AJP G220 Traveller review
This latest offering from notebook specialist AJP costs £50 less than the current king of mid-range laptops, the MV Mobeus. It’s more stylish too, with its convincing brushed-steel effect finish, which is actually plastic. However, compromises have been made to meet the aggressive price point.
The most notable is the 1.5GHz Intel Celeron M 340 processor. Although it may not sound much different to the 1.6GHz Pentium M 725 inside the Mobeus, this was 50 per cent quicker in our benchmarks. As the chief difference between the two chips is their amount of Level 2 cache – 512KB on the Celeron M 340, 2MB on the Pentium M 725 – this once again demonstrates how little processor frequency matters.
To be fair, we found the G220 to be very responsive in day-to-day use: we weren’t left twiddling our thumbs when installing programs or while working. Only those who perform CPU-intensive image-manipulation tests should definitely avoid this choice of CPU and RAM (just 256MB), as the G220 did struggle here.
Should you require extra power, you can opt for the 1.6GHz Pentium M 725 – with its 2MB Level 2 cache – for an extra £99. Extra RAM would also help to keep Windows XP zipping along more smoothly; 512MB costs a reasonable £49, with 1GB available for £199.
We were hoping the lack of power might be made up for in better battery life, but our tests produced a distinctly mixed response. In our intensive tests, which force the machine to run at full pelt with brightness set to maximum, the G220 lasted an impressive 2 hours, 22 minutes – nearly double that of the Mobeus. However, switching to light use (the machine idles, writing to the hard disk every minute with the backlight set to the minumum readable level) only extended the life by an hour: based on previous experience with similarly specified Pentium M processors, we expected it to last for four or five hours. We spoke to both AJP and Intel about possible causes for this anomolous result, and retested the machine on several occasions, but we couldn’t find a way to improve this result.
People who need portability as a priority should also note the G220’s 2.35kg weight – the Mobeus weighs 2.08kg, while the Toshiba Portege M300 (see p62) weighs in at just 1.66kg. This is reflected in the £1,300 price though.
Like all manufacturers, AJP insists that the battery is a consumable and so won’t be covered by the warranty. A replacement or spare will cost £100. The warranty itself isn’t great either, with the first year requiring you to return the unit, though it does cover labour and parts. The second and third year cover only labour.
Our concerns over the warranty are allayed somewhat by the sturdy chassis. We’d like to see a little more protection for the screen though, as the lid flexed under pressure, pushing against the back of the screen. And although it’s great to see a bag supplied, its padding is minimal. Thankfully, the G220 Traveller is small enough to be carried in a briefcase or rucksack, rather than in a ‘please steal me’ standard notebook bag.
Though comparable in size to the Mobeus, the G220 is slighter deeper, allowing for a larger wrist-rest area thanks to the extra space required above the screen for the 1.3-megapixel webcam. We found its responsiveness and image quality perfectly acceptable for video conferencing.
The screen itself matches that of the Mobeus; a 12.1in panel with a widescreen resolution (1,280 x 800) providing plenty of workspace for spreadsheets. The reflective coating gives images more vibrancy and richness than a conventional TFT, but can prove distracting when working under bright lights. You’ll only notice the tight vertical viewing angle when watching DVDs from a distance. The screen has superb horizontal viewing angles though, letting you easily show presentations to groups of people.