On the surface, the NEC Versa P8310-2402DR is a very good notebook. As one of two new releases under the P8310 banner, this Versa comes with a stylish piano-black cover that is a bit of a fingerprint magnet due to its glossy shine. Overall, however, the modern chic should outweigh the cleaning complaints for most users.
- Very attractive design, good variety of connections, good value
- Some keys are not large enough for efficient use, screen is fairly reflective in outdoor situations
The NEC Versa P8310-2402DR is an appealing choice for users who want an attractive and well-performing notebook. While it suffers from usability issues, such as a slightly cramped keyboard and a screen that can be excessively reflective, the benefits largely outweigh the negatives.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
Under the bonnet, the NEC is certainly not a slouch. An Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 CPU, which runs at 2.4GHz, features a 45nm (nanometre) core, a 3MB L2 cache and an 800MHz front side bus speed is augmented by 2GB of DDR2 667MHz RAM and a 5400rpm, 200GB SATA hard drive. The graphics are run off a GeForce 8600M GT, and the results are displayed though a 15.4in screen with a native resolution of 1680x1050.
In our WorldBench 6 tests, the Versa scored an 81, which is around what we were expecting from a processor of this strength. This result means that the unit is more than adequate for office applications and multitasking. In our iTunes MP3 encoding test, where we convert 53min worth of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3s to indicate CPU strength, the P8310 managed to complete the task in 1min 17sec, which is average.
Those wishing to use this notebook for high-end games will be disappointed by its 3DMark06 score of 2980, which means the unit could likely handle older games like FEAR at mid-to-low level settings, but would baulk at playing newer DX10 games such as Crysis.
The screen displays images with sharp clarity and viewing it at a variety of angles is fairly painless. The downside is excessive reflectivity. When using the unit outdoors in the sun, the screen becomes difficult to view, so users will have to keep this in mind and stick to the shade or indoors.
Sitting above the screen is a 1.3-megapixel camera and to the left of the keypad is a built-in microphone, which make video conferencing fairly simple to manage. A small selection of hotkeys above the keyboard toggle the wireless and Bluetooth components on and off, as well as providing quick access to e-mail and Internet programs.
The keyboard itself is a little less straightforward. The presence of a full number-pad is very nice for users who enjoy the convenience of easy digit entry. The trade-off is a reduction in space for buttons such as the full-stop and cursor-keys; this makes Web-browsing and typing an occasionally claustrophobic affair.
On the bright side, this notebook has plenty of connectivity options. For networking and Internet access, you get an 802.11a/b/g/n wireless module, a gigabit Ethernet port, an infrared port as well as a 56Kbps modem. Its Bluetooth 2.0 port will let you sync your phone or use wireless peripherals, while you'll also be able to use its FireWire and four USB 2.0 ports. A double-layer DVD burner and a multi-format card reader (MMC, SD, MC, xD) are also included. For external monitor and TV connections, you can use the D-Sub and S-Video out ports and you can plug any old devices into its PC Card slot.
At 2.65kg without its power supply, the Versa is better suited to a tabletop than a lap. It weighs 3.2kg with its power supply, which isn't too heavy for carrying to and from work or school.
In our DVD rundown test, where we push the batteries to the limit in a worst-case scenario, which ensures the screen, processor, speakers and optical drive are all running, the P8310 managed to last 1hr 17min. This was a little less than expected, but for most users, while running basic office software instead of a DVD, the battery will last much longer.
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