After more than 6 years with my old notebook (a HP Omnibook XE3 with a mobile PIII processor, 256 MB memory and a 20GB hard disk) I finally bought a new laptop.
My wish list for the new computer was:
- A small screen, maximum 14 inch
- Light weight
- A dual core processor
- At least 1024 MB of memory
- A reasonable sized hard disk (at least 80GB)
- Good battery live
- No glare screen
- A docking station with DVI
- Reasonable priced
Quite a list, right? So, as always in life, I had to make some compromises. I had to sacrifice a few of the requirements listed above, but I think I have found a product that came quite close to “my ideal notebook”.
Before purchasing I was observing the market for quite a while – a few years to be honest. 😉
But let’s talk about the FSC Amilo Si 1520. First of all I will show you a table with the key characteristics of the subnotebook:
|Screen:||12.0” LCD WXGA (1280 x 800) display with CrystalView Technology|
|Processor:||Intel® Core™ 2 Duo processor T7200|
|Ports:||4(!!) USB 2.0, SPDIF, DVI-I, IEEE 1394 port, Bluetooth®, WLAN, LAN, etc.|
Enough theory now, let’s go into the details. I have read a lot of reviews and test before buying and most of the reviews were true!
The screen is a shiny one – exactly what I did not want to buy. However, it is very hard to find notebooks without the glare displays, so I had to go with it. Sometimes it is really annoying, especially when the background is quite bright. What surprised me was that even with reflections the screen content can still be seen pretty well. I would have never thought that. I am still not totally convinced by the shiny displays, but at least I can accept them. And colours ARE brilliant.
Strange: Just as you can read in the review of Notebookjournal.de on my screen you can see some strange dots on the top. Those dots appear only in certain conditions and in practice they can hardly be noticed.
12″ for sure is not for everyone. It is definitely my limit. It is nice when you travel, but for every days work a slightly bigger screen would be more comfortable. My eyes are pretty well, so I have no problem. But I would not recommend a 12″ laptop with the resolution of 1280*800 for everyone. Go to your local dealer and have a look at the 12″ models.
The good thing is, that you can connect the Si1520 to a big flat screen via DVI-I, while you are at home. Here the docking station is really missing. I would have been willing to spend an other 200 Euros on an other FSC product, if they would offer one of those port replicators. It is just so convenient (I use it at work every day).
The processor, memory & hard disk
There is nothing much to say about Intel’s Core 2 Duo processor, I guess. It is too fast for most of my purposes anyway. But Windows Vista is quite hungry for power and you would like to be prepared for the future. The computer will have to last at least 6 years, like my HP one.
I really wanted at least 1GB of memory and the 2048 MB are also not a bad idea, as the computer comes with Windows Vista Home Premium. Especially if you want to do digital imaging you can never have enough memory.
The hard disk with 160GB is big enough to give you a lot of reserves. I will run Ubuntu or Kubuntu parallely to Windows Vista, so it is not bad to have a little more of disk space. 160GB for a notebook is nice to have, but definitely not necessary.
This little computer has a total of four USB 2.0 plugs. The best thing is how they are distributed: There are 2 on the right side between the modem and the microphone, one at the back right (ideal for a USB mouse) and one on the left side, just next to the LAN. The Si1520 comes also with Firewire to connect with digital video cameras or external hard disks. The DVI-I allows you to connect digitally or analogue to a high resolution flat screen monitor. So if you are at home you can work with a external monitor, keyboard and mouse.
This laptop is very complete when it comes to ports. So far I do not miss anything.
I did not use the bluetooth module so far, as I do not have any other product with bluetooth. The WLAN works very well. This computer found many more WLANs in my area than any other computer that I had here at home.
In general I am very happy about the notebook. It is small, lightweight, has a lot of ports, is fast and pretty.
Occasionally the computer gets a little loud when the fan starts to cool the processor. On the right side it can also get quite warm, but is still acceptable. The keyboard is not as bad as often mentioned. Yes, it goes slightly down when you write, but I only noticed this because I was specifically looking for it. It did not influence my typing negatively so far. After a while you get used to the small shift buttons (that is a tribute to the small size). In general the distribution of the buttons on the keyboard is nice.
I can definitely recommend this notebook. For this money you will probably not find a better offer for a light but fully equipped sub-notebook.
At the moment it seems to be very hard to get. Most shops at Geizhals.at/de do not have the computer on stock and I got it basically only because I was lucky and checked every day for availability in one of the more trustworthy shops. Finally I bought it at Notebooksbilliger.de (my old notebook was bought there too).