Although the dark-silver Fujitsu LifeBook A6030's battery life is disappointingly short, the unit is generously equipped for the price.

The optional dual-purpose touchpad, which Fujitsu calls the Point and Write Pad, is the Fujitsu LifeBook A6030's most interesting feature. It lets you write handwritten notes within an area of the touchpad, using the bundled stylus and pen-input software. What you write appears on an input line on the notebook's screen. (Unlike a tablet PC, the Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 doesn't have a screen that you can write on.)

We found that taking notes was laborious at first; you need good hand-to-eye coordination to write on the touchpad in a way that makes the strokes appear on its input line on screen. On the other hand, using the Fujitsu LifeBook A6030's touchpad to make precise strokes in paint and draw programs was a snap from the get-go.

The Fujitsu LifeBook A6030, with its integrated graphics system, isn't fast enough to support sophisticated games, which wouldn't sound good anyway over the notebook's undistinguished speakers. Still, this Windows Vista Home Premium unit earned a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 77. The Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 ran for just 2.3 hours in our battery life tests, so leaving this 2.9kg unit's power adaptor behind is probably unwise. (Fujitsu does sell an extended-life battery, which we did not test).

We liked the Fujitsu LifeBook A6030's spill-resistant keyboard. According to Fujitsu, it has a special coating and a collection tray to protect internal components. We also liked the comfortably bright 15.4in screen option (you can get an even brighter 450-nit option) and the handsome array of ports, including five USB ones. But primarily what makes the Fujitsu LifeBook A6030 worth a look is the touchpad you can write on.

OUR VERDICT

The Fujitsu LifeBook A6030's touchpad-based stylus input and spill-resistant keyboard are nice touches on an otherwise solid laptop. But we weren't impressed with the battery life or the speakers.