- Review Price: £793.00
It’s now been a couple of months since the launch of the new improved Centrino platform and with a wide range of manufacturers bringing out new products the price war is on. AJP has brought the Z71A out to compete and this is where we find out if it’s a worthy contender or not. A low price doesn’t automatically make a winner however; you need a well rounded feature set these days or you have little to compete with.
The Z71A is a consumer level model and as such doesn’t have all the high-end features of more expensive notebooks. With a Pentium M 730 1.6GHz processor at its core the Z71A is mid-range in terms of CPU power. Add to this the Intel 915GM chipset and Intel 2915A/B/G wireless network card and you’ve got a fully Centrino branded machine. This in itself is nothing out of the ordinary, but AJP has added an 80GB 5,400rpm hard drive and 512MB of PC3200 DDR memory to make this quite an appealing package.
The chassis is the same as that of the Evesham Voyager C510, although as you might already have noticed the hardware specifications are quite different. The Z71A is using integrated graphics courtesy of the 915GM chipset. This is far from cutting edge, but it is far better than the previous generation of integrated graphics from Intel. It shares up to 64MB of the system memory, which is worth keeping in mind if you intend to use memory intensive application on your laptop.
The Z71A has a 15.4in widescreen display with a 1,280 x 800 resolution. While the resolution is still quite limited horizontally this widescreen aspect ratio is a definite real improvement over standard 1,024 x 768 screens. The AJP also includes an 8x DVD+/-R writer that also writes to DVD+/-RW media at 4x.
If you’re looking for features the Z71A has a lot going for it. Starting on the right hand side of the chassis you will find a Type II PC Card slot and a memory card reader for MMC, SD and MS/MS Pro cards. Furthermore there is a four-pin FireWire connector, a microphone and headphone socket – with the headphone socket doubling up as optical S/PDIF output – and a single USB 2.0 port.
Around the back you’ll find the connectors for the 56k modem and the integrated 10/100Mbit Ethernet as well as four additional USB 2.0 ports, a D-SUB connector and S-Video output. There are no additional connectors to be found as the left hand side of the chassis is dominated by the optical drive. The front has a set of playback buttons for audio CDs that enable you to listen to music without having to start Windows.
Just above the keyboard is a set of quick access buttons for email and web browsing. There is also one that enables and disables the internal Wi-Fi antenna and another that disables the touchpad. The last one gives you access to the Power 4 Gear software which gives you quick access to a range of power profiles.
The keyboard is standard, and is pleasant to type on. However, I was bothered that the Ctrl key has been moved to create space for the Fn key that all laptops seem to have. After having seen quite a few laptops with odd shaped touch pads I was happy to see that the Z71A has stuck with a normal square one. It’s also quite large in size which makes it easier to use.
At 2.9KG and measuring 357 x 276 x 35 mm (W x D x H) this is not a small machine and you wouldn’t want to lug around on it for too long. It is however not quite as heavy as some of the consumer notebooks we have reviewed in the past.
The Z71A wasn’t playing ball with MobileMark 2002, so instead of running the full and more exhausting test I had to make do with the reader test. This is a very light load battery test compared to the full benchmark suite that MobileMark 2002 offers, so a battery life of 266 minutes isn’t as good as it sounds. However, if you only do light office work on the Z71A you should be able to get over four hours of battery life out of it.
An overall SYSMark 2002 score of 203 is about what I expected from this type of configuration. The integrated graphics had a definite impact on performance and you can clearly see this in both SYSMark and PCMark. This shouldn’t have too much of an impact on everyday tasks, but don’t expect the Z71A to be a performance monster.
Considering that AJP is only asking for £793 inc VAT (plus delivery) I think the Z71A is a pretty decent machine. You can of course get something better for about £150 more, but equally if you’re on a limited budget you can do far worse.
The AHP Z71A is the first sub £800 Sonoma notebook to arrive at TrustedReviews. It might not have all the latest features, but it’s not without merits. Considering its low price this should prove to be a good choice for anyone that needs a mobile workhorse.
Score in detail
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