Wired2Fire certainly hasn’t skimped on the connectivity or features. On the left you’ll find a CATV antenna jack to go with the optional TV tuner, a Gigabit Ethernet port, twin USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0 connector, mini FireWire (!) and an SDXC card reader.
The front houses an IR receiver – handy for Windows remotes – while the right offers a tray-loading optical drive (a DVD writer or Blu-ray reader/writer, depending on your choice), no fewer than four 3.5mm audio jacks for analogue or digital 7.1 surround sound, and a second USB 2.0 port.
Finally at the laptop’s rear you’ll find a much appreciated eSATA connector, plus HDMI and DVI video outputs. All this makes the Vector Elite the best-connected laptop we’ve seen this year, though few potential owners will still use FireWire and the eSATA market is diminishing since USB 3.0 came out.
On the wireless side of things, we have the usual suspects of Wi-Fi N and Bluetooth 3.0, while a 2megapixel HD webcam and fingerprint reader (for those who loathe remembering passwords) round out the feature list.
As is inevitable these days, the Vector Elite’s keyboard is chiclet/isolation. Though keys are very well spaced, the 41cm across afforded by the 17in body isn’t fully utilized, as the number pad is crammed into the rest of the keyboard. On the other hand, this is actually a preferable arrangement for those rare gamers who still use the cursor keys or two-player gaming on the same keyboard.
Key feedback is relatively crisp with a decent amount of travel, but there’s a distracting rattle when hitting keys with any force. For typing and gaming the Elite’s keyboard is adequate, but it doesn’t hold a candle to better efforts like the Alienware M14x. We would also love to see some macro-programmable gaming keys again, something the Rock Xtreme managed in 2009.
As with most of these gaming behemoths, the touchpad seems incredibly small, but in fact it’s the same four inches or so diagonally that you’ll find on most laptops. It’s responsive and its textured buttons offer a nice, firm click.
Our only complaints are that its faux brushed metal surface can feel a little wearing to the finger after a while, and that the fingerprint scanner nestled between the buttons may make you miss right-clicks. Then again, on a gaming desktop replacement you’re more than likely to be using a mouse of some description – we would recommend the SteelSeries Sensei or Logitech G9(x).