Summary

Our Score

8/10

Review Price free/subscription

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Update 10/07/07: This model has since been renamed the Zieo N550-HD.

Having had a look at some early samples of Santa Rosa notebooks in the Asus A7S and the Samsung R70, everyone in the office has been keenly awaiting a notebook to arrive that had a rather more complete selection of Santa Rosa features.

For those new to Intel's Santa Rosa platform its certainly worth taking a look at Riyad's detailed look at the new platform, which is essentially an update to the mobile Centrino platform that's been in place for a number of years now. For the lazy, however, let me surmise.

Santa Rosa combines a number of new developments under one platform. Evolution is the name of the game, with the Core 2 Duo CPUs being updated with an 800MHz Front Side Bus, and new features to boost both performance and battery life. There's also support for Draft N 802.11n wireless, adding a theoretical wireless transfer rate of 300Mbps, this particular development being vital for effective high-definition content streaming.

Finally there's Turbo Memory, also known as Robson, which is Intel's complement to the ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive features of Microsoft's Vista OS. This uses NAND Flash to improve system responsiveness by moving essential system files off the hard-drive to the flash memory, which boasts faster access times. In the case of ReadyDrive it also enables faster boot-up times, though this can only be achieved with internal – known as 'persistent' – memory, which cannot be removed.

Centrino branding is split into two, with Centrino Duo featuring all the technology listed above and Centrino Pro adding Intel's vPro IT management platform. There's more info on vPro in the Santa Rosa feature, and also in Ed's review of the HP Compaq DC7700p.

The Evesham Zieo N500-HD conforms to the Centrino Duo certification, and pleasingly is the first notebook we've seen to feature a Turbo Memory module – in this case a 1GB one. As a result there's been a fair amount of extra testing to do, since we've tested this system with Turbo Memory enabled and disabled to get an idea of how/if it performs. Later on I'll also be taking a look at whether it improves system boot-up speed, one of the mooted improvements it should provide.

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