Fujitsu Siemens – Amilo Xi2528 review

desktop-replacement notebook that's full of surprises
Photo of Fujitsu Siemens – Amilo Xi2528

At first glance, Fujitsu-Siemen’s Amilo Xi2528 looks like any other desktop replacement; in fact it looks more suited to the corporate environment than the home, with its sober dark grey and silver finish. But under the skin there are some surprises – no, make that real surprises – that make it an ideal system for the home.

First of all, the Xi2528 comes with two hard drives, in this case two Western Digital WD160BEVS, 160GB, 5,400rpm hard drives. They aren’t the fastest drives in the world, but they are stable and reliable.

Not only that but this is the first laptop we have seen that has an e-SATA (External SATA) port, which allows for fast data transfers and backups from the hard drives to an external e-SATA hard drive (which are becoming more readily available). Next up, Fujitsu has added an HDMI (with HDCP) port to enable the Xi2528 to output onto an HD TV or projector.

Performance-wise it’s a little disappointing, especially as at the heart of the system is one of Intel’s T7500 Core 2 Duo processors which runs at 2.2GHz and comes with a 800MHz FSB and 4MB of L2 cache. It also uses the latest Intel mobile chipset, the 965PM Express / ICH8-DO combination. Backing this lot up is 2GB of PC2-5300 memory steaming along at 667MHz, and with the laptop only supporting 2GB of memory the only thing you can do to upgrade the memory is to go for faster-clocked modules. The memory seems to be what’s holding the Xi2528 back, as it only scores 4.8 on Vista’s own benchmark while the rest of the system scores 5 and above.

This is one system you won’t be lugging around all day, as it weighs in at an impressive 4.2kg (including AC adapter) and measures 408 x 291 x 35mm. But the size of the chassis offers some advantages, like a full-sized keyboard complete with a full-sized numeric pad.

The keyboard feels right, has a high build quality and is comfortable to type on, while the trackpad has a slightly roughened surface which feels better than the normal smooth finish, and there is also a vertical scrolling function built into it. In front of the trackpad sit two mouse keys while at the top of the keyboard sits a row of touch-sensitive indicators that form the multimedia LightTouch bar.

Powering the screen is an Nvidia GeForce Go 8600M GS graphics controller with 256MB of dedicated video memory. This, by using TurboCache technology, is able to use up to 767MB of system memory, which gives the Xi2528 a reasonable frame score of 40fps in F.E.A.R, i.e. playable if you turn down some of the detail settings. The screen itself is a 17-inch WXGA unit with Fujitsu’s BrilliantView technology and a native resolution of 1,440 by 900 pixels. There’s also a 1.3-megapixel Web-cam built into the top of the screen.

There are plenty of ports on the Xi2528, in addition to the previously mentioned ones, but surprisingly most are to be found on the rear of the chassis, with just a 5-in-1 card reader and a single USB port (which has a charging function) on the right-hand side, while the left-hand side contains two audio ports and an Express card port in addition to the dual-layer DVD burner.

As well as the HDMI port, the rear of the chassis holds single VGA and S-Video ports, two USB ports, the e-SATA port, a 4-pin FireWire port and ports for the V.90 modem and the Gigabit wired LAN. For wireless networking there is 802.11a/g/n and you also get Bluetooth 2.0 for good measure.

Company: Fujitsu Siemens

Contact: 01344 475 000

The old saying "Never judge a book by its cover" is very apt for the Amilo Xi2528. It may look a bit of plain Jane on the outside, but inside Fujitsu-Siemens has bundled nearly every desirable feature you can think of. If they upped the graphics spec this would be one Hell of a system, but as it is it's a very capable, well priced desktop replacement notebook.