Trimming the price but not the quality from their KNS series of headsets

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If you are looking for a decent pair of circumaural headphones that simply offer great performance and do not delve into simulating 5.1 or 7.1 sound and have a budget of around $100 then check out KRK Systems’ KNS 6400.? One of the best features of both this headset and its more expensive brother are the cords, which are not integral but can be replaced if they become damaged or if KRK?Systems follows TechPowerUp’s suggestion of selling custom cables for those with specific needs.? The audio quality is not top notch when compared to more expensive headphones but for $100 KRK?Systems seems to have done very well.

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“KRK Systems is well on their way to becoming a big name in the headphone business. Today we will be taking a look at yet another interesting set of closed back headphones, namely the KNS 6400s which feature the same mechanical design as the KNS 8400.”


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Logitech Z623

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 Logitech Z623

Logitech products appear to fit into two separate categories, especially when it comes to speakers.

We’ve seen – and heard – £200 5.1 setups that have blown everything else clean out of the water, but on the other hand, you can also pick up a set of stereo speakers for £15 that sound like they should have cost no more than a fiver.

At £120 the Z623 certainly doesn’t come cheap, but does it sound like it’s worth all that extra money? The answer is a resounding yes.

The sound is deep and rich, and the most ‘three-dimensional’ we’ve ever heard from a 2.1 system. Even coming from a laptop’s dubious-quality in-built sound card, the sounds of gunfire in our favourite FPS seemed to come from all around us. How soothing.

The bass and treble are perfectly tuned out of the box, but if you want to add more bass there’s a dedicated rotary dial on the right-hand speaker. Despite the slightly ‘Day of the Tentacle’ design of the speakers, they’re well built too.

The subwoofer is one of the smaller ones we’ve seen, but it did just as good a job of bass reproduction as ones the size of a small fridge. The satellites compliment it perfectly, being adequately weighted in terms of both construction and sound.

If there’s a slight niggle, it’s that Logitech has elected to use the same connection system it uses on its lower-end speakers. The right satellite houses the power, volume and bass controls, and it connects to the sub-woofer via a proprietary VGA-style cable. The left speaker simply connects to the sub with a phono plug.

The system evidently works, and having power control on the desktop saves you having to lean over to a hidden sub to turn them on – and it’s exactly the same system you’ll find on Logitech’s £15 speakers.

They have to be heard to be believed though, and despite our reservations about the THX certification, it actually seems to mean something here. These come highly recommended.

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Corsair Vengeance M60 gaming mouse

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 Corsair Vengeance M60 gaming mouse

Overview

This Corsair Vengeance M60 mouse represents the next step for Corsair – peripherals.

Specifically, high-end peripherals designed for the gamer who’s prepared to pay a little more for a rugged build and enhanced usability.

The Vengeance M60 FPS gaming mouse is a prime example of that – premium components, eight-button functionality, and all the extras like adjustable DPI buttons and a mega-low DPI ‘sniper’ button that’s rapidly becoming the standard for a gaming rodent.

Corsair has a pretty impressive pedigree across a number of fields. The Californian company started out producing L2 cache modules, and today it’s still go-to guy for performance RAM like the Vengeance and Dominator DDR3 ranges.

In recent times we’ve seen speaker systems, power supplies, PC chassis and USB flash drives all bearing the Corsair name, and by and large it signals a mark of the highest quality.

The specs for this new mouse are impressive, but can Corsair really pull off a flawless debut into the mouse market with the Corsair Vengeance M60?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer’s yes.

Verdict

There are two mice in Corsair’s fledgling range – the M90 caters for the MMO gamer’s needs, and as such sports fifteen programmable buttons.

This M60 sets its sights square and true on the first-person shooter afficionado, for whom split seconds and DPI figures are everything.

With that said, even the grouchiest CS:S gamer will be happy with the Corsair Vengeance M60’s performance.

Corsair vengeance m60

The jury’s still out on whether DPI really makes a huge difference, but the M60’s adjustable polling rate, high tracking speed and low-friction PTFE pads make for a noticeably smooth experience.

And if you’re still hung up on that DPI comment, it’s 100 dots higher than our previous darling of the rodent world, Mad Catz’s Cyborg R.A.T. 7.

This is a mouse that lots of clever people have sat and thought about for a long time – that much is evident in its ergonomic design.

The sniper button feels well-placed enough that you’d actually use it, and the thumb rest blends perfectly into your mouse mat.

Having experimented with the M60 it turns out to be comfortable in all but the most improbable hand position, which is worth thinking about if you’re such a pro gamer that you’ve analysed your own grip.

Show off.

You don’t have to be Fatal1ty to expect more adjustable weighting though, and that’s sadly off the menu with this mouse. All you get are three removable weights in the base, so you can make it lighter but not heavier is that is your bag.

Take an eyeful of the price tag and you’ll understand why the Corsair Vengeance M60 doesn’t offer this – it’s clear that most of the money has been spent on its remarkable build quality – but it does lose ground to the similarly-priced R.A.T. 5 from Mad Catz here, which is far more adjustable by weight.

We liked

For a debut effort, the Corsair Vengeance M60 mouse is incredible.

It’s hard to pick a fault with it if you’re a FPS gamer. Primarily, you want a comfortable mouse that doesn’t have a ton of buttons you’ll keep accidentally pressing at a fair price, and Corsair’s rodent ticks all those boxes with confidence.

The adjustable DPI and sniper button are useful additions in a layout that otherwise shows restraint, and it feels like it could survive a nuclear blast.

We disliked

It is missing out on more fully-adjustable weights and a free-rolling wheel, but the low price eases those concerns considerably.

Final word

Corsair’s debut mouse hits the ground running – right to the front of the pack.

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Acer Aspire S3

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 Acer Aspire S3

Overview

The first-generation ultrabook war is getting bloody, with the Toshiba Satellite Z830 and Lenovo Ideapad U300S emerging from the pits to take on the Asus Zenbook and this machine, the Acer Aspire S Series. This four-way battle royale should be a fierce contest, but can Acer do enough to beat down the super-thin-yet-powerful laptop competition?

The Taiwanese company certainly has experience producing every variety of laptop, from the ultra-portable Timeline range of models such as the Acer Aspire Timeline X 3820TZ to the mighty Ethos multimedia machines including the Acer Aspire Ethos 5943G.

One of its dinkiest offerings yet, the 13.3-inch Acer Aspire S3-951 is an appealing prospect for regular travellers.

The Intel Core i7 2637M version we tested is priced at £900 in the UK and costs $1300 in the US (where it has the more specific name of Acer Aspire S3-951-6432), which is enticing, considering the impressive specs list.

A less powerful Core i5 model can be bought for £700 in the UK, while in the US there are three cheaper Core i5 machines, two of which cost $900, while one retails at $1199.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

At 1.38kg, the Acer Aspire S3-951 is a similar weight to the other ultrabooks and just slips in under Intel’s specified 1.4kg ultrabook weight. Even a skinny eight-year-old could carry this laptop around all day, although we wouldn’t trust some whippersnapper with a piece of kit like this.

With a thickness of 19mm at its widest point, the Acer Aspire S3-951 may not be as size-zero slender as the Toshiba Satellite Z830 or Asus Zenbook UX21, but it’s certainly thin enough to slide into a backpack, briefcase or even an oversized handbag.

However, even though the lid is impressively slim, it’s also tough enough to take a pounding. There’s almost no flex in the centre, so the display remains protected even when the laptop is bumping around in a bag. The brushed aluminium surface repels fingerprints and other marks, keeping it clean and shiny.

We were also pleased to see sturdy hinges, which hold the screen still even when you’re pounding the keyboard. This solid build quality continues throughout the rest of the chassis. We found no worrying weak spots, although we’re not convinced that the Acer Aspire S3-951 would survive a fall from a desk.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

One potential peril of compact laptops is that usability might suffer – the reduced chassis space means smaller keyboards, the nemesis of anyone with fat sausage fingers. Thankfully the Acer Aspire S3-951 doesn’t suffer too much from its stunted stature.

Shift and Ctrl keys are well-sized, although the Enter key is squashed into a single row and the arrow keys are almost comically tiny. Touch typing was a breeze. We bashed out emails and articles for hours at a time without our hands cramping up, and with minimal errors. While the shallow key travel is unavoidable, it isn’t as bad as the Asus Zenbook‘s (which feels like you’re tapping on a solid piece of plastic).

The Acer Aspire S3-951’s touchpad is also a decent size, but is cursed with integrated mouse buttons. Instead of having separate mouse buttons, you need to push the left and right corners of the pad down to simulate mouse clicks. Frankly, it’s a horrible experience.

Anyone who’s used one of these touchpads will know the deal. Often when you push the corners in to select a menu option, the cursor will skip across the screen, leading to incorrect menu selections. Considering how fiddly Windows menus can be, we came close to busting out the power tools and giving the Acer Aspire S3-951 a few new air vents.

Our advice is, stick to tapping the surface for mouse clicks. It’s a little hit and miss, but might save your blood pressure.

Specifications

Acer aspire s3-951 review

The Acer Aspire S3-951’s compact build means you’re stuck with a small screen, but the 13.3-inch display is perfectly serviceable for both business and pleasure. It isn’t the brightest screen ever, but the 1366 x 768-pixel resolution means images are sharp.

HD movies look crisp, if not particularly vibrant.

Although 13.3 inches doesn’t give you a huge viewing area for the latest blockbuster films, it’s perfectly fine when you’re on the move and sat right in front of your laptop. The sharp resolution is also perfect when you’re working on tables or spreadsheets.

However, the glossy Super-TFT finish is reflective, which is a hindrance if you want to use the Acer Aspire S3-951 outdoors. Anyone who’s regularly out and about will prefer the matt screen of the Toshiba Satellite Z830.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

Business users will be happy to see an HDMI port and two USB ports crammed onto the rear of the slender chassis. Accessing them is a little awkward, and fans of wired networking should check out the Toshiba Satellite Z830, which has a built-in Ethernet port. However, the Acer Aspire S3-951 is pretty much standard when it comes to ultrabooks.

If you have tons of files to lug around, you’ll need to use one of the USB ports to hook up an external hard drive. Despite the specs listing a 240GB solid state drive, the Acer Aspire S3-951 only reported 200GB of storage space available. This fills up far too quickly, especially if you’re hoping to carry some music or movies with you, although at least it gives you super speedy and reliable access to your data.

You also have an SD card reader for extra storage.

Aside from that, the Acer Aspire S3-951 is typically light on features. A 1.3MP webcam positioned just above the screen enables you to video chat with mates or colleagues, and that’s your lot. However, at least the Acer Aspire S3-951 doesn’t come laden with dozens of useless app trials that clog up your hard drive and constantly pester you with annoying pop-ups.

Performance

Acer aspire s3-951 review

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Cinebench 10: 8,827
3D Mark ’06: 3,279
Battery Eater ’05: 149 minutes

The real selling point of the Acer Aspire S3-951 is the impressive set of components stuffed in its tiny gullet. Gone are the days of clunky low-voltage CPUs plaguing ultra-portable laptops.

The dual-core Intel Core i7 2637M processor stormed through our Cinebench tests, proving well matched to any task we threw at it.

Backed up by 4GB of memory, we had no problem multitasking with all kinds of software. Applications loaded quickly (helped in part by that speedy solid state drive) and ran smoothly. In fact, the Acer Aspire S3-951 proved to be the most powerful ultrabook we’ve reviewed, narrowly beating the Core i7 Asus Zenbook UX31.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

Graphical performance is dependable, thanks to the flexibility of the Sandy Bridge chipset. Although the GPU is integrated, it’s still capable of running multimedia software such as photo and video editing suites, without suffering from glitches or crashes.

Of course, you aren’t going to get any serious gaming done on an ultrabook. Older games will run as expected, and you won’t have any trouble smashing your mates at a game of online Scrabble. But try testing it with a recent FPS game and you’ll meet a stuttering mess.

Even when we ran fairly demanding software, we were impressed by how cool and quiet the Acer Aspire S3-951 remained. The SSD obviously helps, because there are no spinning discs to contend with. The area around the vents (positioned at the rear of the laptop) remains cool at all times.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

Unfortunately the battery life was a lot less impressive. We ran HD video on loop and were disappointed when the Acer Aspire S3-951 died after just 149 minutes. This isn’t a disastrous performance, but it is below average for a modern laptop – we usually get around three hours of movie action before the screen fades to black.

Considering this is an ultrabook built for portability, the result is even more disappointing. The Asus Zenbook, for example, survived for over four hours with the same test. If you’re looking for a new laptop, you’ll have to seriously consider what’s more important to you – performance or longevity.

Verdict

Acer aspire s3-951 review

We’ve tested the first generation of ultrabooks, and so far we’ve liked what we’ve seen.

This attractive blend of performance and portability might not be new (as Apple fanboys will be quick to point out), and we’re not sure why it’s taken Intel’s intervention to stimulate manufacturers into producing mini laptops such as the Acer Aspire S3-951. However, for anyone who’s a regular road hog, the ultrabook is an enticing prospect.

We liked

The Acer Aspire S3-951’s slender chassis may not be as stupefyingly thin or sleek as the Asus Zenbook, but it’s still compact enough to fit in almost any bag. It’s also impressively tough considering the girth, with a firm lid and tough body.

We were impressed by the excellent Intel Core i7 processor performance, and saw next to no slowdown when running several applications at once. Multimedia software runs fine, and the ultrabook starts up and shuts down in no time at all.

If you need a machine to bash out emails and documents on the move, the Acer Aspire S3-951’s keyboard will do the job. It isn’t too cramped, despite the compact frame, with the exception of the miniscule arrow keys.

We disliked

Unfortunately, for a laptop marketed on its portability, the Acer Aspire S3-951’s battery life is pants. Just two and a half hours of movie playback on a single charge is below average, even for a bog-standard entry-level laptop.

We also had massive issues with the touchpad. Those integrated mouse buttons are a massive pain, and we resorted to tapping the surface to select menu options instead.

Anyone with a huge media collection will need to cart around an external hard drive, because only 200GB of storage space is available on the 240GB SSD.

Final verdict

While the Acer Aspire S3-951 is a well-built and powerful ultrabook, which offers good value for money, we were more drawn to the Toshiba Satellite Z830 and the Asus Zenbook. However, a cut-price Core i5 version of the Acer Aspire S3-951 can be had if your budget is tight, and nobody will be disappointed by the excellent performance of this Core i7 model.

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Samsung Series 3

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 Samsung Series 3

Overview

Hot on the heels of Samsung’s Series 7 and Series 9 laptops comes the more budget-friendly Samsung Series 3 NP305V5AI.

This AMD-powered portable PC uses less powerful components than its older siblings, but comes in at half the cost too, making it better suited to families and users with more basic needs.

After reviewing a long line of black and silver laptops, the Samsung Series 3 was immediately refreshing, with its friendly blue design. This colourful metallic finish covers the lid and the keyboard, with a white interior giving it a fresh appearance.

Anyone with small children will be relieved to hear it’s solidly built too, so can withstand a bashing by tiny fists. The Samsung Series 3 laptop’s palm rests are firm, and we only noticed a little flex around the DVD drive. The screen is held firm by some strong hinges, while the lid itself is rigid enough to absorb any bumps, to protect the display.

Samsung series 3 review

As usual, the laptop’s isolation-style keyboard is comfortable for all-day typing. Keys are firmly mounted and spaced apart to prevent typos, and none of them are particularly crushed – even the arrow keys are given generous space, instead of being crammed into a single row.

Spreadsheet lovers rejoice – the Samsung Series 3 laptop also has a numeric keypad for those sweaty number crunching sessions.

We did find the very centre of the board a little spongy, but while this cheapens the feel of the overall quality, it doesn’t impair your typing in any way.

The touchpad is similarly well-endowed, covering the full width of the palm rests. The smooth surface is responsive, and supports multi-touch gesturing for zooming in and out of photos and documents. If you rub your finger up and down the right-hand edge, you can also scroll through files.

At 2.5kg, the Samsung Series 3 is fairly average for a 15.6-inch laptop, proving light enough to throw in a backpack and carry around all day.

Specifications and performance

Specifications

Samsung series 3 review

If you’re constantly on the move and want a portable computer to keep you entertained or productive, the Samsung Series 3 is a great option. One massively useful feature is the matt 15.6-inch screen, which lacks the shiny gloss coating of many modern laptops. This might not seem like a big deal, but the difference when you’re outside is impressive.

While glossy Super-TFT displays are a massive pain to use outside, reflecting light straight back into your eyes, the Samsung Series 3’s screen is almost completely non-reflective. You can work on it even in hideously bright conditions.

This is also helped by the brightness levels of the display. Turned to maximum, the panel is comfortable to use even for extended periods. It’s vibrant enough to bring your photos and movies to life, although viewing angles are a little tight.

Cinephiles can enjoy HD movies on this PC laptop, with 1080p videos playing perfectly. Of course the 1366 x 768p resolution doesn’t produce the sharpest visuals, but we didn’t notice any grainy-looking images.

However, the Samsung Series 3’s built-in speakers are typically rubbish, lacking any real oomph. A gunfight in The Dark Knight sounded more like a barrel of damp firecrackers going off.

We love carrying our entire media collection with us wherever we roam, and the Samsung Series 3’s dual hard drives don’t disappoint. You get 750GB of storage – enough for hundreds of HD movies and hundreds of thousands of music albums. It’s definitely a generous amount, considering the relatively low cost of this laptop.

Features are a little slim on the ground, but you get three USB ports for hooking up your own peripherals, and both VGA and HDMI options for attaching an external monitor. Built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi means you can hook up to the internet.

Performance

Samsung series 3 review

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Cinebench 10: 7,198
3D Mark ’06: 5,330
Battery Eater ’05: 136 mins

The Samsung Series 3 laptop slashes its price by using budget components, compared to the Sandy Bridge-powered Series 7. This laptop features an AMD A6-3410MX quad-core processor, running at 1.6GHz, backed up by 6GB of RAM.

Our Cinebench tests confirmed that the Samsung Series 3 isn’t much of a performance heavyweight. You can happily browse the web, tinker with word processing documents and enjoy your media, all at the same time, but anything more strenuous causes the odd stutter.

This will suit most families fine, but don’t expect a laptop that’ll last you for years to come.

The Samsung Series 3’s AMD chipset also handles graphics, and the integrated AMD Radeon HD 6480G GPU is surprisingly capable. Our 3D Mark score was comparable with many low-end dedicated graphics cards, and the Samsung Series 3 laptop can comfortably run older games.

New releases will struggle, however, so gamers should look to up their budget to find a computer with dedicated graphics.

On the other hand, if all you want to do is edit your photos and movies, and watch the occasional HD film, the Samsung Series 3 is a dependable laptop.

If you’re strapped for cash but want a more powerful machine, we’d recommend the Acer Aspire 5750G, which comes kitted out with Sandy Bridge processors. Not only that, it costs roughly the same as the Samsung Series 3.

Sadly, the battery life is less impressive. We were hoping for over three hours of life from a charge, as we got with the Samsung Series 7, but the Samsung Series 3 died after just 136 minutes of playing HD video on loop. This is below average for budget laptops like this, and means you’ll have to drag the adapter with you on longer journeys.

Limit yourself to less intensive activities, such as office software and web browsing, and you’ll eek out three hours. It’s still unimpressive, and definitely disappointing.

On a more positive note, the Samsung Series 3 is a quiet machine. And we didn’t notice any hotspots during use – keep the vents clear and it stays reassuringly cool.

Verdict

Samsung series 3 review

The Samsung Series 3 is a cut-price laptop that banks on the latest AMD quad-core technology, but does it set itself apart from the budget laptop hordes?

We liked

The Samsung Series 3 NP305V5AI’s design is appealing, considering so many laptops at this price point feature a dull black or silver finish. The metallic blue lid and keyboard stand out among its peers, and the Samsung Series 3 is solid enough to survive a reasonable amount of abuse.

Just as colourful is the 15.6-inch widescreen panel. It’s also comfortably bright and shuns a glossy coating, making it perfect for working outdoors.

The keyboard is comfortable to work on all day, or if you’d rather kick back with a film, the Samsung Series 3 plays HD films smoothly.

The integrated AMD graphics are surprisingly capable, and while you can’t play recent games, you can certainly waste hours on older or more basic titles.

Video editing is also perfectly possible.

Finally, you can carry a sizeable media collection, thanks to the 750GB of internal storage.

We disliked

However, the AMD processor is still highly limiting, and will quickly become out of date. This isn’t uncommon for a budget machine, but the likes of the Acer Aspire 5750G offers Intel Sandy Bridge performance for the same price.

We were also massively disappointed by the Samsung Series 3’s battery life, which barely lasts long enough for a two-hour film. If you suffer a long commute like us, you’ll need to carry your charger and power it up at work.

Final verdict

By cutting down the specs of the Series 7 laptop, Samsung has produced a more pocket-friendly laptop that should appeal to families and anyone looking for dependable budget performance.

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Dell Inspiron 14z

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 Dell Inspiron 14z

Immediately there is plenty to like about the Dell Inspiron 14z. The metallic red colour (costing an extra £10, but definitely worth it), 2.1kg weight, comfortable keyboard and curvy design all strike you as soon as you pick it up for inspection.

Furthermore, it has the right mix of power and price thanks to the mid-range Sandy Bridge processor and 4GB memory. There are one or two minor niggles that stop it achieving solid gold status but, overall, we’re very impressed.

Starting with the obvious, the Inspiron 14z is gorgeous to look at. A metallic, fire-red colour makes it instantly recognizable and the brushed aluminium finish affords it premium status.

Dell is all about the slim and light this year, and the Inspiron 14z is no exception – weighing only 2.1kg with a 14-inch screen, this laptop is made for portability.

Strangely, there’s a protruding ridge underneath the laptop coming from the battery that easily adds a half an inch of thickness to an otherwise very slim chassis. The plus side of this is an ever-so slightly inclined typing angle, so it’s not all bad.

Attractive keyboard

Dell inspiron 14z

Speaking of typing, the Inspiron 14z gives you an isolation-style keyboard with cutesy rounded keys that are comfortable to use. This is a condensed keyboard – there’s no numeric keypad – but this is better than trying to cram too much onto too small a space. Interestingly, the Return key – usually the first casualty – is big, chunky and very easy to hit.

Unfortunately, usability is let down somewhat by the touchpad: it’s not particularly responsive and suffers from left and right click buttons that are too heavy and a pain to use. The cursor also has a tendency to lock into the scroll bar at the slightest provocation which can be annoying when navigating a web page.

While the smaller screen is ideal for portability, purists may prefer a 15.6-inch laptop for enjoying multimedia content. Also, the Inspiron 14z’s screen isn’t one of the brightest we’ve seen. There’s no lack of detail or colour reproduction but we have to admit that an immersive movie experience isn’t this laptop’s strong point.

If you want to play high-definition content you can, although you’ll have to stop short of 1080p resolution and content yourself with the more modest 720p.

Performance wise, the Inspiron 14z doesn’t go the whole hog with a Core i7 processor, opting for a less powerful second generation Core i5 2430M chip instead. The result is a supremely powerful laptop at a price that still appeals. And, while you don’t want less than 4GB RAM, you don’t really need more either.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 232 minutes
Cinebench: 9183
3DMark 2006: 3124

In short, this laptop will handle all of your needs – from basic editing to web surfing – without sucking all of the funds from your bank account.

On top of that, the Inspiron 14z has a very impressive battery life. Dell has been keen to stress the portability of this machine and has made sure you can get a decent amount of use from it between charges. We ran the high-powered Battery Eater program over a looped high-definition video and scored the Dell at 232 minutes – an extremely respectable result.

There’s a lot to like about this laptop – like its long battery life and portable design – but we also noticed one or two niggling flaws that got in the way during prolonged use. However, owning a laptop of this quality for under £600 is a fantastic deal that shouldn’t be missed.

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Novatech nSpire 2760 Black Edition

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 Novatech nSpire 2760 Black Edition

There’s not a lot that surprises us, and when we unboxed the Novatech nSpire Black Ed 2760, we feared the worst.

A flimsy chassis and the lack of style that we’ve become accustomed to on high-end laptops indicated another lacklustre machine, but it appears that we were mistaken.

Under the hood is an Intel Core i7 2460M processor, which stormed our benchmark tests, scoring among the highest figures we’ve seen in our labs. This was also helped by the 8GB of RAM that makes this laptop positively sing.

Next up is the impressive Nvidia GeForce 555M graphics card, which is easily capable of playing HD movies and the latest games. It got strong scores in our lab tests, and while you might not be able to play Battlefield 3 on full settings, with the detail turned down, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Battery life also impresses, with our power hungry tests achieving a very strong 222 minutes. This means you could work away from the power for over four hours, and even watch an HD movie on the move.

While there’s enough juice for working on the move, at 2.8KG we wouldn’t recommend the Novatech as a portable laptop. It’s bulky, heavy and cumbersome, and not one for a day on your back.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 222 minutes
Cinebench: 18842
3DMark 2006: 11654

Screen burn

However, for all the impressive tech that’s packed inside, the poor build quality of the exterior does more than let this machine down aesthetically.

We tested a number of movies on the Novatech, and found the screen appalling. There was no vibrancy to the colours, it was grainy when playing back HD content, and there was substantial screen tearing. We hope this was just a problem with the review sample, but as the issue is caused by a disparity between the graphics card and screen refresh times, we think this is simply a gulf in quality between the two items.

The poor build quality manifests itself elsewhere too. The grey plastic wrist rest flexes when you push it, as does the lid. The keyboard is awful, with little refinement given to the black plastic keys. They’re barely cushioned and feel loose and spongy to the touch.

The trackpad is better and we much prefer it to the current trend of single buttons which are a nightmare to master.

What we have with the Novatech is a fantastic powered laptop, admirably capable of dealing with most things you can throw at it. There’s limitless performance power, great graphics and it even has a decent battery life as well.

Unfortunately, we’re still yet to be surprised by a laptop, and the Novatech is no exception; a model hobbled by cost saving and corner cutting, that more than explains its low price. It’s impossible to really enjoy movies or games on the poor screen, and if you have £750 to spend, we’d recommend saving up the extra for quality machines like the Dell XPS 15z.

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Acer Aspire 7750

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 Acer Aspire 7750

At first glance, the Acer Aspire 7750 seems like a good choice for a 17-inch multimedia laptop. It has a simple, clean design with plenty of storage space and powerful speakers. Unfortunately, a couple of underlying issues pull the overall experience down somewhat.

Firstly, the grey and silver plastic design is nondescript. It looks much nicer on the inside of the laptop, though, offset against the black keyboard and screen bezel.

As this is a 17-inch laptop, there’s lots of space to go around, and Acer accentuates this by putting a regular keyboard square in the middle of the chassis, adding a touchpad and leaving it at that.

There are no hotkeys, no flashing lights and although it’s difficult to tell from the picture, the chassis feels expansive and spacious. All well and good, until you realise that the build quality (of the keyboard in particular) is pretty shabby. We felt quite a bit of flex around the edges of the chassis and the keyboard was practically bouncing up and down as we typed.

The machine isn’t particularly heavy at 2.9kg, but since most people buying a 17-inch laptop aren’t looking for portability we’d be happy with a few extra grammes in exchange for a more solid build.

While we’re on the subject, we’re going to assume most people buy a 17-inch laptop for the screen – be it to browse the web or watch a movie. The screen here is decent, complete with Super-TFT reflective coating, but the 1366 x 766 pixel resolution limits you to 720p HD content when, really, we’d quite fancy the full-blown effect of a 1920 x 1080 resolution.

Similarly, the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics card means the latest games and editing suite will have trouble running here.

Huge hard drive

If you want to put your media on the Aspire 7750 – high-definition or otherwise – you have a huge 720GB hard drive to fill up. If music is your thing, then the Dolby Advanced Audio speakers will go some way to convincing you this is the laptop to buy. You can get plenty of volume, but at no point does the audio become fuzzy or distorted – no mean feat for a laptop.

General performance is no slouch either. The Aspire rocks an Intel Core i5-2410M CPU that coped admirably with both our benchmark tests and general usage. We should probably attribute some of that to the generous 6GB of RAM Acer has stashed away inside. It’s more than the average 4GB and while it won’t make much of a performance difference for the average user, it will help your laptop last that little bit longer into the future.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 135 minutes
Cinebench: 9652
3DMark 2006: 4646

Yet, in spite of the positives, we have difficulty recommending the Aspire because it doesn’t specifically do what we want a 17-inch laptop to do – which is provide an awesome visual experience.

We understand Acer wanting to keep the price down, but a better choice would be the Dell Inspiron 17R or the Lenovo G770.

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Sony Introduces High-End Notebook — Soyy Vaio Y

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Sony Introduces High-End Notebook — Soyy Vaio Y

The Japanese manufacturer Sony returns to bet on the more advanced configuration netbooks and renews its 11.6-inch model. The new Sony VAIO Y VPCYB39KJ was updated in Japan and designed for users who want a little more performance in a small size computer. Apparently the new Sony VAIO Y does not have great aesthetic modifications in relation to the model and is sold in the world. This maintains the same compact lines, presented in a rather sober gray.

In his side can clearly see the activity indicator and equipment in the typical green color of the line Sony. No doubt the aesthetic shows a simple and versatile product adapted to the new type device designs that Apple launched its MacBook Air. So long ago Apple introduced the chiclet keyboard layout that makes typing extensively and in turn the simpler designs we see in this Sony VAIO Y.

One of the windows of this netbook is a 11.6-inch display which offers a better display of information. Besides this, with 1.5 inches in size the manufacturer was able to place larger size keys becoming more comfortable typing. Combine these features with its low weight, we can conclude that the Sony VAIO Y is a good choice for many who needs digital texts anywhere. The screen has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels display, ensuring sound and video files from the work area of ​​the operating system.

The processor is an AMD E-450 of 1.65 GHz that works in partnership with a Radeon HD 6320. The netbook also has 2 GB DDR3 RAM, 500 GB hard drive, webcam, memory card reader, WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 and HDMI port. The operating system model is the Windows 7 Home Premium. For its part, Sony disclose the price of memory cards PS Vita, with the launch of Playstation Vita closer promising some details about the Sony laptop are being revealed as the battery that has displeased many people and now the price of memory cards used by this.

Probably looking to reduce the cost of production and consecutively the final price of the device to the public, Sony chose not to include internal memory in the Vita and therefore have to buy storage cards for content such as movies, games and songs. The big problem is as usual in the Japanese firm will use the game cards themselves and some people that something suspicious was confirmed, the price charged by them will be well more than what I paid on an SD card for example.

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