NEC Versa M340 review

£799
Price when reviewed

The first thing you notice about the NEC, apart from the low price, is that it’s much bulkier than the rest. It weighs 2.9kg and doesn’t have a tapered wrist-rest, so typing isn’t particularly comfortable. The wrist-rest is huge too, so the keyboard feels too far back.

NEC Versa M340 review

However, the Versa M340 has its highlights: it’s solidly built and packs in a decent selection of components and interfaces. At the core is a 1.6GHz Pentium M CPU, and completing the Centrino hardware is an 802.11b/g wireless radio. There’s 512MB of PC2700 RAM, but no room to upgrade, as the SODIMM socket is already occupied.

A 60GB hard disk is complemented by an LG DVD writer, which supports both DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW standards. FireWire, RJ-45 and RJ-11 ports are all present, while a Type II PC Card slot, a VGA output and three USB 2 ports complete the communications. This means legacy peripherals aren’t catered for, and there’s no infrared or Bluetooth.

As with the Fujitsu Siemens, the NEC has a 15in TFT rather than 14.1in. It doesn’t offer any more Desktop real-estate though – the native resolution is 1,024 x 768. It’s more than bright enough, but contrast and viewing angles aren’t great.

As standard, NEC provides a single year of collect-and-return warranty and doesn’t offer any upgrades, which will be a disappointment for some. Bespoke disk images and network pre-configuration services are catered for, though, costing £7 and £3 respectively. On-site installation isn’t cheap at £50, and remember that all these prices are per 100 notebooks.

In terms of security, there’s Kensington lock support, but little more. No management software is provided, and delivery is the most expensive on test at £53 per machine. End usersÊwon’t be playing any 3D games during idleÊperiods either – the integrated Intel graphics are only good for Solitaire and the like.

Although reflected by the price, it’s worth noting that no accessories are included – certainly no carry case and no anti-virus software. We can’t see Microsoft Works 7 proving much use too many businesses either.

If you’ll be away from mains power regularly, you can expect between two and four hours of battery life – this is one of the longer-lasting notebooks on test. Plus, a spare battery will set you back only £79 (only Dell and Toshiba charge less).

Overall, though, the Versa M340 isn’t the best notebook on offer. The uncomfortable keyboard drags down the Features & Design score and there are lighter notebooks around.

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