Fujitsu LifeBook S6231 Review (pics, specs)

Discussion in 'Notebook News and Reviews' started by lazyace, Jan 10, 2005.

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  1. lazyace

    lazyace Notebook Guru

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    by Richard Jamison, Florida USA

    The Fujitsu LifeBook S6231 is one of the newest models in the thin-and-light series of notebooks aimed primarily at the mobile business crowd. As I am finding out though, this notebook is well suited for just about everyone, except possibly, the hard core gaming crowd. While the 6231 will handle most average games, the Doom 3 folks should look in the direction of the Fujitsu N6010, Sager, CyberPower or Voodoo for a gaming notebook. The Lifebook 6231 will amaze you at how much Fujitsu packs into a very light-weight, quality built notebook.

    [​IMG]

    Fujitsu LifeBookS6231 (view larger image)

    Fujitsu S6231 Review Unit Specs

    • Intel Centrino 1.6ghz Mobile Processor (2mb L2 cache, 400mhz bus, Dothan core)
    • 13.3" XGA TFT Crystal View Display capable of a max. 1024x768 resolution
    • Windows XP Professional edition (retail version w/CD)
    • 512 MB DDR333 so-DIMM, 200 pin SDRAM (512MB x 1)
    • Intel 855GME Integrated Graphics
    • 60gb hard drive (4200 rpm)
    • Modular Super-Multi DVD drive (4x DVD-R, 2x DVD-RW, 24x DVD+R, 2.4x
    • DVD+RW, 2x DVD-RAM, 8x DVD read, 16x CD-R, 4x CD-RW)
    • SigmaTel AC97 codec with 6 channels stereo sound
    • Built-in multinational 56 K V.90 modem
    • Built-in 10/100 base-Tx Ethernet
    • Integrated Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG (802.11b/g)
    • 11.5"(w) x 9.3"(d) x 1.28"(h) (max)
    • Approximately 3.63 lbs with weight saver
    • Approximately 4.07 lbs with DVD/CD-RW combo drive
    • Visit Fujitsu's Web Site for more detailed specifications and configurations

    Purchase Experience

    I have owned several notebooks from various brands (Dell, HP, Twinhead) going back to the time when notebooks were first introduced. Some were good, some not. I considered an IBM ThinkPad (too businesslike) a Sony Vaio (too pricey) and, of course, another Dell (too chintzy). The 6231 is the first one that excited me beyond belief. My friends and family members are absolutely sick of me shouting the praises of this computer. They avoid me in hallways and no longer take my calls! In any event, I bought the 6231 because it offered great looks, light-weight and good overall performance specs for a thin and light laptop.

    After much "shopping" and perusing of internet vendor sites, user forums and price checker services, I bought this laptop from Portable One. The base price was $1499, but configured as above, I paid $1839 delivered via FedEx 2 day service. Portable One swapped in the 60 gb hard drive and changed the memory to a single stick. They also upgraded me to Windows XP Professional SP2 with CD. Windows Media Player 10 and even the Google Toolbar were installed, which was great as I wanted both of these applications. I considered a similar unit from NewEgg for $1804 delivered, but Portable One offered a three year Fujitsu warranty. I think it was a great deal and let me add, the folks at Portable One are top shelf. Their crew is very accommodating and helpful. I couldn't even tell that they had opened the factory sealed box and reconfigured the notebook. Everything was neatly and perfectly repacked. One of the people from Portable One management called me a few days after the unit shipped to ask if I was happy with the notebook and if he could be of any further service. Now that's great service!

    Packaging and Presentation

    Fujitsu's excellent packaging is very stout and secure. The notebook was suspended within the carton by two sturdy foam end caps after being wrapped and sealed in clear plastic. The accessories were securely packed in a separate box which filled out the balance of the open space within the Fujitsu carton. After taking inventory of everything I picked up the 6231. Carrying it to its home on my desk right away gave me the sense of how easy and wonderful it is to carry around a 4lb notebook.

    Design and Build

    [​IMG]

    Fujitsu LifeBook S6231 Above view (view larger image)

    The design of the 6231 is quite sleek and professional looking. The case is a silver magnesium alloy with black and dark gray trim. There is a nice, soft felt pad adhered to the bottom of the case. The card slot is on the left side towards the front and has a little swinging dust door unlike my Dell that used a separate plastic plug. The DVD/CD writer is on the right side in the modular bay. This bay can be used to pack an additional battery, a DVD/CD writer or a weight saving filler plug. On the front face, just to the left of the latch is the SD/MS Pro slot. Very handy! Looking across the back we find the network, modem and power receptacles along with the Firewire port and three USB 2.0 ports. There is a small slide switch just above the power receptacle which toggles the WiFi on or off. It's nice to be able to conserve as much battery as possible. A jack for video out to TV sits in the middle of a large air vent. (An adapter cable is included to mate with an S-Video cord). Speaking of air vents, there are air circulation vents all over this notebook, on three sides and the bottom. I haven't heard the fan run yet. I'm sure it has, but it is so quiet you just don't notice it.

    [​IMG]

    Fujitsu S6231 Left-side view (view larger image)

    [​IMG]

    Fujitsu S6231 Right-side view (view larger image)

    Screen

    [​IMG]

    Notice the reflective qualities of the Fujitsu S6231 screen (view larger image)

    The 13.3 " Crystal View screen is amazing. It's so bright and clear, even in an outdoor environment. When you detach the AC power supply, the screen automatically dims to conserve power. One small complaint I have is that the small speakers located just in front of the display hinges are adequate, but a little tinny sounding. You'll want to use external speakers or headphones while listening to your music collection or a DVD. Another small complaint is that the LED status bar just above the keyboard is not backlit. It's not a big deal, but hopefully Fujitsu corrects this in the next generation of this laptop.

    Performance

    I'm not an avid gamer, but I find the 1.6 GHz Dothan processor more than snappy enough for the types of applications I generally use. I write a lot of letters and send a lot of e-mail. I work with digital photography and digital video. I rip and burn music CDs, download and load music files to my Zen Micro player. I surf the net and do much of my shopping, banking and investing online. I teach in an Elementary School computer lab and I carry this notebook back and forth between home and school each day. This little notebook is perfect for what I do. It boots up and shuts down quickly. It has never crashed and never refused a command. I'm running 512 mb of memory and a beefy 60 gb hard drive. I never have to wait on anything. The (3) USB 2.0 ports are fast and the Firewire port accepts video from my Sony digital camcorder. There is no parallel port, but most printers today are USB. The SD/MS combo slot is great for popping in a card from my camera or camcorder and viewing images I have just taken.

    Keyboard and Input

    [​IMG]

    Fujitsu S6231 Touchpad and Keyboard view (view larger image)

    [​IMG]

    Fujitsu S6231 Keyboard and button view (view larger image)

    Fujitsu's keyboards have taken some flak in the past for being flimsy or spongy. Not anymore! The 6231's keyboard is very solid feeling, comfortable and well laid out. The keys have a very nice, smooth feel to them. Now, I'm a soft touch typist so you two fingered key pokers probably won't appreciate this keyboard as much. The keys are light gray with dark gray lettering. The top row of function keys are about half height, but not uncomfortably small. The touch pad is very functional with a handy scrolling rocker in-between the left and right buttons. Just above the keyboard and to the left of the main power button, are five silver buttons. The first button changes the remaining four from application launching buttons to control buttons for the media bay player. The application buttons are programmable from within the included Fujitsu software.

    [​IMG]

    Fujitsu S6231 Keyboard view (view larger image)

    Wireless

    As part of the Centrino package, Fujitsu has incorporated an Integrated Intel PRO/Wireless 2200BG (802.11b/g) card into the notebook. As soon as I booted up the first time, it immediately recognized my wireless network and logged me on. The range is excellent. I was sitting in my vehicle in a small town the other day and the 6231 reported three unsecured wireless networks were available. There's no infrared or Bluetooth, but for me this is not a big deal.

    Battery

    And now, one of the most important things about a thin and light portable; the battery life! I can't believe how long this notebook runs before it needs recharging. I get 3.5 to 4 hours of battery easily! The battery life really is phenomenal was going to buy the optional "Bay" battery, but I don't think I'm going to need it.

    Software

    I ordered the 6231 with Windows XP Professional. Portable One offers it as an upgrade from XP Home for $100. Portable One did not have a unit in stock (just before Christmas) that had XP Pro as an image so they installed the retail version with SP2 and Media Player 10. The retail version with disks costs $145 instead of $100 for an XP Pro image without disks. The other software installed is Microsoft Works 8.0, Norton Anti-virus (90-day trial), Quicken 2005 (new user version) and Intervideo WinDVD. It's definitely enough to get you going and Microsoft Works is probably enough office suite for most.

    Customer Service

    I have not had to use the Fujitsu Customer Service and hopefully, I never will. I do have a three year (free) factory warranty so I'm not concerned about future problems. As I mentioned previously, the customer service from Portable One is outstanding. In my view, your choice of vendor is almost as critical as your choice of notebook.

    Conclusion

    I really have no complaints about this notebook. It has performed flawlessly since I first opened the box. I feel very proud to own such a quality piece of equipment and I enjoy boring my friends and family to death with endless tales of all the wonderful things the 6231 will do.

    In conclusion, I would highly recommend the Fujitsu S6231 notebook to anyone looking for quality workmanship, an abundance of features, very light weight and long battery life. Fujitsu could improve the speakers a bit and maybe backlight the LED status bar, but for those two very minor chump change issues, at the end of the day, you'd be hard pressed to top the 6231.

    Pricing and Availability

     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2015
  2. RaNDoMMAI

    RaNDoMMAI Notebook Consultant

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    good simple review

    i was wondering if you had own the any previous S series from fujitsu and can comment on the improvements?

    also, do you think the price of this notebook will drop anytime soon?

    thx
    ~RaNDoM
     
  3. Andrew Baxter

    Andrew Baxter -

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    A one-day sale at NewEgg.com has this laptop for $1339 -- a rather amazing deal:

    NewEgg.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 2, 2015
  4. Flyboy

    Flyboy Notebook Guru

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    abaxter,

    How would you compare it to your T42? Does it live up the same build standards that IBM has?

    Also great review and I love the pics....always nice to see pictures of it that are "real world" pics!

    Do you have any experience with other Fujitsu S series...Like the S7010? Would love a review of that laptop if anyone out there has one and willing to write it!!!

    Thanks for taking the time to write the review it was very helpful,

    Flyboy
     
  5. Flyboy

    Flyboy Notebook Guru

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    OK sorry for the mixup...then to me it sounds like the S6231 is a hot pick, but maybe the S7010 with the same CV screen and the missing .7" and track point would do the trick [:p].

    Thanks again,
    Flyboy
     
  6. Andrew Baxter

    Andrew Baxter -

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    Just to be clear, Richard wrote this review and I posted it, but I do have a Fujitsu S6231 right now too.

    As far as compared to the T42, I love the S6231 but for me the fact it is missing a trackpoint and you have to use a function key to perform the "Home" and "End" action makes me prefer the keyboard and navigation of the T42 more. The extra .7" on the T42 is also good for me because I do programming and need extra screen space. Having said that, the S6231 glossy bright screen is nicer than what the T42 has -- I love Crystal View. I also love the light weight and battery life of the S6231. So in summary, if the S6231 had a trackpoint and a slightly bigger keyboard I'd actually choose it over the T42, but T42 is still king in my book due to the size of the S6231 being slightly too small for me.
     
  7. SkiBunny

    SkiBunny Notebook Deity

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    Great review, Richard. This is a nice-sounding model, and it's captured my attention. Among other features, love the portability and that quality alloy casing. [:)]

    <blockquote id='quote'>quote:<hr height='1' noshade id='quote'>Originally posted by abaxter

     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  8. srdhkl

    srdhkl Notebook Evangelist NBR Reviewer

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    I too am a proud owner of the S6231 and will never go back to Dell again!

    Richard or Andrew, I do have one minor complaint about the system that I wanted your guys opinion on. Does the left side of your keyboard feel a little bit more springing or more flex to it then the right side? Mine does and I'm wondering if I should give Fujitsu a call to fix it.

    Let me know what you guys think.
     
  9. lazyace

    lazyace Notebook Guru

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    Bunny, Hi, I'm Richard aka Lazyace
    The 'insert' and 'delete' keys are half height keys located 2nd and third from the top right corner. They are operated without the Fn key. 'page-up' and 'page-down' are located above the 'left arrow' and 'right-arrow' keys respectively. They share duties with the 'home' and 'end' keys. 'page-up' and 'page-down' are primary keys and don't require Fn. Tapping the touchpad acts as a left mouse click. Two taps = double-click. As you can probably tell, I love this notebook.

    <blockquote id='quote'>quote:<hr height='1' noshade id='quote'>Originally posted by SkiBunny

     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2015
  10. SkiBunny

    SkiBunny Notebook Deity

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    Ace, thanks for the info. Yes I can tell you love this notebook and your enthusiasm is infectious. Much to like about it, I think I could live with those keys located as they are (your pic of the keyboard, when enlarged, shows it nicely).

    How do you find using that rocker for vertical scrolling? (instead of having the scrolling area within the touchpad as typical)
    Is the touchpad smooth or textured?
     
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