Security detail

10th March 2006 at 00:00
Desmond De Araujo finds the latest in laptop security when he breaks into the new NEC Generation

NEC Generation 'A+' Notebook

A notebook computer with Intel (Centrino) Pentium M processor 740 (1.86GHz), 14-inch wide screen WXGA TFT, 512Mb memory, 60GB hard disk, DVD-RW+R9 dual-layer multiformat drive, wifi (802.11bg), biometric fingerprint reader, Windows XP Home Edition, Oxygen Cubed Software, NEC managed anti-virus solution, Stoptrack and Webtrack, three-year anti-theft insurance, custom design NEC backpack.

Price: pound;779 excl VAT ('A' Model at pound;649 exc. VAT).

NEC Computers Tel: 0870 010 6328

Fitness for purpose ****

Ease of use ****

Features ****

Quality ****

Value for money ****

The key features of the NEC Generation notebook are its distinctive design and supreme security. The thief that manages to steal this and then make full use of it will be exceptional. NEC has provided the most up-to-date and innovative security features around, some of which are embedded, others software-based.

David Newbould, UK product manager at NEC, says, "This product has been extensively tested and developed to ensure it can exceed the needs of modern pupils and schools, whilst also taking into account parental concerns - the more secure the product, the safer the pupil."

The NEC Generation notebook has an anti-theft badge on the lower portion of its top cover, which clearly displays a barcode and the laptop's unique identification number. Removing the ID plate takes around 400kgs of pull and if this feat is managed an indelible "Stolen equipment" etching is left on the casing.

An inbuilt biometric fingerprint reader adds to the laptop's security.

Found in between the left and right touchpad buttons, the device allows secure logon of registered users through a simple swipe of the finger.

Inevitably, it also expedites the logon process and eliminates the need to remember passwords or keys.

The security doesn't stop there. Another top option is the ability to set specific user rights when first turned on. This may be performed by the teacher, parent or administrator and allows specific access rights to each child.

The Oxygen Cubed software allows owners some peace of mind if the Generation notebook is stolen - if it is subsequently used online, this tracking software allows the hardware to be located and recovered by the police. If it can't be recovered there is the benefit of three-year anti-theft insurance cover. Finally, NEC's security pack includes a spam killer, anti-virus and firewall protection.

The Generation's 14-inch widescreen (TFT) is eye-catching.Its high resolution (1280 x 800 pixels, WXGA) offers 30 per cent more pixels than an XGA screen. The silver-grey keyboard is full size and has a smooth feel to it.

Connectivity options include wireless, Bluetooth, infrared, FireWire and a choice of four USB ports. The dual-layer DVD writer is a great optical drive and combined with the large WXGA screen, is excellent for watching DVDs.

The Generation is slim but wider than most and only weighs 2.2kgs. The plastic casing is shiny and elegant but doesn't feel very strong. The lid catches in particular seem flimsy. However, NEC has included a custom-designed backpack as part of the package.

A good all-round package, the NEC Generation notebook offers decent performance, good value for money and, above all, excellent security.

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