Elonex ProWire 153 review

Price when reviewed

Look at the ProWire 153 and you might think it seems familiar; and it is indeed a familiar chassis from Elonex. But what isn’t familiar is the price, as £499 is the lowest we’ve seen.

Elonex ProWire 153 review

While not the most stylish or well built, the ProWire is solid enough and will last if you look after it. And unlike some other budget notebooks, it has two immediate attractions. One is that it’s the only one here equipped with Windows Media Center Edition. It doesn’t come with a remote control, receiver or TV tuner, but you can add them for £100 including VAT (a USB hybrid analog/digital tuner is also included).

The second attraction is the 15in TFT. It’s brighter than others here and, while viewing angles are nothing special, it has better contrast than the Mesh and MV.

Inside resides a motherboard based on the Intel 915GM chipset and, to save money, a Celeron M 360 is installed. With 512MB of PC2700 memory, it managed only 0.57 in our 2D application benchmarks. But if you only want to browse the Internet, send emails and create the odd office document, you won’t sense any sluggishness.

Thankfully, Elonex has invested heavily in the rest of the components. The most obvious extra is a dual-layer DVD writer, which ejects to the front – a handy location in our opinion. The 80GB hard disk is only matched by Hi-Grade, Mesh and Watford, while an Intel WLAN radio supports 802.11a, b and g standards.

However, what really marks the ProWire out from the crowd is the detail. For example, there’s a spare memory socket and a parallel port for legacy peripherals. Infrared could be another bonus if you need it, while the media card reader will be useful if you own SD/MMC or Memory Stick cards. Lastly, there’s a VGA output along with an S-Video port that also supports component video.

All other connections you’d expect are present, including four USB 2 ports, mini-FireWire, a Type II PC Card slot, 10/100 Ethernet, modem plus headphone and microphone mini-jacks. Add to these a useful power switch for the wireless radio and a fairly loud set of integrated speakers, and few will have cause for complaint.

Battery life is good too. Expect anywhere between two hours, 28 minutes and three hours, 22 minutes, depending on how you use it. Also, replacement batteries are affordable at just £35.

The single year of return-to-base warranty and a lack of extra software is made up for by free delivery, the inclusion of a basic carry case and the fact that this is the only notebook to ship with Windows Media Center Edition. Overall, it’s superb value and should be highon your shortlist.

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