Mobility for all

2nd January 2004 at 00:00
The laptop landscape is changing ... whether it's Toshiba challenging Apple on design or Rock and RM bringing these once elite products to the masses

Time was when a laptop computer was something special, and you paid a premium price for the privilege of owning one. Nowadays, few laptops are special (except the really special ones, if you know what I mean - see Toshiba Portege review following) and companies like RM, no longer dependent on Far East assembly lines, are turning laptops into commodity items for schools. About time too.

The RM nBook 2700 review model came with an Intel Celeron processor, 240Mb of memory, Windows XP Professional, 40Gb hard disk and CD-Rom (even an optional floppy drive for antique collectors). It's as connective as most people need, with modem, ethernet socket, wireless networking and infrared (it replaces the serial port on the model it supersedes, the 2500). There are also three USB sockets and one firewire connection (essential for serious digital media work) along with twin PC-card slots, parallel port and connection for external monitor. The clear 15-inch screen crowns a machine that will break no one's budget at around pound;570 (online purchase around pound;530), an achievement that would have been unthinkable five years ago.

Ready loaded with Microsoft Office (an extra pound;10 if your school has a Microsoft site licence), it came armed and dangerous and took to the wireless network it encountered like a duck to water. It dealt with every other task thrown at it with exactly the same efficiency, neatly demolishing the outdated association of RM with proprietary systems and excessive prices. Anyone looking for a workhorse laptop that's also suitable as a desktop replacement - while it's not light, at 3kg it's certainly not the heaviest notebook - will have to look hard for competition.

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