NEC Versa S940 review

Price when reviewed

The S940 has the distinction of being the cheapest notebook on test, although it doesn’t feel it. The screen – an unusual 13in TFT – is one of the brightest and clearest on show. The widescreen resolution of 1,280 x 768 is the same as the 12.1in screens on other models, but the extra screen size makes text more legible. The keyboard is also one of the better examples: the widescreen aspect ratio means NEC has managed to make almost all of the keys full-sized.

NEC Versa S940 review

At this price, there were bound to be compromises and the most obvious is the machine’s bulk: at 320 x 227 x 37mm (WDH), the S940 is one of the biggest machines here. The 2.1kg weight puts it at the limit of what we’d consider thin and light, but you’ll be hard pushed to find a lighter notebook for similar money.

The 1.6GHz Pentium M is held back by the 855GM chipset: it could only achieve 1.21 in our benchmarks, but 512MB of RAM keeps Windows ticking over smoothly. The 40GB hard disk doesn’t compare well to the 60GB and 80GB disks on other systems, but, once again, many people will find it hard to fill even 40GB.

It wasn’t too surprising to find a basic CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive in the side of the NEC. If you need a DVD writer, Rock offers one for just £50 more. NEC caters for a decent range of memory cards, though: the single slot manages to accommodate SD/MMC, Memory Stick and xD-Picture cards.

There are only two USB 2 ports, but a mini-FireWire port adds to the connectivity and there’s an infrared receiver too. As you’d expect from a Centrino notebook, an 802.11 radio allows wireless connections.

Under intensive use, the Versa managed one hour, 27 minutes on its 4,400mAh battery. There’s a rather noisy fan that measured 38.2dBA from the side to dissipate the extra heat (we measured 36.6C at the base). If you can keep the unit cool to avoid the fan spinning up and also avoid running CPU-intensive apps, you should see a battery time nearer our light-use test time of four hours, 40 minutes.

The NEC is by no means a bad notebook, and the one-year collect-and-return warranty is good for this price. Before you buy, though, note that Rock charges only £50 more for its Pegasus and includes a carry case, DVD writer and two extra years of warranty.

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