Polywell PolyNote 3015NS review: Polywell PolyNote 3015NS

The Good Good performance and battery life; top-speed hard drive and a gigabyte of high-speed memory; light for its size; reasonable price.

The Bad Weak speakers; lacks DVD-writable option; nameplates are glued on; navigation button is just for looks.

The Bottom Line The Polywell PolyNote 3015NS excels in a few areas, but a few flaws mar an otherwise superior business laptop.

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6.8 Overall

Polywell, a respected maker of high-performance PCs, tries to appeal to the middle of the laptop market with its PolyNote 3015NS thin-and-light. The $1,855 price tag and the speedy performance might entice some business travelers or gamers, but the PolyNote 3015NS lacks a DVD-burning drive, and it has cosmetic problems that make it look cheap. Other top thin-and-lights, such as the Acer TravelMate 803LCi, the Fujitsu LifeBook S series, and the IBM ThinkPad T41, are a better value.

The Polywell PolyNote 3015NS sports a stylish silver-and-blue case, but its nameplates are glued on crooked, making it look amateurish. We complained about the same thing on the last Polywell laptop we reviewed, the PolyNote 3000N. At 1.7 by 12.8 by 10.4 inches and 6.4 pounds, the Polywell PolyNote 3015NS is light compared to competing thin-and-lights. (Polywell claims that the PolyNote 3015NS is the lightest 15-inch-screen laptop in the world.) Unfortunately, the laptop requires a three-prong grounded outlet to recharge its battery. Another head-scratcher is the little circular navigation button between the mouse buttons: it doesn't work. Polywell confirmed that it's there just for looks; it doesn't move the pointer right, left, up, or down.

Despite its cosmetic flaws, the laptop comes packed with high-performance components, from its 1.6GHz Pentium M processor to the gigabyte of high-speed 333MHz memory to the screaming, 7,200rpm 60GB hard drive. The 15-inch screen is powered by an ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 accelerator with 64MB of video memory, which makes this a decent gaming machine for the money. Our test machine came with a CD-RW/DVD optical drive; too bad no DVD-writable option is available.

The Polywell PolyNote 3015NS also sports plenty of ports and connection options, including S-Video, external monitor, parallel, FireWire, a pair of USB ports, audio, and 802.11b wireless networking. The keyboard is spacious and firm, with 19.1mm keys that have 2.1mm of depth, but the speakers never get loud enough.

With a MobileMark 2002 score of 167, the Polywell PolyNote 3015NS is fast for a 1.6GHz Pentium M laptop. It came in just behind the Gateway 200 but finished 20 percent behind Acer's extremely fast TravelMate 803LCi. The Polywell's 3,600mAh, lithium-ion battery runs for almost four hours, a good time for a thin-and-light but well behind the Acer TravelMate 803LCi.

Polywell includes a padded case with the PolyNote 3015NS and guarantees it for one year--a standard, if somewhat skimpy, warranty these days. Polywell doesn't offer a three-year standard warranty, but three years of onsite service adds a steep $300 to the price tag. Some components, such as the CPU and the graphics accelerator, are covered for three years. Polywell's online tech-support offerings are skimpy and focus almost entirely on the company's desktops and workstations. Thankfully, however, Polywell provides 24/7, toll-free phone support for the life of the system.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  
Gateway 200
Polywell PolyNote 3015NS

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  
Polywell PolyNote 3015NS
Gateway 200

System configurations:

Acer TravelMate 803LCi
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Toshiba MK6022GAX 60GB 5,400rpm

Gateway 200
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 855GM Extreme Graphics (up to 64MB); Toshiba MK6022GAX 60GB 5,400rpm

Polywell PolyNote 3015NS
Windows XP Home; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 1,024MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 60GB 7,200rpm