You get a lot of laptop for your money with the Notino A9700-3400 from Hi-Grade – we just hope you don't want to play games on it.

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First, the bad. Hi-Grade has opted to stick with an onboard graphics chip, the 64MB Radeon Xpress 200M from ATI. And it's slow – our Doom3 and Halo tests suggest the A9700 wouldn't be much good for anything more complicated than solitaire.

But if gaming isn't your thing, this is irrelevant. The WorldBench 5 score of 88 is decent for the price tag, there's a 64bit processor running at 2.2GHz and a full 1GB of DDR RAM. You get dual-layer facilities on the DVD writer, so burning large amounts of data is a cinch, though you won't want to try DVD authoring – the graphics chip just won't be up to it. Watching DVD movies will be fine, though, as there's a decent 17in widescreen with a resolution of 1,440x900.

There were two things we really appreciated. First: Windows Media Centre for XP, which gives you all the functionality of Media Center 2005 Edition. Second: included in the bundle is the Hauppauge USB 2.0 DVBT card – a digital TV tuner. This is a great inclusion, considering the price. Connectivity options are good. There's an unusually high six USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire port, 802.11b/g wireless facilities and Bluetooth as well.

The rest of the software bundle isn't bad, either. You get OpenOffice and an all-important antivirus package. With two years of cover on the warranty, this package will give you just about everything you want from a sub-£1,200 laptop – besides a half-decent graphics card.

Hi-Grade Notino A9700-3400: Specs

  • 2.2GHz AMD Mobile Athlon 64 3400+ processor
  • Windows XP Home
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 100GB hard drive
  • 17in 1,440x900 TFT display
  • 64MB ATI Radeon Xpress 200M graphics chip
  • 24x/24x/16x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+R DL/-RW/+RW) drive
  • 802.11b/g facilities
  • Bluetooth
  • Media Center 2005 Edition
  • OpenOffice
  • Bullguard Antivirus
  • 2-year collect-and-return warranty
  • 393x280x33mm
  • 3.5kg
  • 2.2GHz AMD Mobile Athlon 64 3400+ processor
  • Windows XP Home
  • 1GB DDR RAM
  • 100GB hard drive
  • 17in 1,440x900 TFT display
  • 64MB ATI Radeon Xpress 200M graphics chip
  • 24x/24x/16x (CD-ROM/-R/-RW) 8x/8x/8x/4x/4x/4x (DVD-ROM/-R/+R/+R DL/-RW/+RW) drive
  • 802.11b/g facilities
  • Bluetooth
  • Media Center 2005 Edition
  • OpenOffice
  • Bullguard Antivirus
  • 2-year collect-and-return warranty
  • 393x280x33mm
  • 3.5kg

OUR VERDICT

You can't overlook the fact that the graphics chip on the Hi-Grade is poor, but the extent to which that actually matters depends on the user. If it's not a concern then this is an excellent laptop, narrowly missing out on one of PC Advisor's coveted Gold awards.

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