NEC VERSA P7500-2101DR

NEC VERSA P7500-2101DR

Plenty big, but skimpy on the ports

It's big, powerful and affordable, but NEC's VERSA P7500 has poor battery life and only basic connections. It can be added to your shortlist if you want a second, relatively powerful computer for the home, but you should overlook it if you want something portable or something to use away from an outlet for prolonged periods of time.

It's a 15.4in laptop with a 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 CPU and 2GB of DDR2 RAM, so it's capable of handling everyday tasks with ease, as well as photo editing and even some video editing. As a reference, it scored 77 in our WorldBench 6 tests, which is a little slower than we were expecting (see the HP Compaq Presario V3832TU (FE061PA) , for example), but it was faster than the NEC Versa P7300 (2100DR). You'll have no problems running office software, and even Adobe Photoshop will run smoothly. During everyday use the laptop felt responsive, and it booted up in about 40sec.

You won't get much out of its integrated graphics card, which is based on Intel's 965G Express chipset; however, titles from a few years ago should run just fine. The screen's 1280x800 resolution isn't huge for its 15.4in size, but it makes icons and text very easy to view. It's also a very comfortable laptop to use: it has a vast palm rest area and mostly full-sized keys that provide adequate travel. We wish that the DEL key was in the top-right hand corner of the keyboard, where we are used to having it, rather than next to the arrow keys.

After several hours of use, the laptop didn't get noticeably hot, and its glossy screen wasn't hard to view in a well-lit room. But don't think you'll be able to enjoy a movie while sitting out in the backyard, as you won't get over 68min running time from its 3700mAh battery. This is very low compared to most 15in models we've seen, even considering the relatively low price point of the unit.

For connectivity, the laptop contains only the bare essentials: you get two USB 2.0 ports, D-Sub, S-Video, networking and modem ports, as well as a memory card reader. We would have liked at least one more USB 2.0 port and a FireWire port. Of course, you can add more ports by attaching a USB hub, and the laptop's ExpressCard/54 slot will facilitate expansion cards.

One thing we do like about the P7500 is its 'power-off USB charging' feature, which can charge USB devices even when the unit is powered off. It will only work while the P7500 is plugged into an outlet, so you can't charge a USB device while you're on the go, but it's handy for when you want to charge a device overnight. Only one of the USB ports supports this feature.

Elsewhere, the unit has a webcam and a built-in microphone, a DVD burner and a 250GB, 5400rpm hard drive, so it has ample space for storing data, and it doesn't weigh too much for a 15.4in laptop — it's 2.7kg without its power supply. We won't talk about its looks — take a look at the photos above and make up your own mind regarding its white lid and silver-grey interior.

With its built-in webcam and microphone, NEC says the 7500 is perfect for Skype use, but we reckon you'll still want to plug in an external microphone because the built-in microphone won't do a good job unless you speak louder than you normally do.

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