A few years ago it would have cost you at least £1000 for a laptop with the latest specification and features. At £799 (inc. VAT), Evesham's Voyager C530 highlights how technology prices have been driven down. The Evesham boasts an impressive features list, with Windows XP Media Centre Edition and the option of an integrated digital TV tuner (£60 inc. VAT).
Connectivity is comprehensive; a DVI port enables digital connections to a TV or data projector, and you'll also find an S-Video port for hooking up to your VCR. An S/PDIF socket enables digital audio connections, and you can back up your files with a dual-layer DVD rewriter.
802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi enables connections to wireless networks, although fixed connections are limited to 10/100 Base-T speeds and not Gigabit Ethernet.
The 15.4-inch screen features a Super- TFT coating, which results in bright and vibrant colours. With an average 1280 x 800 pixel (WXGA) resolution, there's enough room for several windows on screen simultaneously.
As expected of a multimedia machine, you'll find a dedicated graphics card supporting the display. With 512MB of dedicated memory, ATi's Mobility Radeon X1600 is a mainstream card that gives the C530 decent performance.
Game to play
You'll be able to play most games, and it even offers decent frame rates when playing multiplayer games online. The 3DMark 2003 score of 5812 points was impressive, but the dedicated graphics has an effect on battery life. Under test conditions, we managed just 138 minutes - well under the three-hour minimum we expect from a laptop.
Powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T5600 processor with 1024MB of memory, there was little lag when opening and running applications. The MobileMark 2005 score of 213 points was in keeping with laptops of a similar specification.
The keyboard proved comfortable to use, with well-spaced keys, and all the buttons firmly attached. The overall build quality of the machine was strong, with the chassis feeling sturdy to the touch. Tactile plastics are used throughout. The edges are curved, making it comfortable to hold and carry. The touchpad is responsive and, ergonomically, the C530 does everything right. Weighing 2.8kg, it's also a fairly portable machine.
Apart from the poor battery life, the Evesham stands out for being a good all-rounder. It's well built, has the latest components, and offers plenty of features for the money.