This article first appeared in HWM Jul 2011.
While Intel’s Sandy Bridge platform faced some obstacles right out of the blocks with faulty hardware that necessitated a recall, the problem’s now fixed, with numerous laptop makers all jumping in with offerings of their own. In this review, we take on Fujitsu’s S-series 13.3-inch LifeBook SH561.
Aesthetically, the SH561 is clad in "Urban White" for the most part, save for its base unit that's adorned in black. The lid sports pin-striped etchings with Fujitsu's Infinity Mark brandished in silver. Generally, the SH561 offers a durable build with little flex on the wrist-rest. At 1.75kg, this baby is also highly portable considering it packs a DVD drive as well.
The SH561 lives up to its all-rounder reputation with a wholesome offering of ports, including an HDMI port and three USB 2.0 slots. While USB 3.0 is clearly absent, one of its USB ports does boast of a charging feature. In other words, you get to juice up USB devices without having to power on the notebook, provided of course that the laptop is plugged into a wall socket.
Looking at its interior, it is apparent Fujitsu isn't influenced by the current chiclet craze. For input, the SH561 features a tightly packed keyboard with standard 19mm-pitched keys. They delivered a soft tactile feedback when tried. To add, we spotted a dimpled pattern on the wrist-rest that's unique to Fujitsu. While it may appear gimmicky, the "scroll wheel", as well as the Synaptics-driven touchpad, were both quite responsive when used.
Given its glossy (and annoying) treatment on the 1366x768-pixel screen, images are noticeably vivid despite the SH561’s conservative 200 nits rating. Susceptibility to contrast shifts on both axes is one drawback though.
Discrete GT520M graphics powers the SH561 with its internal Intel HD3000 GPU disabled. Not that we are complaining, for results on both 3DMark06 and Far Cry 2 trumped the Toshiba Satellite E300 (which was powered by integrated graphics) by a fair margin. The SH561 also produced 5,671 3DMarks and 59.6fps respectively, compared to Toshiba's 4,918 3DMarks and 25.3fps scores. Battery uptime was noteworthy too, lasting 4 hours and 20 minutes on our DVD loopback test.
As for general processing power, the SH561 clocked a laudable 6,108 PCMarks, just slightly below the Toshiba E300. For that matter, both systems are powered by the Intel Core i5-2410M processor, capable of dynamic overclocking up to 2.90GHz (Turbo Boost 2.0).
Overall, we can safely sum up the SH561 as a dependable and portable machine with decent processing and graphics hardware to match. Although it is tough for us to fault the SH561 apart from its tight viewing angle, it would also be hard to justify the pricey $2,388 tag when more affordable alternatives are available.