So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
NEC Versa P9210-2500DR
Big, powerful and well-equipped
- Good performance, Blu-ray player, HDMI port, eSATA port, excellent network connectivity
- Keyboard can be difficult to use, viewing angle is limited, heavy
The NEC Versa P9210-2500DR offers great performance and excellent connectivity at a reasonable price. If you can stand the large size, heavy weight and occasional typing difficulties, then this device should make you very happy.
Price$ 2,499.00 (AUD)
Despite recent drops in notebook sales growth, laptop sales continue to outstrip desktops thanks to their versatility and increasingly powerful hardware. The well-performing NEC Versa P9210-2500DR is a case in point, with good home entertainment options and excellent connectivity.
Even when compared to other desktop replacements, the Versa is a bit of a behemoth. The device weighs in at 3.3kg without the power supply, and throwing it in together brings the total weight to 4.1kg. Its chassis size (396x295x35mm) will also make carrying the device a pain.
For a unit this size, we'd also to see a full-sized keyboard. Instead, NEC has decided to include a number pad, reducing the period and curser keys in the process, which makes touch-typing more difficult.
For those of you who don't really care about the unit's weight and still want to use it away from an outlet, you'll be happy to hear that its 9-cell battery lasted for 2hr 6min in our battery run-down tests. Meanwhile, its 17.1in display has a native resolution of 1440x900 and produces vivid images with great colours and contrast, and movies are played without dithering. However, the viewing angle is unimpressive.
For listening to music, watching movies and playing games, the NEC offers 4.1 speakers. While this sounds good on paper, the audio is not much better than other units in the same price bracket that are equipped with 2.1 speakers.
What home entertainment users will be more impressed by is the laptop's Blu-ray player and HDMI port, which allow users to play high-definition Blu-ray discs on their notebook and display them on LCD or Plasma TVs.
The P9210-2500DR's gaming performance, while not spectacular, is surprisingly good. The notebook, equipped with a NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT, returned a 3DMark06 score of 5881. Although this prevents newer games such as Crysis from running at impressive settings, older games like F.E.A.R. can be played smoothly on medium to high settings.
The good hardware of this Centrino 2–certified device doesn't stop there, with a 320GB, 5400rpm hard drive, a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 CPU and 3GB of DDR2 RAM also included. Our WorldBench 6 tests returned a great score of 105, which means that even hardware-intensive tasks such as 3-D rendering or video encoding can be done smoothly.
In our iTunes testing, where we convert 53min worth of WAV files into 192Kbps MP3 files, the Versa completed the task in 1min 9sec. This is slightly slower than what we were expecting, but still fairly quick.
NEC is traditionally good at providing a range of expandability options, and this unit is no exception. Three USB 2.0 ports are provided, as is a FireWire port, an ExpressCard/54 slot, a 4-in-1 card reader (MMC, MS, MSPro, SD), a D-sub port and an eSATA port. While eSATA ports remain underutilised by some device-makers, their inclusion helps future-proof this laptop.
In terms of connectivity, there is very little left out from this product. 802.11n wireless and Gigabit Ethernet provide the latest and fastest available networking options, while Bluetooth 2.0 gives users the option of connecting compatible devices such as wireless headsets.
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