Fujitsu Siemens – Amilo Mini UI 3520 review

netbook with clip-on lids for personalising the look
Photo of Fujitsu Siemens – Amilo Mini UI 3520
£228.00 + VAT

The Amilo Mini UI 3520 might have a name that doesn’t really trip off the tongue, but for little more than £200 it is a serviceable netbook.

The standard Intel Atom N270 processor provides the main power in this netbook; the newer N280 has barely surfaced as we write. There is 1GB of RAM and the operating system is Windows XP Home. A webcam, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are par for the course.

The 8.9-inch screen delivers 1024 x 600 pixels and it is certainly good enough for a computer in this class. The 60GB hard drive is welcome and should provide enough capacity for you to carry quite a lot of music, movies or other files around. There’s an 80GB option too, though there are netbooks with 120GB hard drives available for a similar price.

Its connectivity holds few surprises: anyone who has been following the development of netbooks will recognise the array as a standard setup. There are two USB ports, an Ethernet connector for wired networking, SD card reader, microphone and headphones slots and VGA out. It is a pleasant surprise to see an ExpressCard slot, though: a rarity in a netbook and a real differentiator for this model.

So far everything is sound enough, then. And we’re quite big fans of the build too. It is solid and sturdy and the plastic has a slightly shiny finish which is enough to make it look appealing without being the fingerprint magnet that some shiny plastics can be. The design is distinctive with some nice curves and angles in the chassis. Some people may find it distinctly unappealing, others may be drawn to it.

One real point of difference from other netbooks is that you can slip a plastic cover onto the lid to change the colour scheme. Ours came with a dark red one. It is a clever idea, but there is no clasp holding the second lid in place so it may not stay firmly in place in a bag. ‘Lid’ options include a transparent one which you could fill with personalising photos. The possibilities, then, are endless.

The wide touchpad has its mouse buttons to the left and right rather than below. We found this makes them a little awkward to use. Still, we’ve seen this design before in netbooks and some people get along fine with it. It’s a personal matter, really, and you’ll only know if it works for you after trying it.

The keyboard is more of a let-down. The keys feel a bit cramped and if you have large hands you may struggle. Of their very nature netbooks have a small keyboard area, but in this case the design does not use the full width available, which is a little galling. There is a lot of flex in the keybed too.

Company: Fujitsu Siemens

Contact: 0800 004 003


Verdict
This is a fair attempt at a netbook but the poorly thought-out keyboard lets things down. You can get more for your money if you shop around.