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Apricot Picobook Pro netbook

Intel Atom? Pah! VIA's C7-M makes good

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

The right side is home to one of the Pro's stand-out features: an ExpressCard 34 slot. This seemed a big plus point, but then we wondered how likely it is that the average SCC buyer is going to need it. ExpressCard is the successor to the old PC Card - aka PCMCIA - slot. Time was when Ethernet, modem and, later, Wi-Fi connectivity were the sole province of add-in cards. Now they're all built-in, leaving today's add in cards an eclectic selection of niche products.

Apricot Picobook Pro

Standard Small, Cheap Computer portage

The Pro has Bluetooth on board, so you won't need a USB slot or ExpressCard for that, and its Wi-Fi connection has support for the 5GHz band and 802.11a, always a favourite of corporate wireless network implementors. Again, this may appeal to businesses, as will the C7-M processor's on-board security module, which accelerates the encryption calculations needed by VPN links.

We can't say whether it makes a practical difference, not having a VPN line into a monster corporate server handy. From a benchmarks perspective, however, the Pro's nothing to write home about. PCMark05 shows a the 1.2GHz C7-M to be the weakest netbook CPU we've tested, and the memory and hard drive scores are likewise well below many other SCCs' results.

PCMark05 Results

Apricot Picobook Pro - PCMark05 Results

Longer bars are better

Don't read too much into that, however, because it's not so very far below Atom-based machines set to run at half speed - clock frequencies aren't comparable across different processor makers' products - though those netbooks have the advantage of HyperThreading to make the CPU seem almost dual-core. The C7-M is a single-core part, pure and simple.

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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