Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus £624.98
21st Mar 2012 | 12:10
An Ultrabook that's affordable for all
These ultra-portable and powerful laptops all come equipped with solid-state drive (SSD) storage, long battery life and a chassis that's thin enough to give the Apple MacBook Air a run for its money.
Smaller manufacturers haven't been so quick off the mark, though, which makes the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus the first Ultrabook we've seen that isn't from an established, global computer company.
That isn't to say Novatech is small. The British firm has been selling both components and customised PCs for a while, and in keeping with tradition, there's plenty of choice with its Ultrabook range, with the option of an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor, and varying quantities of storage and memory.
They're all less expensive than the bigger brands, and there's also the option to buy a model without an operating system, which reduces the cost further.
We're talking significantly less expensive. The Core i3 Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus model that we were sent is priced at just £625, and comes with 4GB of memory, a 128GB SSD and Windows 7.
Without Windows, the low-end Novatech nFinity 2367 model costs just £430, and the top spec Novatech nFinity 2637 Core i7 model is only £699.
An Ultrabook free from the shackles of a pre-installed operating system opens up the possibility of installing a distribution of Linux, such as Ubuntu, on the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus.
You can also try the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, or even Windows XP, if you wish.
Almost everything you'll find on a more expensive Ultrabook is present on the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus. There's a good number of ports: three USB 2.0 connectors (USB 3.0 is unfortunately absent), an HDMI port and an analogue VGA connector, along with an SD card reader and the usual audio outputs.
It isn't all good news, though. In no way is the build quality or general feel of the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus anywhere near as good as the bigger brand models.
You could say the all-black appearance is extremely minimalist, although you may also argue that it's plain boring. There are also gaps where pieces of the chassis come together, a far cry from the unibody designs found on other Ultrabooks.
The trackpad is small, and not much better than one found on a typical netbook. The keys are laid out with an isolated style, but they feel spongy, so typing is less comfortable than on, say, a MacBook Pro.
The case feels strong at least, but flexes slightly in places. The screen is far from terrible, but it isn't the brightest, and colours aren't as clean as on higher-end laptops.
It's not especially thin or light either, despite that being one of the supposed benefits of an Ultrabook. At its thickest point, the chassis is 21mm in depth, and it weighs 1.7kg. When held, that extra weight is noticeable.
But inside, even on this inexpensive and relatively mid-range model, everything is there to give a good computing experience.
An Intel Core i3 2367m processor isn't suited for heavy video encoding tasks or gaming, but it's enough for general use, and 4GB of memory is just enough to ensure Windows 7 is perfectly responsive.
Likewise, a 128GB SSD matches what's on offer from other Ultrabooks and provides enough space for Windows, applications and a modest file collection.
As with almost every other Ultrabook, the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus uses Intel's HD 3000 graphics processor, which is integrated into the CPU. This GPU may not be the most powerful around, but it can at least cope if you throw a 3D game at it, as long as you turn the detail and resolution down.
While it's still no powerhouse, this is a far cry from Intel's integrated processors of the past, which could barely get past the loading screen of even old games.
Battery Eater 05: 258 minutes
Cinebench 10: 6,237
3D Mark 06: 3,548
Since Ultrabooks are designed with portability and long-lasting battery life in mind, rather than raw performance, we weren't expecting a computer that was powerful enough to encode an HD video in three seconds flat.
However, the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus held up well in our tests, even though its 1.4GHz Intel Core i3 2367m processor is less powerful than Intel's Core i5 or Core i7 processors found on Ultrabooks such as the Asus Zenbook UX31, or Dell XPS 13.
The overall score of 6237 in Cinebench is nothing groundbreaking, and it comes out behind other Ultrabooks with more powerful processors.
But despite the testing figures, web pages and applications still loaded quickly. Having an SSD makes all the difference - it loads data far quicker than a mechanical hard disk can, which results in a really snappy Windows experience.
And although it didn't break any performance records, its battery life was excellent. In our standard Battery Eater test it took 258 minutes to drain all the power, a result that fares very well against other Ultrabooks. We put this down to the lower clock speed and lower demands of the Core i3 2367m processor.
A more realistic scenario, where the computer is used intermittently rather than pushed to its limit constantly, would certainly mean the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus would last for most of the day before requiring a connection to a power socket.
The Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus that we were sent came with Windows 7 Home Premium, which - as we mentioned - is optional. There's no extra software bundled with it either, which is a real blessing in a world where big-name manufacturers are happy to pre-install dozens of useless applications, clogging up their expensive products.
This increases the amount of time Windows takes to load and greets users with pop-up after pop-up of registration reminders when they first switch on their expensive new purchase.
Antivirus is catered for, with Microsoft Security Essentials installed on the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus. This is a reasonable piece of free security software.
Once we'd run our set of standard tests, we installed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview onto the SSD, and to our delight, it worked perfectly. Pressing the Start key on the keyboard instantly flipped between the tile-based Metro interface and Windows desktop, or indeed, any application that's running in the foreground. Not just quickly, but instantly.
Even as a lower priced Ultrabook, the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus is future-proofed.
We think the standard specification for Ultrabooks, which combines an SSD, generous quantity of memory and the high performance of even low-end modern processors, starts to make a lot of sense when testing the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
The experience of using Metro on a PC without an SSD and less memory is sluggish in comparison, and lacks the same instant feel we had when trying it out on the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus.
Although the full release of Windows 8 is still some time away, its good to know that this hardware will run it perfectly.
Summarising our final thoughts on the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus is tricky. Its main selling point is its incredibly low price, which is even lower if you leave Windows out and opt to install your own operating system.
That alone should ensure Novatech enjoys healthy sales of its Ultrabook range.
Performance-wise, it's nothing special, but the results are more than competitive when compared with other Ultrabooks. In use, we never ran into a situation where we felt the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus was starting to buckle under pressure. Admittedly, we wouldn't choose this computer for editing video in Adobe Premiere, though.
For office tasks, such as writing and editing documents, spreadsheets and looking up information online, an Ultrabook such as the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus is perfectly fine, and it meets the goal of a mobile PC that will perform adequately, with a long battery life, under a relatively light load.
Despite the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus ticking most boxes for performance, and putting in an excellent show in our battery tests, something is missing here that more expensive Ultrabooks possess. The lack of USB 3.0 is slightly irritating, but for us, isn't a deal breaker.
Its the bulky frame, comparatively hefty weight and average build quality that are the real reminder of its low price point.
This isn't a PC laptop that will impress onlookers when you first take it out of its bag. It isn't just the lack of a brand name - we think its appearance really is as bog standard as you can get, at least for an Ultrabook.
Sat next to Apple's undeniably beautiful MacBook Air, it isn't hard to see why the Novatech Nfinity n2367 Plus costs less. It lacks personality, and there's nothing to distinguish it from the crowd, which firms such as Dell, HP and Asus have tried hard to achieve with their Ultrabook designs.
Its dimensions may seem hefty compared with other Ultrabooks, and it certainly won't win any beauty contests, but the Novatech nFinity 2367 Plus is lighter and thinner than a traditional laptop from a few years ago, performs well and doesn't cost the earth.
For these reasons, it's certainly worth considering.