Hi-Grade Notino D2400-1600 review
The sub-£1,000 laptop market is an unruly place. With Intel and AMD both competing so fiercely on performance and price, it’s now possible to buy portable machines with desktop levels of performance for substantially less than a grand.
Take the Hi-Grade Notino D2400, for instance. It costs less than £700, yet the 1.66GHz T2300 Core Duo processor helps it to a highly respectable score of 0.86 in our application benchmarks. We’d rather see more than the slightly stingey 512MB of RAM installed, though, particularly as it’s already split over two sticks: you’ll need to bin a perfectly good DIMM if you upgrade. Intel’s integrated GMA 950 provides a modicum of graphics power, but you’ll find it inadequate for demanding modern 3D games.
We’ve no complaints elsewhere, with the 80GB hard disk large enough for all but massive media libraries. You’ll be able to offload data and backups via the DVD-RW drive, which will write to most formats of CD and DVD, including dual-layer discs: the only unsupported format is DVD-RAM.
Things are similarly comprehensive on the other side of the chassis – a Type II PC Card slot doubles up as an ExpressCard/54 slot, while the memory card reader underneath it will read SD/MMC and Memory Stick cards. It all adds up to a surprisingly fully featured laptop, and it’s hard to think of a job that home users will want to do that the Notino doesn’t cater for.
Build quality is good, with the back of the screen being particularly solid. The keyboard is just a little too flexible, though; while this is nothing you won’t get used to, it’s certainly a poor relation compared to the heights of Lenovo’s ThinkPad R50e.
The glossy 14in screen is a nightmare to use in a brightly lit office. It’s simply too reflective to allow you to maintain concentration for an extended period of time, with fluorescent lights in particular being a problem. On the plus side, it produces strong and vibrant colours, which means films and photographs are reproduced vibrantly; it lends itself well to home entertainment and working in more domestic environments.
What’s more, our technical tests produced a good set of results. And the 1,280 x 800 resolution is high enough for standard jobs, even if it isn’t ideal for huge spreadsheets or high-resolution image editing.
The battery life is up to watching a film on the move as well. Under intense use, we managed to squeeze just over 1hr 30mins out of the Notino, which stretched under light use to 2hrs 45mins. Portability normally takes a hit in budget laptops – witness the 2.85kg weight of the Dell Inspiron 6400 – but the Notino weighs in at a very reasonable 2.54kg, which means that although you’ll be aware of it in a bag, carrying it around all day isn’t too arduous.
Raise the lid of the Notino, and the bottom of the screen dips beneath the back of the chassis, making for an attractive profile and convenient viewing angle. There are no ports on the back of the machine, though, leaving them crammed along the sides. For the most part, this isn’t inconvenient – you get four USB 2 ports on the left, with one isolated to make it easier to fit a thicker drive, while the right is populated by the D-SUB, S-Video and Gigabit Ethernet ports. The only downsides are the mini-FireWire and 3.5mm audio ports, which are located on the front. At best, this is inelegant when you’ve got a pair of headphones plugged in on a desk; at worst, the recessed ports are all but unusable when you’re travelling with the Notino on your lap.