Acer TravelMate 4150LMi
Dell Latitude D610
LG LW60 Express
MSI Megabook S260
MSI Megabook S270
Samsung M40 plus
Toshiba Tecra M3
How we tested
CPU -- Intel
If you are looking to ditch your desktop PC and, within reason, do not care how large the notebook is as long as it's a close substitute then perhaps the M40 plus is the way to go. This notebook is huge, I thought I had warped back in time to around 15 years ago when I first laid eyes on the unit. The M40 is 39.5cm wide and 28cm deep and inside the classy-looking silver case is technology that is 15 years ahead of the old and clunky monsters of yore.
Open the notebook and the reason for its girth is instantly apparent -- the Samsung has 17in widescreen display.
Surprisingly the notebook is not as heavy as might be expected tipping the scales at just on 3kg. The plastic case, with brushed aluminium accents, is quite robust and while there is some flex in the display, it is more sturdy than we expected.
The display, with an impressive resolutionof 1440 x 900, is driven by an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics chip -- with display redraws and even 3D performance the M40 is certainly no slouch and was the fourth fastest overall in the 3D tests.
It's a pity though that with such an enormous amount of space at their disposal the engineers simply opted for a standard-sized notebook keyboard when they could have easily added a numeric keypad like the LG. If you're a fan of palm rests then the M40's will be right down your alley, the touch pad looks tiny even though it's a standard size and includes a windows vertical scroll function down the right hand side. Samsung has included a useful four-way button on the right side of the keyboard that can be programmed with some user shortcuts and is configured to launch Outlook, Explorer, Calculator as well as toggle the WLAN on and off.
The WLAN functionality is provided by a Mini-PCI card which includes 802.11B/G connectivity, it's a pity that the LAN connectivity does not include Gigabit but stops short at 100TX. There are three USB2 ports and a Firewire port, useful for video cameras and digital video camera memory is also catered for, but only if it's a camera that features Memory Stick.
The audio quality of the M40 is very good for a notebook -- the two speakers in the palm rest are surprisingly mellow and loud, only the HP was competitive to the M40 in this regard. The test unit was configured with 512MB of DDR but there is a spare socket for additional upgrades to a maximum of 2GB. The Intel CPU is clocked at 1.8GHz and in tandem with the ATI graphics provides snappy performance in all graphics intensive applications while typical business application performance is slightly below average for the group.
Samsung rate the battery life at four hours but we managed four hours, 38 minutes under moderate workloads; the average user should expect at least four hours from the M40.
One would imagine that with such a large notebook the engineers would have ample opportunity to dissipate heat and that was the case in our testing with the highest temperature recorded under the base of the unit a shade under 30°C; the lowest temperature of all the notebooks tested.