Mesh Discovery D2300 £680
30th Jun 2006 | 23:00
A budget laptop with a performance worthy of a higher price
The Mesh Discovery D2300 comes with a large screen, the latest technology and a contemporary silver and black design, and happens to be one the cheapest machines in its class. The Mesh has a 15-inch screen with a high resolution of 1,400 x 1,050 pixels (SXGA ). In contrast to the widescreen displays used by similar laptops, this Mesh has a 4:3 aspect ratio.
The display is colourful and sharp, with plenty of room onscreen to view several applications simultaneously. An Intel 945GM graphics adapter supports the display - the same integrated solution as used by many other laptops. The Mesh posted a 3DMark 2003 score of 863, which is unsuitable for 3D gaming, but fine for running office applications or watching DVDs.
The Mesh's footprint of 335x279x41mm is dictated by the shape and size of the display. With a 2.7kg weight the Discovery retains an element of portability. Aluminium buttons sit below the touchpad, and there's ample palm-rest space. The keyboard is large, well spaced, and typing at speed does not pose a problem.
The keys are not particularly quiet, though, and feel like they could be more firmly attached. The chassis is robust, with hard-wearing plastics, and for a machine costing under £700, we were impressed. Everyday performance of the Mesh is strong; an Intel Core-Duo T2300 running at 1.66GHz, and 512MB of DDR2 memory power the machine. However, with a MobileMark 2005 score of 198, the Discovery is certinaly on the slow side.
The 80GB hard drive rotating at 5400rpm helps improve performance. While it may trail the other laptops, the Mesh is still capable of running most tasks with ease. As with many dual-core laptops, battery life is poorer than equivalent Pentium M machines, and the Mesh lasted just 188 minutes, under test.
To take advantage of networks, both wireless and fixed, the Discovery is equipped with 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet adapters, and connectivity is boosted by the inclusion of a 3-in-1 card reader and a mini- Firewire port.
Usability is further increased by the inclusion of a 1.3-megapixel camera: proof that budget laptops don't need to be devoid of features. The Mesh performs everyday applications adeptly. It may not excel in any one area, but the Discovery is a competent all-rounder, offering similar performance to its rivals for considerably less money. Philip Barker, Michael Browne