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(Pocket-lint) - When it comes to notebooks, Fujitsu Siemens is something of a success story. Four years ago you’d have been hard pushed to find anyone who actually owned one of their machines. Today, they are the fourth biggest supplier in Europe and when it comes to choosing a powerful machine at an affordable price you have to take them seriously.

The Amilo Pro is a good case in point, which comes with a budget price of £599 (inc. VAT) but doesn’t scrimp on the components or the build quality.

Weighing in at 2.9kg, it isn’t the lightest machine on the market but the sloping design of the tough plastic chassis makes it feel less bulky than it is. The keyboard is well spaced with plenty of room between the keys but they had quite a narrow amount of travel, so the merest touch will cause them to respond – ideal for the touch typist.

The touchpad and mouse buttons are quite small, which takes a little getting used to, particularly as there is a gap between the two. That said, they proved accurate and responsive to the touch.

We managed to get over 4 hours from the battery, which if you think about it, is a good portion of the working day, or plenty of time just lazing around on the sofa and surfing the Internet. Either way, it’ll appeal to those who need a bit of mobile flexibility.

In terms of specification, you’ll find an Intel Pentium M 735 (1.7GHz) processor with 512MB of DDR2 memory. While this is powerful enough for basic tasks, it’s starting to look dated. Even the 40GB hard drive is fine if your needs are minimal. We found everything ran fine, if a little sluggish at times. Pricing has been kept down by using a standard 15-inch TFT panel and you’ll also find the graphics are integrated. As this is a Pentium M machine, it’s the older 915GM chipset, which is so slow most games won’t even try to run. The optical drive will read DVDs but will only write CD-Rs, which is also starting to look a bit dated and mean.

This all adds up to a machine that is better suited as a work tool rather than something for all the family, which is fine as you’ll find plenty to recommend it as a work tool. The Ethernet is Gigabit, so you’ll get a fast connection and Wi-Fi is built in for connecting to wireless networks. Its specification may be a little dated but we actually found this a pleasing machine to use.

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If you’re on a fixed budget and have simple needs, there is little or no problem in the Amilo Pro. The only problem starts when if you want a really versatile machine as you won’t find it here. When it comes to notebooks, you still largely pay for what you get and what you get here is very much run of the mill.

Writing by Mike Browne. Originally published on 24 July 2006.