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Hi-Grade Ultinote A9900SR review

It's all about performance

As with most 17-inch laptops, mobility is poor

Our Verdict

The best performance we've seen, but makes for a poor media centre


  • Very powerful

    Well designed


  • Heavy, with limited battery life

    Lacking in extras

Providing the strongest performance we've seen from any laptop, the Hi-Grade Ultinote A9900SR (£999 inc. VAT) uses Intel's top-of-the-range dual-core processor technology to great effect.

Powered by Intel's Core 2 Duo T7800 CPU and 2048MB of memory, flawless performance is provided. For an extra speed boost, Hi-Grade even offers an upgrade to Intel's more powerful T7900 processor for an extra £200 (inc. VAT).

3D performance is less impressive, but adequate for most uses. Using a GPU from graphics specialist ATi, there's enough power for editing home movies and basic gaming, but don't expect to use it as a full home gaming and media centre.

The 160GB hard drive is ample for storing large quantities of music, photos and videos. Data can also be easily saved to external storage and shared with other devices via a built-in 4-in-1 media card reader and dual-layer DVD rewriter.

As with most 17-inch laptops, mobility is poor. Weighing 3.9kg you won't want to carry it far. However, its 116-minute battery life means you can work on short journeys if necessary. The model we reviewed was a pre-production unit, but proved strong and well built throughout.

Day-to-day usability is strong, thanks to a well-designed user interface. The keyboard is wide and responsive, although the typing action may be a little too firm for some users. Controlling onscreen actions is made easy by the use of a wide touchpad and large mouse buttons.

Three quick-launch buttons are provided for instant access to internet, email and Wi-Fi, but there are no such keys for browsing songs and videos. However, with Windows Vista Home Premium installed, Media Centre software is included for easy access to all your media files.

The 17-inch screen is a mixed bag for multimedia use. While its glossy coating delivers bright and colourful images, the resolution is too low for accurate high-definition (HD) playback. This won't hinder most users, but is worth considering if you have a collection of HD content.

Lacking features

Similarly, its lack of extra features may leave some consumers feeling short-changed. There is no integrated camera, and also no remote control, mouse or headphones included, limiting media use.

The Hi-Grade Ultinote A9900SR proves to be an excellent home laptop for power-hungry workers, but misses the mark for serious multimedia use. However, for high-performance home and office computing on a large screen, there's still plenty to recommend.