Amilo Sa 3650

It’s hard to stand out in the crowded laptop market, but Fujitsu-Siemens‘ clever new bundle has caught our attention as potentially revolutionary. The Amilo Sa 3650 laptop is nothing special by itself, but it’s being flogged with Fujitsu-Siemens’ brand new GraphicBooster box, containing a top end graphics card for serious gaming at home. Does it work? We’ve got our hands on the pair, so read on for pics and first impressions.

By itself, the 13.3 inch Amilo notebook is nothing to write home about: 4GB of RAM will handle clunky old Vista, and a 320GB HDD will store all your media, while an AMD X2 chip will keep things ticking over. On the outside it’s a treat to look at, and the laminated black bezel looks great so long as you don’t fingerprint it, though the beige trackpad is atrocious to use.

The USP here is the accompanying GraphicBooster box. The 3650 only has shared memory onboard, but inside the Booster is an absolutely stunning ATI Radeon HD 3870 dedicated graphics card to turn your mobile machine into the ultimate gaming rig at home when plugged in.

We don’t want to bore you with stat crunching, dry scientific tests, so we came up with a much better benchmark to measure it by: does it run Crysis? The graphical extravaganza is almost a year old but still the standard in 3D gaming, and sure enough, the 3650 solo can barely handle it: cut scenes run at about five frames per second, and the game itself is too slow to be playable.

So, we plugged in the Graphic Booster. It’s a fancy little box with the same styling as the laptop. It’s got a HDMI port to plug into your telly and a DVI-I socket for an external PC monitor, as well as two USB ports if you’ve run out of space for a keyboard and mouse. So far so good. Lash it up to the 3650 though and you’ll be suitably impressed: Crysis suddenly starts flying, a feat for any machine. Our play on it didn’t appear to get the 470 per cent performance improvement Fujitsu has been touting, but it’s a noticeable increase, very handy for those who need to work on the go but require a power PC at home.

The only flaw with the Amilo combination is the expense involved, both in cash and time. The GraphicBooster won’t give any added edge to visuals to the 13 inch panel on the 3650 – you have to route it to another monitor.

By the time you’ve bought yourself one or two decent external screens, untangled all the wires (You can see all those knots in the pics) and plugged everything in, you simply might as well buy a gaming laptop (Give us an Alienware any day). Or a laptop with Blu-ray and HDMI output built in. Or a desktop. Or even a desktop and a laptop. All of these options are hardly any more costly or time consuming.

There’s no doubt Fujitsu-Siemens is on to something here: the boost the box provides is enormous, but until this technology starts opening up (Currently the box will only work with the 3650 and no other laptop), this sits too close to gimmicky to be worth your cash. Enough chat though: check it out in action in the gallery below.

Out TBC | £TBC | Fujitsu-Siemens

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