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Optima Prolite K Series review: Optima Prolite K Series

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The Good Bright, widescreen 12.1\" display. Accessible Firewire and audio ports at front. Includes a DVD burner.

The Bad Poor battery life. Dated design.

The Bottom Line The sub-2kg Prolite notebook includes a DVD burner and a decent set of features, but its battery life will not satisfy road warriors.

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Design
Not to say the Prolite K series is unattractive, but we suspect Optima won't be receiving any design awards for this notebook. It has a sliver finish, not by any means as sleek as Apple's Powerbook G4, and the modern touches pretty much end there.

Smaller than Optima's more professional looking 15" Centoris G series, the Prolite K Series measures 215 x 297 x 34-42mm -- higher at the back due to elevation boosters. It is reasonably thick compared to other compact laptops but keeps its weight down to a light 1.9kg (which includes the optical drive and battery).

The Prolite K's keyboard looks a tad dated with its beige colouring but the touchpad redeems the notebook somewhat in terms of style. Most touchpads found on notebooks have a definable border, but the K Series lower half is all silver, with the touchpad area blending into its surroundings with only a slight depression revealing its whereabouts. It might visually be more appealing but it is at the expense of practicality to use.

Features
Powering the Prolite is an Intel Pentium M processor running at 1.5GHz, sporting a 1MB cache and a 400MHz front side bus. There is 512MB of RAM onboard that supports up to 1GB of memory expansion. The K Series has a 12.1-inch widescreen LCD capable of displaying resolutions up to 1280 x 800. Video is handled by Intel's integrated Extreme Graphics 2 which shares up to 64MB of system memory.

The standard Prolite K Series comes with an internal DVD/CDRW combo drive and costs AU$2,999. A version featuring a DVD burner that supports +RW, -RW and RAM formats retails for AU$3,499. Our review model came with a 60GB hard disk and Optima offers 30/40/80GB alternatives.

For connectivity, audio outputs and a Firewire (IEEE 1394) port are conveniently located at the front of the Prolite near the palm rest. There are two USB ports, VGA out for an external monitor, S-Video, LAN and modem ports. Below the PC card slot is a CompactFlash card reader that is handy to have if your digital camera uses the CF format, but we would have preferred a multi-card reader, like the one found on the Asus W1N and Acer's TravelMate 8005LMi.

As a Centrino certified notebook, the K Series has an Intel Pro/Wireless 2200 adapter providing integrated 802.11b and 802.11g wireless connectivity. The b standard allows wireless data transfers at speeds up to 11 megabits per second, while the g standard enables up to 54mbps.

Running Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition, Optima bundles a Cyberlink suite consisting of PowerDVD, PowerDirector, Power2Go, PowerProducer, Media@Show, and DVD Solution. Microsoft Works and Encarta 2004 are also included.

Performance
The Optima Prolite X scored 170 in Bapco's MobileMark 2002 productivity test, which lasted only 146 minutes. During the less-intensive reader test, the notebook's battery lasted a total of 171 minutes. A disappointing result considering Optima's Centoris notebook has a 15" screen and lasted almost 5 hours in our tests.

Optima provides a standard one-year warranty with the notebook.

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