Evesham Voyager C720
Having had a quick look at the GeForce Go 7800 technology, let's think about what else is in this specific machine. We mentioned the chassis already - it's remarkably thin for a 17" notebook (although still not as thin as the 17" Apple PowerBook). What about the optionals?
- You can spec the machine up with either a 2.13GHz Pentium M or a 2.0GHz one.
- It comes with 80GB 5400RPM storage as default, but you can upgrade to a 100GB 7200RPM drive if you have the extra wonga.
- A second battery can be added into the multibay on the chassis. No extra size added, but some extra weight.
- Here's the best one: the standard 17" screen is 1440x900. However, you can upgrade to 1920x1200 with a 1.3Mpixel video camera in the lid - as we'll see, the 7800 GTX is more than capable of powering this display at native resolution.
The other bits and bobs that come on the laptop include a card reader for SD and Memory stick, four USB2, Firewire, digital SPDIF audio and TV out.
However, undoubtedly the coolest thing about the ports is the fact it has a DVI out. Despite the fact that so many TFTs are DVI now, almost all notebooks still come with VGA, which is rather lame. Evesham have recognised that the hardcore gamers running this notebook are probably going to want to hook it up to a big screen to game at their desk, and have provided this functionality. The DVI output means that you can get a great dual-display rig going - making this a real desktop alternative for those of us who can't live without two screens.
Here's a tour around the chassis.
Although we didn't have enough time with the laptop to do any fully conclusive testing of the overall machine, I can give you my impressions of how it was to use.
In terms of usability, it's interesting. Some people love 17" notebooks - they really are just mini versions of your desktop rig. They're probably not the sort of thing you'll want to whip out on the plane (well, unless you fly business, we suppose) - but they are great for just sticking in a bag and heading out to a mates house or a LAN party.
The actual chassis is a little dull for our liking. The silver and grey is utterly inoffensive, but we don't believe it befits a laptop of this power. Frankly, we want something a little racier, a little more edgy and stylish, something that screams 'I rock!' This is an incredibly powerful laptop, but it doesn't really look it.
We were incredibly impressed with NVIDIA's latest revision of the PowerMizer technology. Despite the high-powered components packed in, we were able to play a DVD on the 17" screen for just under an hour and half. This isn't quite long enough for a feature film, but is easily long enough for a DVD's worth of Invader Zim, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, or whatever other obscure (or mainstream, whatever) stuff you've happened to grab on disc (or BitTorrent, for that matter). In my experience of 17" notebooks, this is an astounding figure.
The keyboard is pretty standard, although fans of number pads will be glad to see that there's a full complement of buttons on the right hand side. Beneath the keyboard is this slightly weird multimedia bar. It has a clock, as well as keys for controlling media playback. Theoretically, this allows you to listen to and control music without having to have the display on, saving batterly life. But who's going to whip out this beast just to listen to music? More interesting would be if we could get some Linux drivers for it and use it for an open source home theatre PC. Most dedicated home theatre OS' are rather more efficient than Windows, and there's every possibility that even better DVD playback time could be squeezed out of the hardware.
NVIDIA are also now providing for individual laptop manufacturers to allow for the downloading of generic ForceWare drivers from the NVIDIA homepage. This is being done on a manufacturer-by-manufacturer basis, and should mean that features like chassis-specific hotkeys are maintained, rather than being killed by generic ForceWare updates. This follows ATI, who announced the same thing a few months ago with their notebook partners.
In general usage, we found that the hard drive was definitely the bottleneck in the system. Upgrading to the 7200RPM hard drive is something we'd definitely advise.
I personally found the 1440x900 resolution of this version of the laptop perfectly acceptable - after using Mac laptops, I'm not used to teeny text. However, I know plenty of other games who wouldn't touch anything less than 1920x1200 on a 17" laptop - if that's you, the extra cash for the uprated screen will be worth it.