If you're looking for a recession-busting laptop, the Fujitsu LifeBook A530 will certainly catch your eye. The price tag is pretty tempting and, at just £364, there's really not many cheaper options on the market.

If your laptop-buying decision is based purely on price, then the LifeBook A530 is a no brainer, but it goes without saying that there's no such thing as a free lunch and the A530 makes huge sacrifices.

These come in the form of processing power, which is key to the amount of tasks your laptop can perform, and the amount it can do simultaneously. At the helm is a dated 2GHz Intel Celeron P4600 processor, which will struggle with anything more taxing than basic web surfing and emailing.

This is backed up with a meagre 2048MB of memory, which is quite low by modern standards. Couple this with the 250GB hard drive and appalling lack of video memory and the £40 saving over the Samsung R540 is looking less appealing.

TFT screen

While we're talking about shortcomings, we might as well bring up the screen. It's a basic TFT panel, which is extremely dull and lifeless, and totally unsuited to films and media. A side-effect is that it's very usable in direct sunlight, so if you're a person who liked to take their laptop out to use in the garden, then it's worth considering this factor when making a laptop purchase.

The chassis of the A530 is good for such a bargain price and it manages to feel light, without being flimsy, which is something few budget notebooks manage. At 2.5kg, it's light enough to carry round if you really need it, but we wouldn't recommend it for life on the road.

There's a full numeric keypad, present as well as a full sized standard keyboard.

Fujitsu lifebook a530

The lab tests of the Fujitsu A530 highlight its meagre performance. It turned out low scores in our tests of processing power, and battery life was also a miserable 101 minutes.

The Acer Timeline X 3820TZ came out worse in terms of graphical power, and that sacrifice is made in the name of super portability and a staggering battery life. The Fujitsu achieves neither, and the strain really shows.

All this translates into a weak performer with serious shortcomings. If you're looking for something for the most basic web surfing, then you'll be fine. However, HD video and web streaming will suffer, and even playing basic games will be a struggle.

When you consider that another £30 could buy you the HP Pavilion dv6-3046sa with its significantly superior build and performance, we can't recommend it, but if your decision is based purely on price, the Fujitsu LifeBook A530 is hard to turn down.

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