Product testing is done in a very open manner here at PC Advisor. We like to have each item out on display where all the members of the team can come and assess it. Even those of us who don't work on reviews will have a nose round and make comments about most of the kit. But nothing in the past has inspired as much excitement and awe as the AJP M590K. Some merely gawped; others laughed; most of the rest shrieked and ran away. The reason? It's an absolute monster.
The M590K - the world's first SLI (scalable link interface) 19in widescreen laptop, according to AJP, although others have undoubtedly hit the market since – is certainly what you'd call an imposing model. But the question we desperately need answered is this: does anyone really want a laptop this size? It's not exactly mobile at 6.5kg, and a desktop PC would be much more upgradeable.
The cynic in us suspects that 19in laptops won't prove to be very successful – we reckon they are being manufactured to prove a point more than anything else. And when you're forking out £2,350 for one of these models, you'll have to be pretty sure you want the thing.
The AJP's visuals are its outstanding feature. But its overall performance is nothing to sneeze at, powered by an AMD Turion 64 MT-40 processor and 2GB of DDR RAM. Its WorldBench processing speed score of 101 is very strong - not many laptops pass the century. An analogue/digital TV tuner is built-in to the unit, and the 100GB Sata (serial ATA) drive means the AJP can realistically be used as a hard-disk TV recorder. There are DVI and S-Video outputs, mini-FireWire, five USB 2.0 ports and a 4-in-1 card reader.
Although the M590K is clearly a desktop-replacement model, wireless facilities have been included. Using the AJP on the move really isn't a feasible proposition – you'd have to ask the person next to you on the train for a fair bit of their lap space. It's so big that if you put it in your garden you'd have the council visiting to ask if you had planning permission. Software is thin on the ground. Other than the operating system and the standard media-burning and DVD-playback programs, there isn't anything to speak of. The warranty is three years, but doesn't provide onsite cover.
Dual-SLI laptops: the pros and cons
Admittedly, dual-SLI technology has been around for a while – but it's a new thing for laptops. There are two issues that have to be considered when adding this feature to a notebook: having enough space to physically fit in the cards, and positioning them so they can stay cool enough to operate at their optimum level.
What this boils down to is that you need to have a large chassis to house the graphics chips. Fortunately, that's exactly what the AJP has got.
In this case, big is beautiful. The M590K's 19in TFT screen is a stunning piece of hardware, stretching to a resolution of 1,680x1,050. And if the screen was given its choice of graphics card – or cards – then surely it would plump for the pair of 256MB GeForce Go 7800s contained within the AJP. The dual-SLI configuration proved to be a capable setup that would suit keen gamers or those who work with graphics-intensive apps.
It blitzed the graphics tests we ran, hitting frame rates of 100fps (frames per second) and 104fps in Doom3 and Halo respectively at a resolution of 1,280x1,024. We have seen faster – but not on a laptop with a screen of this size.