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Evesham Zieo N500-HD 17in laptop

Evesham tempts us with Intel's 'Santa Rosa' notebook technology

Review Evesham has moved fast to pack its Zieo N500-HD laptop with a long list of 'Santa Rosa' Centrino Duo features. The 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 processor runs on the new 800MHz frontside bus and the chipset is a combination of 965 northbridge and ICH8M. Ordinarily, a new southbridge adds a handful of new features such as extra USB ports, but Centrino Duo is heavily skewed towards power management and longer battery life.

Evesham Zieo N500-HD laptop

ICH8M introduces Active Management Technology 2.5, which requires AMT compliant firmware, Bios and drivers that enable all sorts of clever tricks. The CPU speed can be varied by dynamic switching of the FSB, or one core can be switched off when the system is running software that isn';t threaded. Indeed, when the system detects that it's idle, we're told that all or part of the CPU and chipset can be switched off to save power.

Power management is a major aspect of both Centrino Duo and Windows Vista and we'll come back to it shortly.

The new southbridge boosts the Ethernet connection to Gigabit, and while the new Centrino should add 802.11n Wi-Fi, our loan sample didn't come with this latest form of Wi-Fi. The mobile 965's integrated graphics take a leap forward from previous generations by using the GMA X3100 core, which is based on the hardware used in the desktop G965 chipset. However, it's irrelevant in this case as Evesham has opted to use an Nvidia GeForce 8600M GT graphics chip too.

The Zieo is the first laptop we've seen that includes Intel Turbo Memory. This as a plug-in module that uses the PCI Express bus and comes in 512MB and 1GB varieties - our machine had the latter.

In addition to the Centrino Duo platform there's a decent list of features, and the chassis is dominated by the 17in screen with its 1680 x 1050 resolution. No doubt that's the reason why Evesham chose to use the 8600M GT as there are so many pixels to push. We found that the high resolution limited gaming performance as you only get 15-20fps in the most graphically intensive games.

Evesham Zieo N500-HD
Evesham'Zieo N500-HD: the front...

That's not to say that the large screen is a bad idea. Evesham has included a TV tuner, which is identified in the Device Manager as an eMPIA Technology Hybrid TV device. Plug in an aerial using the supplied adapter and the Vista Media Centre software works really well with the FreeView TV tuner to transform the Evesham into a decent telly.

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