We've seen a range of laptops from Novatech, from regular devices right up to high-end gaming machines, but the V14 4100 is the first CULV system.

With a 14-inch screen, it's not the smallest laptop we've seen, but it is thin and light – at just 1.6kg – making it highly portable.

The glossy Super-TFT screen is excellent. It's reflective in the brightest conditions, but vivid colours and pin-sharp image quality more than make up for this, and it's ideal for working with photographs.

With an integrated Intel graphics card in place, light multimedia tasks are the most you'll be able to do with this machine – gaming is definitely off the cards – but there's enough power for regular office work or watching videos on the move.

Large keyboard

The keyboard is large and easy to type on, although the board flexes slightly in the centre. Not all of the keys on our review sample proved responsive, requiring a fairly hard typing action to get the best out of it. As such, it's worth trying this laptop before you buy, as it's keyboard may not suit your style of typing.

The touchpad is large and accurate, although the integrated mouse buttons have a slightly spongy feel during use.

Design-wise, it's an attractive and simple machine, with light silver plastics that contrast well with the glossy-black screen surround. The thin chassis is surprisingly tough, with no movement under pressure, and the display is also held firmly in place when typing. The low weight does lead to a slightly insubstantial feel, however.

Processing power comes from a 1.3GHz ultra-low voltage Pentium chip, backed by 2048MB of fast DDR3 memory. The result is a machine that only suffers from lag when running a host of intensive applications, with single applications running smoothly.

Although some of the CULV machines we've seen have offered up to nine hours of battery life, the 234 minutes on offer here is a disappointment. That said, it's still more than enough for the daily commute.

As with most of the other CULV laptops we've seen, there's no integrated optical drive. Peripherals can be connected via the three USB ports, ExpressCard slot or wirelessly via Bluetooth.

802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet are both in place for the fastest networking currently possible. There's also a 4-in-1 memory card reader, making it easy to transfer files between this and other digital devices.

The Novatech V14 4100 has a lot to offer for the money. Costing the same as a high-end netbook, its portability is only marginally less, yet the reasonable performance, large interface and excellent screen make it a lot more practical for frequent daily use.

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