The low-priced Enpower ENP660 combines an attractive design and the latest-generation Intel platform--though we suspect you'll want to lay down a little more cash for some component upgrades.
We were quite impressed when we opened the box containing the $1,199 Enpower ENP660. We'd been expecting a chunky, downright dowdy design, similar to that of the Enpower ENP680 we reviewed late last year. But the ENP660 looks more like what we'd expect from one of the big manufacturers, such as Toshiba or HP, and it's noticeably thinner than most laptops with the same size screen. We were less enthused when we ran it through our performance benchmarks; though it's built on Intel's fresh Centrino Duo platform, the ENP660 includes a low-tier Intel Core 2 Duo processor and paltry 1GB of RAM that couldn't keep pace with competitors' Centrino Duo laptops. That's less of a drawback than it may seem, however, when you consider that you can upgrade both the ENP660's processor speed and RAM and still pay less than you'd pay for the Sony VAIO FZ180 or the Lenovo 3000 N200. Our primary caveat centers on the ENP660's keyboard, which is unnecessarily cramped and will require users to adjust their typing--a deal-breaker for some. But if your fingers are adaptable, the Enpower ENP660 is an attractive, affordable Centrino Duo laptop.
|Price as reviewed / |
|$1,199 / $1,199|
|Processor||1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel 965GM Express|
|Memory||1GB of 667MHz|
|Hard drive||120GB at 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 (integrated)|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Dimensions (wide x deep x thick)||14 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.4 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||5.8 / 6.7 pounds|
The ENP660's matte-black case contains a stripe of silver around its edges that extends into the wrist rest, while a square Enpower logo on the back of the lid glows white when the laptop is running. We were impressed with the ENP660's remarkably slim case, which is at least 0.2 inch thinner than the Sony VAIO FZ180, Lenovo 3000 N200, and Dell Inspiron E1505, all of which include 15.4-inch screens. The Enpower ENP660 also feels very sturdily constructed and, at 5.8 pounds, it straddles the line between our midsize and thin-and-light categories.
The Enpower ENP660's appealing design extends to its 15.4-inch wide-screen display. While some glossy finishes can be overly reflective, the ENP660's display is glossy without being mirror-like. Despite the screen's average 1,280x800p native resolution, we thought both images and text looked sharp. Our only complaint: colors tended to look a bit washed out when the brightness setting was at medium or higher. Above the display sits a 1.3-megapixel Webcam; we were surprised to find the system's built-in microphone placed not in the display bezel but on the keyboard deck, where it's more likely to pick up typing noises.
Sadly, the keyboard is our least favorite feature on the Enpower ENP660. Though we were initially impressed with the board's solid feel, we were frustrated that such a broad case would nevertheless include a compressed keyboard. Many keys on the right side (including Backspace, Enter, space bar, period, and question mark) are half-size or smaller; even worse, the right-side Shift key is the size of a standard letter key, making it especially difficult to hit. Why did Enpower shrink the keyboard on an amply sized laptop? To include a ten-key numeric keypad, which we think is of dubious value to budget-minded home users who will be interested in this system. We were eventually able to adapt to the shrunken keyboard, so it isn't a complete deal-breaker--but we do recommend that anyone considering the ENP660 should think long and hard about their willingness to relearn their typing habits.
As you're adjusting your typing to the compressed keyboard layout, you'll also have to learn not to drag your wrists across the amply sized touchpad, lest you accidentally misplace your cursor while typing. Despite its unfortunate placement directly beneath the space bar, we liked the touchpad's textured surface and the accompanying mouse buttons, which offered just the right amount of resistance. The rest of the keyboard deck remains appealingly bare, with a row of five buttons on the upper-right side: power, e-mail launch, Web browser launch, Wi-Fi on/off and Webcam on/off. We wish we could program the buttons to launch the application of our choice, but that isn't possible. Also on the upper corners of the keyboard deck are the laptop's tiny stereo speakers, which produce unsurprisingly muddled sound.
|Enpower ENP660||Average for thin-and-light category|
|Video||VGA-out, S-video||VGA-out, S-video|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks, audio line out||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader||4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, multiformat memory card reader|
|Expansion||PC Card||PC Card or ExpressCard|
|Networking||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The Enpower ENP660 carries an impressive number of ports and connections for its low price, including an above-average four USB 2.0 ports (two on each side), an additional audio-out jack for connecting to external speakers, and 802.11n wireless compatibility. It should be noted, though, that the ENP660 lacks optional WWAN networking and an ExpressCard slot, both of which are found on lighter, more expensive systems, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad T61.
We tested the $1,199 Enpower ENP660 base configuration, which included the lowest-tier processor available with Intel's new Centrino Duo platform and 1GB of RAM--more modest components than what we've seen on most Centrino Duo review units. It was no surprise, then, that the ENP660 scored more in line with the previous-generation Dell Inspiron E1505 than the current Sony VAIO FZ180 ($1,999) or Lenovo 3000 N200 ($1,599) on CNET Labs' application benchmarks. That's not quite the end of the world: We think a full 2GB of RAM would bring the ENP660's performance in line with its peers. Though the upgrade adds $99 to the price, the ENP660 will still cost less than the Sony and the Lenovo. In fact, even if you doubled the RAM and upgraded the Enpower ENP660's processor to a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 (thus matching the Sony and the Lenovo configurations) it would still cost less than the others, making the Enpower ENP660 one of the least expensive laptops to include the mid-range components of Centrino Duo. While we didn't test that higher-end configuration, there's no reason not to believe that it would perform on a par with the Sony and the Lenovo.
The Enpower ENP660 ran for 2 hours, 12 minutes on our DVD battery drain test--not especially impressive, but acceptable. Our DVD battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from casual Web surfing and office use. Not surprisingly, the larger batteries found on both the Lenovo 3000 N200 and the Dell Inspiron E1505 lasted longer than the ENP660's battery.
The PC Club Enpower ENP660 is backed by an industry standard, one-year warranty on parts and labor, and extensions to three years of coverage are available at an affordable price. The company's online downloads and FAQs are paltry, though there is a helpful user forum; and if you live in one of the eight states with a PC Club retail store, you have the option of carrying in your system for service.
Find out more about how we test laptops.
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Mobile Intel 965GM; 120GB Western Digital 5,400rpm
Dell Inspiron E1505
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon x1400; 100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm
Lenovo 3000 N200
Windows Vista Business Edition; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM Express; 120GB Hitachi 5,400rpm
Sony Vaio VGN-FZ180E
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm