When you start looking for a product review, especially for a laptop or somesuch, usually what you get is just a copy-and-paste job of the technical specifications: no-one actually tells you what the machine is like and whether it is actually worth the money.
I want to give you a real-life user review for my new(ish) laptop which might help you. I have had the Fujitsu AH532 for a couple of months now and I think it is utterly fabulous.
I spent under £400 at Staples on this bright red thing of beauty, and it features an Intel i5 processor: easily the best price I have encountered for a processor at this level of performance, it has 6Gb of RAM and a 500Gb Hard disk, running Windows 8
Now I am a fairly intensive PC user – this isn’t a laptop for simply reading emails and watching pornography, but rather a machine on which I create and edit a large amount of video using Sony Vegas and Adobe After Effects, extensive document work and creative writing on Office 2013 and Desktop Publishing. I need a cheap, but powerful machine and I am never going to be able to afford a fruit-based product nor an ultrabook.
The AH532 is fast and powerful. Where other PCs go into a sulk when you try to run After Effects, this one just gets on with it. Vegas doesn’t hang and I can swap between browser, Evernote and Word in the middle of it. The 15.6″ screen is bright and clear and the second screen output (to HDMI or VGA) is fast and responsive. It has a full width keyboard and with three USB 3.0 ports and 1 x USB 2.0 it has great connectivity. The videocam is good and the sound output is pretty loud and clear.
Battery life is good and it looks great in Ruby Red
When I got the machine I kept an older machine in order to connect to a firewire port, because according to the specifications, it doesn’t have a cardbus port: but it does! So it is possible to put in the thin cardbus card and use it to import video directly from my video camera. This is a majorly brilliant feature, but I don’t know why it is undocumented.
However, what are the annoyances? I have two real issues with it:
firstly: the dodgy optical drive – it is inconsistant and errors – it is poor at reading DVDs and very bad at bruning CDs and DVDs. I am not sure if it is just this particular drive which is dodgy or it is a general fault with this model. I ought to get it looked at, but I need the machine constantly.
secondly: Windows 8. This is not a touchscreen machine, and Windows 8 is just a minor annoyance. It is a poorly thought out OS and its one or two good points (the copy UI which shows progress as a bar is excellent, and some of the contextual options in a window is brilliant) but the non-multitasking tile screens are the most awful thing: I hate it. The lack of START button, the odd way of shutting down and other minor annoyances make it a right pain. I am seriously considering reinstalling Windows 7 but it would invalidate my license.
The Hard Disk is partitioned with a really small C drive and a large D drive, which means that I had to move my default dropbox folder to the D drive which was… less than successful. In the end I modified the partitions and made a single large C drive but not every user will be happy to do that (it’s not difficult and the tools are quite straightforward but it’s a bit scary).
I think this is an excellent PC for the money. I have found it to be more than up to the job in hand. For video editing and other major data crunching, this is possible with this machine at a very low cost. If only there was a Windows 7 option it would be world-beating. If you can cope with the oddities of Windows 8 (or they have installed Windows 8.1/Blue by the time you read this) then I would recommend it. Highly.