Everex StepNote XT5000T Review

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$849

Pros: Low price; Bright screen; Decent graphics

Cons: Low-res screen; Truncated keyboard layout; Mediocre performance

Verdict: This Everex isn't a powerhouse, but it offers a big screen on a budget.

The Everex StepNote XT5000T is designed for budget-conscious buyers who want a big screen and not much more. You don't get top-shelf components or a lot of multimedia extras, but considering it costs $899 in a sea of $2,000-and-up fish, some might be eager to overlook its faults.

The black-on-black lid (with a chrome accent strip) gives this machine a rather generic look, and the one-third silver/two-thirds black keyboard deck is not the pinnacle of ergonomics. In fact, the keyboard layout is unacceptable for a machine this size. While the letter keys are full-sized and comfortable, some ancillary keys-including oft-used Enter, Shift, and the period key-are shrunken to accommodate a dedicated number pad (that you'll probably never use). Also, the plastic chrome mouse buttons felt cheap and were very loud.

Another cost-saver comes in the LCD panel: The 17-inch widescreen is bright enough, but the resolution (1440 x 900 pixels) is low for this class. Still, text in applications was crisp and legible, and DVD playback looked fine. Since there is no high-def optical drive option (a dual-layer multi-format DVD burner is standard), you probably won't miss the HD screen. On the plus side, the deck-mounted speakers delivered decent sound quality, and you get a 100GB hard drive.

The XT5000T's selection of ports is fairly basic; a 4-in-1 memory card reader, three USB ports, FireWire, an ExpressCard slot, and S-video and DVI-I connectors for outputting the video signal to a TV or bigger LCD. Everex also includes four application-launch keys below the screen and a volume dial on the front edge. Aside from the features found in Windows Vista Home Premium, the only software included is CyberLink's DVD Suite.

As for performance, the 1.66-GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 CPU is fine for typical chores but couldn't keep pace with the Intel Core 2 Duo machines here, posting a score of 3,411 on PCMark05, the lowest of the group. The 256MB Nvidia GeForce Go 7600 GPU is good enough for casual gamers and plenty powerful for Vista's Aero interface, but the machine posted a merely okay score of 7,009 on 3DMark03. F.E.A.R. scores were good, but not great, at 41 fps on autodetect. Wireless throughput was slightly below average for this class at 10.9 Mbps at 15 feet, and 7.1 Mbps at 50 feet, as was the XT5000T's battery life of 1 hour and 18 minutes.

All told, the StepNote XT5000T doesn't have the flash or power of the other entries here. But considering you can get two-or three or four-of them for the money you'd spend on one of the others, buyers with modest needs and budgets might not mind.
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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Operating System MS Windows Vista Home Premium
RAM 1GB
RAM Upgradable to 4GB
Hard Drive Size 100GB
Hard Drive Speed 5,400rpm
Display Size 17
Native Resolution 1440x900
Optical Drive DVDRW Dual Layer
Optical Drive Speed 8X
Graphics Card Nvidia GeForce Go 7600
Video Memory 256MB
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
Ports (excluding USB) Ethernet
Ports (excluding USB) DVI
Ports (excluding USB) S-Video
Ports (excluding USB) Modem
Ports (excluding USB) Microphone
Ports (excluding USB) Headphone
Ports (excluding USB) Firewire
USB Ports 3
Card Slots ExpressCard
Card Slots 4-1 card reader
Warranty/Support One-year parts and labor/one-year toll-free 24/7
Size 15.7 x 11.8 x 1.6
Weight 8.5
Company Website www.everex.com