Zepto Znote 6625WD review

12 Nov 2007

The solid-state disk adds significantly to the cost, so most should choose the cheaper hard disk alternative.

Price when reviewed: 
1,145(£1,345 inc VAT)
3

Zepto may be best known for budget systems, such as the £499 Znote 3214W (web ID: 128744), but that doesn't mean it steers clear of innovation. The Znote 6625WD, for instance, has an unusually high screen resolution and a solid-state disk (SSD).

The SSD is the 32GB MSD-SATA6025 from Mitron. Mitron claims an average access time of 0.1ms and sustained read/write speeds of 100MB/sec and 80MB/sec respectively. Mean time between failure is allegedly a million hours, and the drive itself claims a write endurance of 140 years at 50GB per day - which is higher than claims for other solid-state devices, such as CompactFlash cards.

In our tests, though, we saw little benefit. In particular, its battery life results were poor. While the 2.5in disk averages just 1W power consumption, a mechanical disk uses 2W, which is still a small amount when compared to the whole notebook's power demands. The Znote lasted only 49 minutes in our intensive-use test, and 1hr 58mins in our light-use benchmark, neither of which sets a new precedent for longevity. A second 12-cell battery is available from Zepto for £59 (£69 inc VAT). The final drawback to the Znote's portability is its weight: 2.9kg without its power adapter puts it at the upper limit of everyday luggability.

The SSD didn't add noticeably to performance, either, but this machine is no slouch: a final benchmark score of 1.07 from the 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo T7500 and 2GB of RAM is impressive, and one that makes the Zepto more than capable of running high-end apps.

Another big drawback of SSD is capacity. You can just about survive with a 32GB disk when running Windows Vista Home Premium, as there's still room for a comparatively healthy array of apps: our benchmarks fit, for instance, and they comprise a full install of Microsoft Office 2003, Adobe Photoshop CS2, Canopus ProCoder and 3ds Max. We also managed to include our Call of Duty 2 benchmark. But there's precious little space left for music libraries or video.

And then there's the price. The Znote with its SSD costs £1,145. With a 160GB mechanical disk - and five times the storage space - the Znote's price drops to just £946, a saving of nearly £200.

It's a shame, since the rest of the machine is good. The 15.4in screen has a high resolution of 1,680 x 1,050, which is approaching that necessary for workstation applications. It's certainly enough to make working with images in Photoshop pleasant, and there's lots of desktop space for multiple applications. The only disappointment to those working in an office environment is the gloss finish to the screen - colours look a little more punchy, but you'll be distracted by background movement reflecting from the screen.

There's even some gaming potential: the Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT managed an average frame rate of 20fps in Call of Duty 2 at its lowest settings, and there are plenty of older titles that will run smoothly.

The design is clean, but not what most would call stylish. The dull grey keypad stands out against the black chassis, but doesn't match the silver highlight around the base. The trackpad can also be irritating - the difference in height between it and the surrounding wristrest is minimal, which means it's all too easy to brush it with your arm, sending the pointer skittering across the desktop.

The inclusion of an SSD is interesting, and it's noteworthy that this is the cheapest SSD laptop we've seen yet. However, if the benefits of SSD are a priority, consider Dell's Latitude D430 (web ID: 125296). This offers the same capacity for just £54 more, but weighs half as much and offers better battery life, besides having integrated HSDPA.