By ,
The R5400 is a high quality notebook from Hi-Grade, and although a newcomer to the Australian scene, the company is huge in the UK market.

Weve tested quite a few P4 notebooks in recent months, and one major problem weve noticed is their sheer weight. Carrying a 4kg object around for extended periods of time especially something large and clumsy like a notebook can become very uncomfortable and even painful. To its credit, the Notino is significantly lighter than many of the other P4-Ms notebooks weve looked at. At a mere 2.7kg (sans powerpack) it is an entire kilo lighter than the 2.0GHz Dell Inspiron that we reviewed in September.

Overall system performance was impressive, and the 2.0GHz CPU makes this notebook particularly strong in multimedia creation. It fell just behind the 2.0GHz Dell in SYSmark2002, although the Dell did have significantly more RAM and a much faster graphics chip.

The R5400s only real weakness is its graphics chip: its coupled with an S3 Graphics ProSavageDDR, which shares 32MB of system RAM. With a score of just 885 in 3DMark, the ProSavage is nowhere near as powerful as either NVIDIAs GeForce4 440 Go or ATIs Mobility RADEON 9000 (the two most commonly used GPUs with the P4-M), which typically score over 5,000 points in the same test.

This particular Notino features a ruggedised case constructed out of magnesium alloy, and it looks and feels noticeably harder than the plain plastic casing used by most notebooks. It also features a spill-resistant keyboard underlay. While its probably not quite as tough as any of Panasonics Toughbooks, it certainly is a damn sight cheaper, and still tough.

The R5400 also touts that it has been Drop Test Approved. This means that the notebook was tested to military specifications: it was dropped from a height of 2.5ft onto plywood, and required to survive three such drops to pass the test. This may not seem like a lot, but the R5400 managed to survive 22 such drops. With this in mind, we decided to conduct our own series of tests. This involved dropping the notebook from a height of 1.5ft onto a wooden surface. We performed three such tests, each time on a different side of the notebook. Although the DVD drive popped out twice it was not damaged in the slightest; the notebook had no issues booting and continued to operate without any problems. All Hi-Grade notebooks come with two-years accidental insurance cover, as standard. No other notebook manufacturer can boast this feature. Along with an excellent keyboard and touchpad, the screen quality on this notebook was also first-rate, with bright colours and a good brightness/contrast balance.

Its also fitted with a full range of ports and outputs. These include both Firewire and USB 2.0, a modem and Ethernet,VGA-out along with microphone and headphone jacks. It also features an S-Video output so you can hook the R5400 up to a TV and have it act as a DVD movie player.

Taken as a whole, this is one very capable notebook, and its toughness is admirable. The only area that letting it down is its 3D capabilities, and as such is not really suitable as a gaming-ready desktop replacement. It could also have benefited from having built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, but it has a free mini-PCI slot so you can always add it at a later date. If you dont mind the average 3D performance, this is a stellar laptop.

Dan Gardiner

A great option if you need a speedy and reliable rugged business notebook.
• Price: $3850 • CPU model/brand: Pentium 4-M • CPU speed: 2.0GHz • Memory capacity: 384MB PC2100 DDR SDRAM • Hard drive capacity: 40GB ATA100 HDD • Optical drive type: CD-RW/DVD combo drive • Graphics type: S3 ProSavageDDR graphics chip • Sound card: VIA AC'97 audio • Ethernet: 10/100 Ethernet port; • Wi-Fi: No • USB ports: 2.0 • Firewire: Yes • Output ports: VGA out, S-Video out • Operating system: WIndows XP Home • Bundled software: McAfee VirusScan • Accessories: magnesium alloy case; spill-proof keyboard; • Other: 56K modem • Warranty: two years international warranty (collect and return) including accidental damage
This review appeared in the December, 2002 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine

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