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Jewish World Review
April 27, 2007
/ 9 Iyar, 5767
$999 Vista Laptop? Why not?
Google "Vista laptops" and among the top 'sponsored' (i.e., bought and
paid for) links is an 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 a $800.01 discount off that
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's the Systemax skinny: 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 which 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 too shabby; 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 2GB 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
My review unit was shipped as advertised: the 1 Gig of RAM and 60 Gig 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-ish
tasks; whether you'd want to watch DVD movie after DVD movie on it is
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.
Purists will bemoan the lack of this or that feature on the Systemax
Pursuit, but if you look at this for what it is - a basic, functional
computer for basic, functional work - you won't be too far disappointed.
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 a few days 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
aforementioned optical drive.
I like this computer and wouldn't hesitate to suggest it to those looking
for a low-cost, solidly performing laptop.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2007, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com