Apricot Picobook Pro review

13 Feb 2009

The worst-built netbook of them all. Avoid at all costs.

Price when reviewed: 
292(£299 inc VAT)
2

Without a shadow of a doubt, the best aspect of the Picobook is its marketing. Built on abrand that many people still remember fondly from the 1980s, and backed up with a plush, confident-sounding website, you could be forgiven for parting with your cash right there and then.

Unfortunately, the hardware itself is poor. The Picobook received the worst marks from our judges in four out of the five categories: build quality, speaker quality, keyboard and cursor quality, and screen quality.

The lack of build quality is obvious as soon as you pick it up. It not only looks plasticky but feels plasticky, with the whole chassis creaking if you grab it by a corner. The keyboard is similarly disappointing - Apricot's website may claim that its keys are 30% larger than some of its rivals, but when we laid out all 16 netbooks side by side we found it the most difficult to type on.

It's also slow. The VIA C7-M processor inside is no match for Intel's Atom, and that showed in our benchmarks under Windows XP: it scored 0.23, 50% slower than most Atom-powered netbooks.

We wish there was something else to lift the Picobook from rock-bottom position, but with abog-standard 8.9in screen, poor battery life and a 60GB hard disk, all that's left to justify its surprisingly high price is an ExpressCard/34 slot and support for 802.11a.

Apricot initially intended to sell a Linux version of the Picobook, but soon withdrew it from its website. We can't see any reason for someone to buy this Windows version, either.

Details

Price ex VAT £254
Price inc VAT £292
Overall rating 2
Features & Design 1
Value for Money 1
Performance N/A

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 228 x 172 x 24mm (WDH)
Weight 1.040kg

Processor and memory

Processor VIA C7-M
RAM capacity 1.00GB
Memory type DDR2
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 1

Screen and video

Screen size 8.9in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,024
Resolution screen vertical 600
Resolution 1024 x 600
Graphics chipset VIA Chrome 9 HC3
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 60GB
Hard disk usable capacity 55GB
Optical disc technology None
Optical drive None
Battery capacity 2,200mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support no
Integrated 3G adapter no

Other Features

ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 2
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
SD card reader no
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 2hr 28min
3D performance (crysis) low settings Fail
3D performance setting Fail

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows XP Home
OS family Windows XP
Software supplied None