The Novatech Xplora E16 comes close to filling the void between netbook and budget laptop. It's aimed at those looking for an affordable web-browsing machine with a little extra grunt than a netbook.
Whether or not the Novatech Xplora E16's low price will outweigh its limitations will depend upon exactly how tight your budget is.
The biggest problem with the E16 is easy to identify - it simply isn't very powerful. The 1.6GHz AMD Athlon TF-20 processor is superior to the likes of the Intel Atom favoured by netbooks, but next to the processors you should expect at the £500 level, it simply can't compare.
Raw speed isn't everything, but this may not be a deficiency you'll want to overlook given the Novatech Xplora E16's slow 51 point score in WorldBench 6. The 2GB of DDR2 RAM is a useful complement, and essential for the post-Windows XP world. A 250GB Fujitsu hard drive provides a reasonable amount of storage at the price though.
The Novatech Xplora E16 does benefit from having a ATI Radeon X1270 graphics controller. This offers better performance than some of the insipid alternatives in many laptops, and its 10 frames per second in our FEAR tests suggest that, while games may not be its forté, it will be capable of juicing up PC visuals.
The 15.6in display has an expansive resolution of 1366x768. It's hardly the most lavish of screens, but the image is serviceable.
The trackpad could be more responsive, and it wasn't always easy to tell exactly which of the two buttons you were clicking. The Novatech Xplora E16 itself felt slightly flimsy - even if its 2.9kg weight makes it one of the heavier models in the sub-£500 category - and the keyboard was a touch soft.
One area that's harder to fault is the Wi-Fi connectivity, and 802.11n support is excellent given the pricing. Battery lifetime is very poor. The MobileMark score of 158 minutes suggests you can't expect much more than two hours of use.
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