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Stone Neo review

Barry de la Rosa
20 Oct 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
316
inc VAT

The ExpressCard slot, long warranty and great keyboard makes the Neo stand out from the pack, but its battery life is below par.

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There's little new about Stone's Neo netbook. It follows the standard netbook specification - Intel Atom N270 processor, 160GB hard disk with 1GB of RAM, plus a bright 10.1in screen.

The Neo only has two USB ports, but surprisingly it finds room for a 34mm ExpressCard slot, which means you can add a 3G modem, or a range of other peripherals such as TV tuners, without having them protruding dangerously out from the side of the case. A memory card reader and a 1.3-megapixel webcam are typical, but still welcome inclusions.

The widescreen display has the usual 1,024x600 resolution. As with most netbooks we review, we feel a little irked by the 600-pixel depth, as this makes things feel cramped when reading documents or scrolling through web pages. The screen has a matt finish, so you shouldn't be distracted by reflections from strong light sources. However, the finish adds a 'frosted' layer which can partially obscure fine detail, also reducing the impact of colours. These were slightly dull, but the backlight was bright and even.

Just because netbooks have widescreen displays doesn't necessarily make them ideal for watching movies on the go. There's no optical drive, meaning that DVDs are out unless you carry an external one. The integrated Intel graphics can't handle HD video, but then you're unlikely to need it given the display's low resolution.

We liked the Neo's design, which is simple and feels well-built. The screen doesn't flex too much and the hinges feel sturdy. The lid folds right back, going past the 180-degree mark, making it ideal for use in cramped spaces. All the indicator lights are neatly placed together, and there are three simple buttons for email, web and webcam. Annoyingly, the small strip of rubber foam along the bottom edge of the keyboard scratches quite easily.

Top marks go to the keyboard, which has an excellent, light action and crisp feedback. The keys are just big enough to be comfortable - our only gripes would be the half-height Enter key, and the displacement of the Backslash key to make way for an extra-wide Left Shift key.

The touchpad is small, smooth and responsive, and although the buttons are relatively tiny, they're close enough to the edge of the case to increase accessibility.

The Neo's sub-four hour battery life is fine for occasional mobile use - although there are far better options for work on the go. Still, its three-year RTB warranty is a real bonus.

This is a solidly built netbook. However, it's only worth buying if you really need the ExpressCard slot, otherwise we'd recommend Samsung's N120 or N140 instead.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Atom N270
Processor clock speed1.6GHz
Memory1.00GB
Memory slots1
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory2GB
Size36x262x184mm
Weight1.3kg
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad
Power consumption standby1W
Power consumption idle13W
Power consumption active21W

Display

Viewable size10.1 in
Native resolution1,024x600
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA 950
Graphics/video portsVGA
Graphics Memory224MB

Storage

Total storage capacity160GB
Optical drive modelN/A
Optical drive typeN/A

Ports and Expansion

USB ports2
Bluetoothno
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11b/g
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/34
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSD, MMC, Memory Stick Pro
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows XP Home Edition
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includednone

Buying Information

Warrantythree years RTB
Price£316
Detailswww.stonegroup.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.stonegroup.co.uk

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