FSC managed to keep the price down and that's where the Amilo Li2727 really stands out from the crowd.
At €550 you'd be hard pressed to find better value for money. Most similarly priced machines come with half the storage of the Amilo, less memory and even with a single core CPU in some cases. What's more, FSC offers an even cheaper SKU, powered by a T2310 at 1.46GHz, with 2GB of RAM and a 160GB HDD. It's priced at just €479 and that's quite a bargain. You also get a 2-year warranty, but that's nothing unusual nowadays.
To sum up, it's a relatively fresh, no thrills brand name notebook with a great price/performance ratio. Good for students, the proletariat and companies. The Amilo Li2727 is hands down the best bang per buck we've seen in a long time and with a little help from its friend, "the Price Tag," it proudly earns our Top Value award.
Processor: Pentium dual core T2370 at 1.73GHz, 1MB L2 cache, 533MHz bus
Chipset: Intel GL960 Express
Graphics: Intel X3100, up to 358MB shared memory
Memory: 2x1024MB DDR2 at 533MHz
Screen: 15.4", 1280x800 BrilliantView (glare)
Hard Disk: WD2500BEVS-22UST0 (SATA150, 5400rpm)
Optical Drive: DVD+/-RW dual layer
LAN: Realtek RTL801 10/100 MBit/s Ethernet LAN PCI-e
WLAN: Atheros AR5007 Wireless LAN 802.11b/g
Audio: Realtek ALC268, 2x1.5W speakers
1x RJ-45 LAN
1x Headphones, line out, Stereo 3.5 mm
1x Line-In (mono mic)
Battery: 6-cell, 11.1V, 4400mAh
Battery Life: ca. 2h 02m (DVD playback)
Windows Vista Home Premium, 2-year warranty