The NEC Versa S970 (£657 inc. VAT) is a new design and while it's not greatly different from previous Versa models, it has a number of features that make it a far more appealing business tool.
The design is an understated black and silver that is trim and compact. The build quality is impressive with plenty of protection on the base of the machine. When running for long periods it remained cool to the touch and we were surprised how quietly it ran.
The most obvious addition is the move to Intel's Centrino Pro technology, which allows IT managers to access the machine remotely using Intel's vPro technology. To support vPro, NEC has also introduced a number of security features of its own. So you'll find a fingerprint scanner built in between the mouse buttons, which is supported by a TPM chip on the motherboard. With a two-level BIOS password also in place, unauthorised users are unlikely to gain access to your data.
Another new addition is the ECO button, which drops the power consumption of the machine down and helps to preserve battery life. In practice, this drops the speed of the processor in half as well as changing the brightness of the screen and offers up to 20 per cent more battery life. The button also works when running on mains power, so can also help reduce your carbon footprint when sat at your desk.
When it came to performance, we were impressed with how powerful this machine was. Powered by the Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, this 2GHz chip offers plenty of speed and, with 1024MB of memory in support, we found the Windows Vista Business Edition loaded quickly and constantly ran smoothly.
Weighing in at 2.3kg, this is a reasonably light machine, largely due to the use of a 14.1-inch panel, which offers plenty of space for viewing documents side-by-side. The screen has a standard TFT finish, so isn't the brightest panel available, but we found it had an even tone. On the downside, white images were reproduced with a slightly grey tinge.
Connectivity is cutting-edge, with the inclusion of Gigabit Ethernet as well as 802.11n, which also incorporates MiMo (Multiple in Multiple out) technology. Bluetooth is also present and you'll find a 4-in-1 card reader positioned conveniently on the front of the casing.
The NEC Versa S970 is a good all-round laptop. We found it a powerful machine, especially for the price, but it is the inclusion of key security features that make this a valuable addition to the Versa range. It isn't intended for home users, but it's chosen market will find this a cost-effective business tool.