- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

Google “Vista laptops” and you will see, among the top “sponsored” links, one to a mail-order firm offering a Sony Vaio portable with the Windows Vista operating system installed for just under $1,800.

Fair enough, but what if you could get an $800.01 discount off that price? While the two models aren’t exactly equivalent — the advertised Sony Vaio has double the RAM and slightly more than four times the hard drive storage — the Systemax Pursuit 4155, list price $999.99, is a good value for the money.

Indeed, some users could benefit from the dollar savings associated with the lower-priced model.

Here are the Systemax particulars: The Fletcher, Ohio-based firm markets mostly via its TigerDirect.com subsidiary.

The Pursuit isn’t “thin and light,” given the 15.4-inch diagonal LCD display it sports, a built-in CD-RW/DVD-ROM optical drive, and a generously sized keyboard that lacks for little but a separate numeric keypad. There’s a nice-sized “touchpad,” which advertises a scrolling feature that is somehow unimplemented.

That deficiency, however, is the only visible one I could find in the Pursuit. Yes, a built-in Web camera would be nice, but the bargain-inclined can add that separately. I’d like a larger hard disk drive, but 60 gigabytes isn’t paltry; doubling that capacity would add $120 to the price.

Less visible is the slim, but usable, 1 gigabyte of RAM in the machine.

Increasing that to 2 gigabytes would add $200 to the price if ordered from Systemax; those unafraid of installing their own memory modules can find equivalent ones for about one-fourth the Systemax price. Personally, I’d rather see 2 gigabytes of RAM as an official “minimum” requirement for all new computers.

My review unit was shipped as advertised: the 1 gigabyte of RAM and 60-gigabyte hard drive, as well as a built-in WiFi radio for easy Internet connections, and a “matte” finish 15.4-inch screen, the only one available. Turn the brightness up, however, and it’s certainly acceptable for computer tasks; whether you’d want to watch DVD movie after DVD movie on it is another story.

Battery life seems more than decent, and the Systemax folks offer both a larger battery and extra power adapters as options. One pleasant surprise was seeing a European-style power cord along with one for domestic use; that’s a nice touch, and suggests the actual power supply itself can automatically select and switch among different voltages.

The computer’s performance is agile enough for word processing and simple graphics tasks. More complicated work would, as noted, require more memory for optimal results and speed.

Having received the Systemax in the middle of last week, I can’t judge the quality of the firm’s support, other than to note that they’ve been around for more than a few years, and — unlike a certain larger firm whose portable arrived earlier — the Pursuit actually worked out of the box.

Worse still, the “brand X” PC arrived without an optical drive, making the “system restore” disc utterly useless. Systemax does, it should be noted, include a restore disc with the Pursuit, along with the optical drive.

I like this computer and wouldn’t hesitate to suggest it to those looking for a low-cost, solidly performing laptop.

• Read Mark Kellner’s Tech Blog at www.washingtontimes.com/blogs.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide