We liked the slimline design of the 17in Hi-Grade Ultinote SA9900SR laptop but it isn't the prettiest of models. Despite its low price tag, the Ultinote is far from the poor relation of this price category.

The Hi-Grade Ultinote SA9900SR turned in a rapid WorldBench real-world speed test, notching up 92 points – enough to beat even the capable HP Pavilion dv9595ea into second place.

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The 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 processor and 2GB of DDR RAM clearly make a good partnership, if the Hi-Grade Ultinote SA9900SR is anything to go by.

Not everything about the Hi-Grade Ultinote SA9900SR is as impressive, however. In common with some other laptops, its screen has a native resolution of 1,440x900 pixels. This means the Hi-Grade Ultinote SA9900SR can't take full advantage of the high-definition display capabilities of the 256MB ATI Radeon 2400 XT graphics card installed in it.

The Hi-Grade Ultinote SA9900SR has a glossy finish to the screen but we found items displayed clearly and crisply.

Not everyone will find the Hi-Grade Ultinote SA9900SR's 160GB hard disk sufficient for their needs, although archiving can be done using the combo DVD+/-RW drive. The DVD tray is rather flimsy, however.

NEXT PAGE: battery life and our expert verdict > >

The only real let down is that the Hi-Grade Ultinote SA9900SR's batteries expire so quickly. On a Balanced power setting we found they ran down in a scant hour and 17 minutes.

Since Hi-Grade has gone to the effort of designing a powerful laptop that expertly balances a home user's entertainment and increased screen size needs with the portability vital to making it a creditable mobile machine, this seemed rather an oversight.

Hi-Grade Ultinote SR9900AR: Specs

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, SpeedStep
  • 800MMHz FSB
  • 4MB L2 cache
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 3 USB ports, 1 FireWire port
  • 160GB hard drive
  • 393x290x28mm
  • 3.7kg
  • 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, Ethernet
  • 17in WXGA, 1,400x900 screen
  • ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT, 256MB
  • Express Card slot, SD, MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, FireWire, TV-out, 6-cell lithium-ion battery
  • DVD/CD-RW combo drive
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, SpeedStep
  • 800MMHz FSB
  • 4MB L2 cache
  • 1GB DDR2 RAM
  • 3 USB ports, 1 FireWire port
  • 160GB hard drive
  • 393x290x28mm
  • 3.7kg
  • 802.11b/g, Bluetooth, Ethernet
  • 17in WXGA, 1,400x900 screen
  • ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT, 256MB
  • Express Card slot, SD, MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, FireWire, TV-out, 6-cell lithium-ion battery
  • DVD/CD-RW combo drive
  • Windows Vista Home Premium

OUR VERDICT

Only just creeping into our Power price category, the Hi-Grade Ultinote SA9900SR nonetheless did the most to impress us. While some will feel the 160GB hard drive is a slight compromise, the performance and otherwise excellent specifications mark out the Ultinote for greatness. That spare battery pack may come in useful, though.

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