Zoostorm 4-6610 review

  • £750

It has power, but that doesn't make it exciting

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Our Verdict

A solid all-rounder at a good price, but does very little to set the pulse racing

For

  • Excellent value for money

Against

  • Display not particularly good

We find it amazing what £750 gets you these days. More to the point, it's amazing how quickly the Core 2 has reached an approachable price point? Take this machine, for example - if you performed a cost/benefit analysis after glancing at the specifications, you would probably jump at the chance to own it. Ninja processor, reasonable graphics card, all at that magical price point. Things couldn't be better, could they?

Well, aesthetically, you're probably not going to be over-excited. The key visual hook, considering that the case is as generic as they come, is the row of strikingly pretty LEDs, cleverly placed on the left edge of the wrist rest so they're covered while you're typing.

A clever touch, but overall this does have the air of its price tag. There's a fine line between gaudy and classy, and Zoostorm's 4-6610 straddles it skilfully with a silversprayed air of utter blandness. At least there's a large enough heatpipe outlet to keep the insides relatively cool; we've certainly had our hands - and baked our legs - on warmer Core 2 machines before.

The panel is, again, about as standard as they come. There's nothing outrageously bad about it, but the slight lack of definition, mildly washed out colours and the limited angle at which the screen is fully lit are reasons enough to balk at the idea.

Its hinge is also rather weak - stiff enough to stay open, but bouncy if you've got the machine on your lap, which is especially irritating given the 10-degree window at which the vertical viewing angle is perfect. That's not to say it's imperfect if you're at a different angle, just that the experience of using a screen that shifts violently in contrast and brightness as you move your head is somewhat disconcerting at times.

Strong mobility

At 2.7kg, the 4-6610 isn't much of a shoulder buster. In fact, we think mobility is where its strength really lies - it's compact enough for most bags, light enough to carry reasonable distances, and while the battery life is fairly typical fare, there's just enough power inside that you'll be happy to locate yourself near a wall socket.

But we can't really recommend this in terms of its talents as a portable games machine. The graphics card is perfectly reasonable, but it's not cutting-edge, and neither would we expect it to be for the price.

This is the problem with laptops that can play games - their social use, especially - and why the evershrinking desktop market still has a chance in the face of such a rise in portables. You can run games all you like, and maybe you'll get something running at a decent frame rate on this card. It's certainly conceivable.

But then Johnny McLikely wanders up having spent twice as much as you, shows off his crisp black screen and shader model 2.0 goodness and puts you to shame. You can't keep up with Johnny, because you're utterly unable to upgrade that machine you've invested in.

But never fear. The key is that both of you are going to look rather stupid toting outdated technology in a couple of years, while desktop owners will have steadily invested a stream of cash into a procession of graphics cards of cascading importance.

Compare this to machines from, say, two years ago and you get a very real sense that - despite it not being particularly exciting - the 4-6610 is a bargain right now.

Many of us own laptops of a similar age, and they all run hot, have noisy fans, and begrudgingly chug through the kind of applications that the Zoostorm 4-6610 eats for breakfast. Two years is a long time; and by the end of it, you may well be glad you spent only £750 on this laptop.

Honestly, though, the market at this price point is wide open. You'll suffer a modicum of spec reduction no matter what you go for. This model teeters on the mid-range boundary, but you could find yourself something with a faster processor and less video performance if that's your key criteria.

There are better screens available, but there's nothing wrong with this one. There are cooler processors around too, but you shouldn't sniff at having a Core 2 under the hood. When it comes down to it, if you're shopping at a particular price point, anything with a modern chip should satisfy your needs, and this machine is no exception. Alex Cox