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So when it comes to looks, the X50MV is not ugly but at the same time nothing to shout about. Build quality is similarly decent but uninspiring. Overall there's a little more flex than we'd ideally like to see and, being brutally honest, from some angles it does look and feel a little cheap.
Of course, at just over £1,000 Novatech's effort is pretty good value for the money for the spec, so this is not exactly unexpected. And there are some nice touches on hand too, such as the screen which appears to transition seamlessly into a piano-black bezel, thanks to a thin plastic screen-cover much like the ones used on HP's Pavilion range - see: HP Pavilion dv7-101ea.
Another unexpectedly neat touch is Novatech's driver CD. In fact it's one of the most user-friendly ones I've ever come across; when you insert it, it simply shows a panel of icons representing various components. When you click on one of these it installs the relevant driver, simple as can be. This is very neat, though some contextual text to explain what each icon stands for might be useful to save confusion among the less computer literate.
The X50MV doesn't skimp too badly when it comes to connectivity either, with the only notable and admittedly quite regrettable absentee being e-SATA. At least everything is easily accessible along the laptop's sides and ports are logically grouped together, meaning you'll find modem and Ethernet jacks next to each other rather than at opposite ends of the machine.
On the left, then, there is a lock slot, VGA and HDMI, the aforementioned modem and Ethernet ports, followed by a single USB 2.0 and mini-FireWire port. Next to this, stacked neatly above each other, are a 5-in-1 memory card reader (supporting all variants of SD, MMC, xD and MS) and 34mm ExpressCard slot rather than the more usual 54mm one.
Along the right are 3.5mm audio jacks for headphone and microphone, a further three USB ports, the power jack and of course a DVD-writer (which can be upgraded to a Blu-ray drive for £176). The front houses an IR port which accommodates the included remote, or indeed any of the Windows Media remotes widely available.
This model is silver, which aesthetically doesn't match the laptop at all and is hardly the picture of elegance. Also, though it's a larger remote which doesn't slot into the machine, it still uses one of those difficult to get cell batteries that can't be replaced with a rechargeable one. At least the buttons are large, colour coded, fairly comfortable and logically laid out. And a good thing too, since this remote will likely see a fair bit of use, considering the Novatech X50MV Pro Gaming Notebook has a DVB-T TV tuner built in. Consequently, the only connection at the machine's back is a miniscule antenna jack, which fits the small plastic antenna included.
Getting on with usability, the keyboard is actually quite good. Its matte keys feel nice and are just the right size. Response is also good, with plenty of travel and that all-important click when depressed. Unfortunately, the old bugbear of the Function key being on the outside of Ctrl raises its head again, and after coming across it only recently with the Medion Akoya S5610, I'm starting to fear it will never die.