Iridium – Starbook 212 review

low cost, well designed laptop
Photo of Iridium – Starbook 212
£725

Iridium’s latest notebook appears to have undergone some downsizing. The slim-and-quite-slinky machine features a 12.1-inch screen and compact keyboard that combine to make a smaller laptop than we’re use to seeing. It’s all deliberate, of course, because the sum total of this approach is a computer with the emphasis very much on portability.

Our test machine came with a capable 1500+ mobile Athlon processor, 256MB of memory, a 40GB hard drive and an S3 Graphics Pro Savage graphics solution inside. These are, by cutting edge standards, quite modest specifications, but they do have the desired effect of keeping the end price comparably slim.

What’s more, the machine itself is perfectly able, with just one or two minor niggles. You’d guess that a unit such as the Starbook 212 will predominantly be put to office and Internet based tasks, which throughout the duration of our review it handled with ease. Its absolute silence of operation is to be commended, too, with the exception of when the optical drive, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo, was called into action. Even then, the Starbook 212′s operational volume was no issue.

Included in the package is a copy of Windows XP Home, and Iridium also bundles the basic edition of Easy CD Creator 5, a copy of PowerDVD and the Ability Office 2002 office suite. These are capable applications, and while Easy CD Creator has long since been superseded, and Ability Office is about to be, they give you the basics to be able to start working with the computer straight out of the box.

Let’s touch on those niggles, though. The compact keyboard, while very comfortable to type on, has made one or two concessions to keep things trim. As such, there’s a real clutter of keys on the right of the keyboard, and anyone with digits sized over the norm is likely to hit more than one key on numerous occasions.

Second, the performance, while capable, legislates against 3D gaming and intensive graphical work (certainly our Sandra and PC Mark tests produced little to scream about, although, conversely, not much to mutter about either). Given the target audience of the machine, that’s not likely to be a big problem, but it’s worth knowing. It’s possible too that the screen, crisp as it is, may be a little too small for some to work with.

Yet our conclusions are otherwise positive. This is a sleek, well packaged unit that’s clearly enjoyed some thought at the design stage. For instance, there are connections mounted on the front for headphones and mic, along with a volume control. Three USB ports are conveniently located on the right face, although locating the VGA out port on the left face leaves it very close to the edge of the keyboard. There are no connections on the back of the Starbook 212 at all.

Supplied with a good carry case, the Starbook 212 will suit someone looking for a slim, light and easy to carry machine. It will do the kind of everyday tasks the majority use their machines for, and not make a racket in the process.

Company: Iridium

Contact: 0870 066 0222


Verdict
Built to apparently high standards, the Starbook 212 is worthy solution for those after a good, portable, workhorse machine. Its performance, deliberately, won't trouble the higher end laptops, but this really scores where value for money is concerned.