PC Nextday Zoostorm 54-6601 review

£821
Price when reviewed

If you plan to use your notebook on even the shortest of journeys, the PC Nextday isn’t for you. Even when idle, the battery lasts less than 1hr 30mins.

But if you want a notebook simply for home use, there’s much to like about the 54-6601. With a 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 and 2GB of memory, it raced through our benchmarks with a table-topping score of 1.17. The Toshiba has the same CPU with half the RAM, but it was the Office and 2D graphics tests – not the expected multitasking test – that saw the PC Nextday pull away.

This is mostly down to the Zoostorm’s Mobility Radeon X1600 chip. It isn’t for hard-core gamers, but if you lower a few settings, you’ll just about achieve playable frame rates at 1,024 x 768 in all but the latest titles. Usefully, the Zoostorm has DVI-I and 7-pin TV-out ports, so you can connect a second monitor or a TV.

The 15.4in 1,280 x 800 screen is bright, although the backlight is a little uneven around the edges. The speakers, meanwhile, are tinny and detract from the overall experience. Elsewhere, build quality is reasonable, but the styling is uninspired. There’s plenty of protection for the TFT, while the keyboard is fine for long periods of typing.

There are plenty of extras inside, from the 160GB hard disk to the Bluetooth and infrared capabilities, plus a card reader that extends its support to the newer xD-Picture format. And, like the Hi-Grade, there’s also a digital TV tuner inside to take full advantage of Vista Home Premium’s Media Center. Gigabit Ethernet is missing, but there’s an ExpressCard/54 slot, four USB ports, mini-FireWire and an optical S/PDIF output.

But with only a single year of return-to-base warranty, the Zoostorm loses out for value. With the Toshiba nipping at its heels for power – and boasting longer battery life – and the cheaper Sony offering better ergonomics and style, the 54-6601 doesn’t challenge for an award.

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