What is it: a budget multimedia notebook
Applications: presentations on the move or away from the office. This is an all-in-one notebook for the user who can't bear to leave anything behind
Notebooks usually fall into two distinct classes: the ultra-slim, light, stripped-down sub-notebooks, and the thicker, multimedia equipped all-in-ones. A short while ago, all notebooks looked like these and weighed as much, too. But now they have built-in CD-ROM drives, stereo sound, large screens and, in some cases, the equivalent of the kitchen sink, as standard.
Digital has recently been praised for its Hinote Ultra line. The range is so slim and light that, apart from being extremely easy to carry around, they look very smart. Digital's latest Hinote range, the value-line VP 500, falls into the larger all-in-one category. Although they don't slip unnoticed into a small bag, plenty of features are included in the price.
There are four models in the line: the VP 510 features a 100MHz Pentium and 11.3in dual-scan DSTN screen; the VP 520 has the same display but speeds of up to 120MHz; the VP 525, reviewed here, also uses a 120MHz Pentium and has a much better 11.3in active TFT screen; and the top-of-the-range VP 535 boasts a 133MHz Pentium and a 12.1in TFT display. All displays are 800x600 pixels in 16-bit colour.
All models come with 8Mb of EDO RAM as standard, which Windows 95 users should consider expanding to 16Mb as soon as possible. The review model has been upgraded to 24Mb, which runs the pre-installed Windows 95 effortlessly; Windows 3.11 is also available.
All but the cheapest VP 510 come with IRDA-compliant infra-red port and swappable six-speed CD-ROM and floppy drives; the 510 is supplied with a floppy drive only and no infra-red, but the CD-ROM drive is an optional extra. An enhanced NiMH battery, which should last for about two to four hours, is supplied as standard. All have a 1.08Gb hard drive, apart from the VP 535 which has 1.44Gb.
Despite being promoted as a budget value line, the VP 500 range features 16-bit audio, speakers and 128-bit graphics accelerators with MPEG support.
Either two Type-II or one Type-III PC-Card slots are available. There are two docking stations with superior built-in speakers, the usual array of standard ports, apart from SCSI, and one boasting BNC and RJ-45 Ethernet network interfaces.
All models measure 300x226x48mm and weigh 3.2kg, which is just light enough to carry around. This type of notebook is ideal for anyone who gives multimedia presentations or who wants to ensure they have absolutely everything they need without extra boxes or cables.
In use, the VP 525 with 24Mb of RAM is quick under Windows 95, and the keyboard and touch-pad pointer are remarkably good. To round it all off, the display is clear and easily viewable at wide angles.
Verdict: Digital's Hinote VP 500 range offers great value for money without compromising on performance, capabilities or expansion. The VP 525 is ideal for a travelling presenter or for users who need a multimedia all-in-one.
Contact: Digital on 0345 227228 or www.windows.dig-ital.com
Price: from u1,599 to 2,669; VP 525 with 24Mb is u2,669.
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