NEC VERSA P8210

A speedy mid-to-high-end multimedia notebook with just a handful of minor flaws.


7.5
CNET Rating
7.7
User Rating


Design
The VERSA P8210 is a desktop replacement notebook that's meant for use as a gaming/entertainment system. As such, its large dimensions - 359mm by 255mm by 34mm -- and 2.9kg heft are unsurprising, limiting the notebook to "office mobility", in the words of NEC. Our interpretation of office mobility is that it's suited to being transported between work and home, but certainly not for use on the road.

Immediately noticeable upon popping the lid is that the notebook doesn't use a full-size keyboard. The letter and number keys are large, but the function keys have been squished -- a strange decision by the designers at NEC, considering the amount of unused space around the keyboard.

Bordering the 15.4-inch display are glossy, reflective black strips, which we found to be decidedly irritating. Somewhat making up for this flaw is the large, comfortable track pad and mouse buttons. We found the vertical scroll feature to be particularly useful when reading through long documents without an external mouse attached.

Curiously absent are quick-launch buttons, which typically lie in a row just above the keyboard. Instead, this part of the chassis is bare save for two stereo speakers and a power button.

Features
Being pitched as an entertainment/gaming notebook, the P8210 is decked out with a powerful set of hardware components. It's based around the Intel Centrino Duo platform, and at the core of the system is a 1.83GHz Core Duo processor, 1GB of DDR2 memory and an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics chip. The X1600 is beginning to show its age when used with the latest games, but given the P8210's overall AU$3199 price tag, it's what we were expecting.

A 100GB hard drive provides plenty of storage space, and once that's filled you can back up data using the dual-layer DVD writer. The 4-in-1 memory card reader provides additional storage flexibility, proving particularly handy for avid photographers.

Ports abound, and among the more notable inclusions are four USB 2.0 ports, a Firewire port, an S-Video port (for output to a TV) and a DVI port (for digital output to an external monitor). Additionally, NEC has chosen to include a newfangled ExpressCard slot on the P8210, as opposed to the older PC-Card standard. The upside of this is that there's some degree of future-proofing, but the downside is that few add-in cards currently use the ExpressCard standard.

The integrated sound subsystem is head and shoulders above that commonly seen on competing notebooks. In addition to the mandatory set of stereo speakers, the underside of the chassis boasts a built-in subwoofer, improving low-frequency sounds immensely. This coupled with the bundled remote control makes the notebook highly suitable for headphone-less gaming and movie playback.

Finally, the P8210's networking capabilities are also top-notch, and include 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, 10/100 Ethernet, a standard 56kbps modem and Bluetooth.

Performance
With a notebook of this calibre, it's almost a given that non-gaming applications such as word processing, image manipulation and spreadsheet editing will run without any signs of slowdown. The P8210 doesn't disappoint here, churning out a score of 223 in MobileMark2005's productivity test, which we consider to be a good score given that the slightly pared down Sony VAIO VGN-FE15GP managed a score of 172.

BAPCo MobileMark2005 performance rating
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

223 172


On the same token, desktop replacement notebooks rarely offer impressive battery life, and the P8210 is no exception. Even after considering the unit's "Eco-Mode" battery life extension feature, the P8210 maxes out at just over two hours. Having said that, this isn't below our expectations, and the laptop's size makes it a poor candidate for extreme mobility anyway.

BAPCo MobileMark2005 battery life rating
(Longer bars indicate more battery-life minutes)

124 Minutes 172 Minutes


The main reason most would consider purchasing the P8210 is for gaming or other multimedia applications, and here the notebook performs pleasingly, but not spectacularly. DVD playback is impressive, thanks to the large widescreen display and decked out audio system, but gaming is a mixed bag. In our Call of Duty 2 test -- with high detail settings and the resolution cranked up to the display's native setting, 1280x800 -- our average frames per second (FPS) score was 14.1. This is a playable frame rate, but it's noticeably slow at times and won't impress hardcore gamers. That said, Call of Duty 2 is quite a system intensive game, and older titles play much more smoothly.

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Alan posted a comment   

The Good:It is a good looking laptop, look nice.

The Bad:My friend said that the battery will quickly become empty.

Any one tried installed Win 2000 on this machine? I need an old notebook that can run Win 2000, my friend would like to sell it to me 2nd hand.

Z33DO
10
Rating
 

Z33DO posted a review   

The Good:Powerful, fast.

The Bad:Not good for gaming.

This is more of an office/home use laptop and not good for gaming, but works great with Windows 7 + Windows Media Centre with a 4GB RAM upgrade.

greefus
8
Rating
 

greefus posted a review   

The Good:great if you have xp on it , i would advise agains running vista or win 7 .. never had a problem even able to play games like wow and call of duty 4

The Bad:havent seen any thing so far to comment

i love this laptop , i upgraded the ram and now it runs like a charm never ever had a problem with it , no heat problems or shutdown

 

coopdaddy posted a comment   

The Good:We have had this laptop for almost 4 years and still works like new

The Bad:not very compact

cant complain for reals

 

bazwaldo posted a comment   

The Good:Has everything. Fast, plays games, reliable, remote control, sound ,m.ultimedia. Easy to upgrade.

The Bad:After 3 years its gets hot (fan needs a clean) and some keys in the wrong places.

Fantastic notebook still after 3yrs. Ram and Harddisk were very easy to upgrade. Screen is very good. Plays Halflife2 & Farcry, has remote control, very good sound.
Enter key could have been full size and Control & Function keys should be swapped round. Fan needs to get cleaned once a year or it gets very hot and shuts down. Great Laptop, 3yrs almost daily games, work, internet and Cad use. I would buy another.

Aimee
1
Rating
 

Aimee posted a review   

My daughter purchased a NEC laptop and it has driven me to just about looking at buying her another one, but a differant brand. Her's for whatever reason, shut's down all the time,k automatically. This can happen after turning it on , and after a few minutes to ten minutes to a hour, the length of time is all over the place. ANY IDEA'S PLEASE. I have rated this product low. as we can't find the reason for the problem

 

AustallikA posted a reply   

Have encountered similar problems with my girlfriends old one, which overheats and shuts down at random. Has been back for warranty support and they have put 3 new motherboards in it, all to no avail. Further inspection by myself found that all the drivers on the 8210 disk were for another model. Go to the NEC website, download the latest chipset driver and should fix it up mostly. Oh and as for the OS disk, what was supposedly XP SP2 actually has WIN98 on it. Way to go NEC.

 

sampla posted a reply   

this happened to mine, the air intake vents were blocked, cleaned them with ompressed air and works lyk new now

 

ArthurR1 posted a reply   

The problem lies in the power jack port. It is soldered to the PCB. You need to re-solder it, and give it more solder wire so that you make a strong soldered joint. I did this, and don't face shutdown problems.

cltw666
1
Rating
 

cltw666 posted a review   

The Good:It is a laptop

The Bad:This laptop overheats and shutdown without warning

This is the worst laptop on the market

 

ArthurR1 posted a reply   

The problem lies in the power jack port. It is soldered to the PCB. You need to re-solder it, and give it more solder wire so that you make a strong soldered joint. I did this, and don't face shutdown problems.

dom46
10
Rating
 

dom46 posted a review   

The Good:Fast speed, good memory

The Bad:Battery life is ok, not great

Great all round notebook.


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User Reviews / Comments  NEC VERSA P8210

  • Alan

    Alan

    "Any one tried installed Win 2000 on this machine? I need an old notebook that can run Win 2000, my friend would like to sell it to me 2nd hand."

  • Z33DO

    Z33DO

    Rating10

    "This is more of an office/home use laptop and not good for gaming, but works great with Windows 7 + Windows Media Centre with a 4GB RAM upgrade."

  • greefus

    greefus

    Rating8

    "i love this laptop , i upgraded the ram and now it runs like a charm never ever had a problem with it , no heat problems or shutdown"

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