Evesham Voyager C550 review

Price when reviewed

Like most brand-new technologies, we expected Core Duo laptops to launch with a hefty premium attached. But Evesham has managed to build one for under £1,000.

It isn’t exactly cheap, but with a benchmark score of 0.98 the C550 offers enough power to rival dual-core desktops of twice the price. It even competes with the blinding speed of the Acer TravelMate 8204WLMi (see opposite), even though it features the slower Core Duo T2400, with each core running at 1.83GHz. It has only 512MB of RAM too – a practical minimum for a PC that might have Windows Vista on it by the end of this year. The hard disk is more generous at 100GB, sufficient space to feasibly make this your primary PC.

Like the Acer TravelMate, the Voyager C550 uses ATi’s Radeon Mobility X1600 – sufficient for most games to be playable, albeit not at their most impressive settings.

The 15.4in widescreen TFT has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,600, which is the highest of all three laptops here. Thanks to a high contrast ratio, Windows is generally a pleasure to use, although we were surprised to see notable motion lag. Even moving the mouse slowly across the screen caused a trail to appear, and although games and movies weren’t rendered unplayable, there was evident smearing.

We weren’t fans of the keyboard on our pre-production sample either; it’s usable, if rather spongy. Hopefully, these issues will improve once full production begins – we’ll bring you an update once it does.

Evesham has included a sweetener in the shape of a Vodafone Mobile Connect 3G/GPRS card, as well as 10MB of free transfers. It’s a good-value bonus, particularly if your travels take you away from the usual wireless hotspot providers. But the Voyager’s weight of 3.2kg isn’t going to win it favour with the regular traveller. And, although Intel claims that we should routinely see a day’s worth of power by 2008, the C550’s paltry one hour, 59 minutes under light use shows we’ve got some way to go yet.

But the C550 fills what, for now, is the budget end of the Core Duo market. The warranty is a huge bonus, with two years of on-site maintenance followed by a year’s return-to-base support outclassing both the Acer and the Sony, in spite of the lower price. If you’re after lots of power, the Evesham offers a fantastic bang-per-buck ratio.

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