Impressive display is best viewed at a distance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 April, 2004, 12:00am

NEC Versa s1000


Price: $16,990

Pros: Big screen, video accelerated for intensive graphics applications

Cons: Display can be hard to view at close range

The most striking feature about NEC's new Versa S1000 is the LCD display: you will either love it or hate it.

It is impressive for NEC to pack in a 14.1-inch TFT display - a feature more common on more upscale models - into a medium-range notebook. The display has a maximum SXGA+ resolution of 1,400x1,050 pixels. This makes the display look bigger than it actually is because more information can be put on any given screen.

But there are trade-offs. NEC also says it has reduced the thickness of the glass panel from 0.7mm to 0.3mm, thereby reducing weight and size. The result is an LCD screen that, when viewed at arm's length, seems sharp in the middle but fuzzy at the top and bottom - reminiscent of early notebook screens which required the user to look at the screen from directly in front.

Granted, this improves when the display is viewed from further away but it is without a doubt an issue that NEC would have to address in future models.

Besides the screen, the S1000 packs a lot into a stylish black-and-silver case, including a Pentium 1.5 GHz mobile processor for lower power usage, 1MB second-level cache, high-speed DDR333 random access memory, as well as an ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 graphics card to handle graphics-intensive applications such as the editing of DVDs and digital camera images.

Wireless LAN, compact flash, Secure Digital card and Memory Stick slots, a DVD combo drive, and USB 2.0 and Firewire connectivity are also included. NEC claims a single battery charge can last up to 4.3 hours with standard usage. With the standard DVD combo drive removed, the notebook weighs as little as 2.1kg.