Looking at the specification in a bit more detail, an AMD Turion64 X2 TL-56 1.8GHz CPU sits at the heart of the chassis where it’s joined by a 1GB stick of DDR2 RAM running at 667MHz. These are both nestled in a motherboard based on ATI’s RS690 chipset, that incorporates the Radeon Xpress 1270 graphics module. And, handling storage duties is a 160GB 5,400rpm hard drive.
This configuration will undoubtedly set alarm bells ringing for some people as it’s well known that AMD’s current crop of mobile CPUs simply can’t compete with Intel’s, both in terms of performance and power consumption. However, if you are a casual PC user that just browses the web and writes a few emails, the Turion will provide more than enough performance. However, if you would prefer an Intel option, the PR200, comes with a Core 2 Duo processor, and can be had for around £100 more. Also, if you’re a heavier PC user you will almost definitely want to specify an extra gig of RAM, whichever platform you side with.
Other features include a multi-format dual-layer DVD-Rewriter drive, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, a fingerprint reader, and a TV tuner. Our particular model didn’t come with the tuner module, even though it had an aerial socket, as it’s an optional extra. So you need to be doubly careful to check if it is included when you buy one of these.
Network connectivity is provided by 802.11 a/b/g WiFi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth, and a software modem. So, all the usual bases are covered but notable by its absence is Draft-N wireless which although not yet ubiquitous is becoming a more common feature.
Going back to the chassis, given the battery takes up the entire of the back edge, it’s good to see the PR210 is not at all lacking in connectivity, indeed it’s quite brimming. On the right edge, along with the power connection, are an HDMI port, two USB ports, a Modem, an SD/MMC/MS/MSPro card reader, and an ExpressCard slot. And, even though the left edge is dominated by the optical drive, it does manage to pack in another USB port, the Ethernet port, a VGA-out socket, and a locking point.
Upon first glance the keyboard was a bit of a disappointment as it’s layout is far from perfect, but once I started using it most of my reservations disappeared. The key problems that I noted included the left Ctrl key being displaced by the Fn key – extremely aggravating for those of us used to using keyboard shortcuts – and the squashing up of various keys towards the right. Though, the cursors, and other periphery keys aren’t used as often as the main letters, it is still annoying enough to be detrimental. All in all though, the keyboard feels good to type on with a positive response from each and every key, in fact the general feel reminds me somewhat of the legendary ThinkPad keyboards (ThinkPad keyboards are still in a league of their own – ed.).