Fujitsu Siemens has had something of a stealth-approach to the top. Only a few years ago it was a company struggling to find a place for itself in the notebook market.

Now it’s one of the Top Five sellers in Europe simply by releasing a range of cost-effective but powerful machines.

The Amilo Si 1848 is a good example, based around Intel’s latest dual-core processor, the Core 2 Duo T5500 there is plenty of power on hand. It’s not the fastest chip in the range but we found it handled most tasks with ease, especially as it comes with 1GB of memory. Storage is in the form of a 120GB hard drive, more than enough to store your digital images and movies. If you need to back anything u you’ll find a DVD rewriter is built-in – it supports dual-layer so you can get 8.5GB on one disc with ease.

Finished in silver and black, the case has an imitation brushed-aluminium finish around the keyboard, which adds a hint of style. The keyboard is of a good size and while the keys aren’t the most robust we’ve come across, at this price they’re more than acceptable.

The screen is a 15.4-inch widescreen panel finished with a Super-TFT screen. Such panels are fairly common but that’s simply because they work well and if you’re going to be using your notebook for watching movies and editing photos/videos you need the best colour contrast there is and the Amilo has it. Graphics are integrated, so don’t think about playing games on this machine as it’ll simply refuse to get involved.

A neat touch is the use of what Fujitsu Siemens calls its "Silent Mode". This is a button located beneath the screen that will drop the speed of the laptop a couple of notches. The results being two-fold. The first is that the laptop does indeed run quieter as there is less need for the fan to run. The other advantage is that with the notebook running on reduced power, you’ll see a slight increase in battery life.

Not that it needs much more in the way of battery life, as we regularly received close to 4 hours of life from the Si. This is great if you need to write long reports or simply want to watch a movie on the train and not have to worry about the laptop being dead before the end of the film.

With an overall weight of 2.8kg, this is a semi-portable machine and while you won’t want to carry it around all the time, it’s fine for short journeys. As with all most laptops, wireless hotspots can be connected to using its built-in 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi adapter. For working with external devices, a 4-in-1 media card reader lets you share data from digital cameras and smartphones among others.

Verdict

The Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Si 1848 is a pleasant machine to use and we found nothing particularly wrong with it for the price and there in lies the problem, it’s simply another notebook that happens to meets its criteria. Rather like the plain girl/boy you ended up dancing with at any school disco, you’ll feel comfortable but you’ll also be looking over their shoulder with an eye on what could have been if you’d plumped for a more alluring number.