Hi-Grade Notino C2200-1700 review

Price when reviewed

The Notino C2200 is one of four sub-£800 machines in the Labs this month and is impressively small for the price. Although quite thick at 40mm, a depth of just 220mm means it will squeeze into even the most limited of luggage space, and at 1.95kg it won’t weigh you down too much either.

Hi-Grade Notino C2200-1700 review

Unfortunately, we were far less impressed when we tried to use the C2200 in anger, as it possesses one of the most difficult-to-use screens we’ve seen. The 12.1in panel with its 1,280 x 800 resolution was highly reflective, and we had to be careful when positioning it to avoid ceiling lights dazzling us.

The screen might be the weakest link, but the rest of the ergonomics were up to scratch. The keyboard was mildly noisy during fast typing, but our only real gripe was the layout. Widescreen laptops typically mean larger keys, but the Notino’s keyboard doesn’t span the entire width of the chassis. As a result, there are several half-width keys – most frustratingly the comma and full-stop keys.

A 1.7GHz Pentium M 735 provides the processing power, while 512MB of RAM means the C2200 should be able to handle large files; note, though, that both DIMM sockets are full. In our benchmarks, the Hi-Grade scored 1.60, which means it will capably handle office jobs and won’t break into a sweat handling or editing media files.

The C2200 didn’t cope quite so well in the next portion of our tests: battery life. The 2,040mAh unit could only fuel the machine under intensive use for 55 minutes, and didn’t quite manage to stretch to three hours in our light-use test. If you need to rely on battery power, you’ll be better off with the Elonex: it costs the same but comes with a spare battery.

The Hi-Grade gains ground with a dual-layer DVD writer (rather than Elonex’s combo drive), which makes backing up the capacious 80GB hard disk a more realistic prospect. The only flash memory slot is for CompactFlash cards, though, and there are just two USB 2 ports. Unlike some competitors, FireWire and S-Video ports are also present. Plus, the Hi-Grade only registered 33dBA from the side under heavy use.

Despite the low price, impressive specs and attractive form factor, the relatively poor battery life and reflective screen mean you should think carefully before buying the Notino. The two-year collect-and-return warranty certainly adds to the Hi-Grade’s attraction, but in a Labs full of choice there are other, more tempting buys this month.

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