NEC Versa S9100 review

An understated but stylish laptop built with the mobile worker in mind

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Our Verdict

A fantastic ultraportable, boasting impressive battery life and a slim yet sturdy design

For

  • Great keyboard
  • 5hrs battery life
  • Lightweight but robust

Against

  • Basic performance
  • Short on features

NEC is best known for making rather sombre but efficient business machines and, on first appearances,the Versa S9100 (£1291 inc. VAT) follows the same design philosophy.

This rather understated ultraportable has a simple design that looks rather boxy and compact. It may lack the design flourishes we've come to expect from the Toshiba Portégé R500 or Sony VAIO TX Series, but we liked the look and feel of this laptop.

Lightweight and practical

Once you start to use it, you discover it's a highly usable and practical design. The chassis is made from plastic and while the body is 33mm thick, it feels incredibly compact and portable.

Weighing 1.3kg, it's light enough to carry around every day and not have it feel a burden. This is impressive when you consider there is a DVD rewriter fitted as standard.

The use of a 12.1-inch LED screen means the lid is thin, but NEC has added extra protection, so it will easily survive the occasional knock when being carried around.

Impressive keyboard

What really impressed us about this laptop was the keyboard. It sits squarely in the middle of the main body and spans almost edge to edge.

The keys are grouped closely together, but they are of a good size and we found it incredibly easy to type, even on the move. Large letters on the keys make it easier for non-touch typists to pick out the keys they need.

The only thing that lets down the design are the touchpad and mouse buttons, which feel a little basic for a machine that will be used for word processing.

Fantastic battery life

An ultraportable laptop often succeeds or fails on its battery life.

NEC has managed to fit a battery pack that lies flush with the main body and still manages to deliver 300 minutes of life from a single charge, which is impressive.

With five hours of battery life, this is a great machine to use for large portions of the day without having to worry about seeking out a power point.

Average power

With the extended battery being the focus of this laptop, it makes it easier to explain the rather average processing power.

The Intel 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo U7600 is a low-voltage chip that handles everyday tasks competently, but doesn't leave a lot of headroom for running multiple applications.

Features are kept to a minimum, but you'll find the standard array of ports. There is also a fingerprint scanner fitted above the keyboard.

The NEC Versa S9100 may not have the same pedigree as the Toshiba Portégé R500, but we were impressed nonetheless.

The screen is great for viewing documents and the keyboard a fantastic size for using on the move. With a realistic battery life this is a winning machine.