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For performance testing the S970 was put through out usual set of notebook tests, including PC Mark 05, our own in-house Photoshop Elements and Virtual Dub test and a subjective battery test. Overall the S970 performed quite capably, comparing well enough to the more expensive Dell D630 and Acer's TravelMate 6292.
PC Mark results were equitable throughout, despite the fact that our sample had only 1GB of RAM. In our in-house tests results were more mixed. In Photoshop Elements the S970 was quicker by 20 seconds or so, but this result was reversed in the Virtual Dub test where it was around the same amount of time slower. In any case you'd be hard pressed to tell a difference in real world usage.
For battery testing the S970 was used for basic word processing and web browsing tasks; using the Balanced performance profile with Wi-Fi enabled and the display brightness set to full. With a standard six-cell battery the S970 managed a creditable three hours, and this without making much use of the Power Saving profile, disabling inactive devices and reducing display brightness.
Moreover, NEC does provide options for both a nine-cell extended battery and a massive 12-cell one as well. Given the performance provided by the standard six-cell battery, these should extend battery life significantly.
Regrettably, however, this positive spin can do nothing to assuage the many issues regarding the design and overall quality of the S970. Its poor screen and cheap feeling plastics do little to inspire confidence, while everything about it smacks of outmoded design.
A solid performer it may be, but the NEC Versa S970 is notably behind the times and there are plenty of better options out there for the business user.