Novatech is a relatively new company to the laptop market, but is one of the first to launch an Intel Centrino 2-based system.

The X50 (£1045 inc. VAT) is one of the most feature-packed laptops we've seen to date, and its Centrino 2 branding comprises the mid-range P9500 CPU, which runs at 2.53GHz. It's supported by the GM45 chipset and WiFi Link 5300 wireless LAN module.

Powerful laptop

Performance proved as powerful as we were hoping. With 4096MB of memory, Windows Vista Ultimate loads and runs with ease, and we found this machine was powerful enough to cope with even the most demanding tasks, setting one of the best scores we've seen to date in our MobileMark 2007 benchmark.

At 3.2kg, it's not the most portable of machines, but with a battery life, under test, of just over two hours, this machine will serve you better as a desktop replacement.

Flamboyant design

The design is rather large and flamboyant, with the black plastic featuring a metallic finish, giving it a highly consumer finish. We felt the hinges were rather slight for the 15.4-inch screen though, so you'll find some rocking to the screen as you type.

The screen is bright and our test sample had a pleasing, even tone to it. Graphics are an even better proposition, as they use nVidia's latest GeForce 9600M GT graphics card, which offers great performance for those looking to use this machine for games and high-end video editing.

The keyboard is small and compact for such a large machine. We found the keys to be rather cramped and awkward to use. The touchpad and mouse buttons are bigger, but still proved less than ideal.

Sideshow screen

It's not only the latest features you'll find, as Novatech has managed to include a SideShow screen on the lid. When Microsoft launched Windows Vista, Sideshow was pitched as the killer application for mobile travellers, as it allows you to check the status of your machine without having to switch it on.

It has a 3-inch screen and the menu buttons are simple to navigate. As a technology it hasn't yet reached the mass market, but Novatech's implementation is one of the best we've seen – it's simple, unobtrusive and works. Alongside Intel's faster 802.11n Wi-Fi chip, you'll find Gigabit Ethernet for when using in fixed network mode.

We had high expectations of the Novatech X500 and, in terms of performance, it didn't disappoint. The build quality of our test machine failed to live up to expectations, but production models should be better.

Our review unit was was a pre-production sample and the plastic felt rather basic. However, we've also seen a final production version which was much more satisfactory.