Sager NP7250 User Review

by Reads (11,627)

by Kael Russell

The NP7250 is a 12" ultraportable laptop made by Sager. Sager is most commonly known for making gaming laptops, but has recently ventured into budget notebooks with this NP7250 and the NP6680. The NP7250 comes in four colors: black, white, yellow and pink. I seriously considered the pink one, but I’m not the kind of person that likes to stand out. If they had a purple one though …

I noticed a serious lack of feedback from anyone that owns this laptop so I thought I’d help fill the void by writing this review. I decided to buy this laptop because I just couldn’t find any other 12" notebooks for the same or lower price. Throughout the review, I will be comparing it to my Mom’s Toshiba Satellite M115 and my Dad’s HP Pavilion dv2000.

This is the first laptop I’ve owned, but I’ve used my Mom’s laptop a lot. I would consider myself somewhat of a geek. My desktop is running PCLinuxOS 2007 with Beryl and Avant Window Navigator and all that. I play a few games. Mostly stuff like Nexuiz, True Combat: Elite, and Vendetta Online. Usually only stuff that runs natively in Linux. I obviously won’t be doing any gaming on this laptop though.


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Sager NP7250 Specifications:

  • Black Onyx
  • 12.1" WXGA (1280×800)
  • 1.73GHz Intel Celeron M processor 430 (Actually a 530) w/1,024k L2 On-die Cache
  • SiS M671 Integrated Video w/Up to 256MB Dynamic Video Memory
  • 512MB (1 SODIMM) DDR2/667 Memory (Later upgraded to 1GB)
  • 80GB SATA/150 Hard Drive at 5,400 RPM
  • Combo 8x8x6x4x Dual Layer DVD +/-R/RW 5x DVD-RAM 24x CD-R/RW Drive
  • 4-in-1 Memory Card Reader (MS/MSPRO/SD/MMC)
  • Built-in 802.11B+G Wireless LAN Card (It’s a Realtek RTL8187)
  • 4-cell Smart Li-ion Battery
  • Windows XP Home (I paid an extra ten dollars to get XP instead of Vista)
  • Price after shipping: $769.00

Reasons for Buying

I was looking for a small cheap laptop to take to university so I can surf the web or type in between classes. I had an Asus Eee PC pre-ordered (still do), but that was taking too long so when I found this laptop, I caved and had my parents order it as my high school graduation present. I’ll still get the Eee PC, but I probably won’t take it to school unless I want to attract some girls with its cuteness (It could happen).

I bought the notebook from PowerNotebooks.com. They were great to deal with and I would gladly buy from them again. The only complaint I have is that some of the specifications on their website were wrong. This kind of annoyed me, but I’m over it.

Build & Design

The first thing I noticed was the "piano paint" finish. Very shiny and pretty and all that. It has a very subtle sparkle to it. Lots of fingerprints show up on the glossy surface, but that was to be expected. The screen doesn’t flex much. I have to push pretty hard to get any ripples to appear on the screen. The hinge is pretty stiff and doesn’t wobble. It wobbles a lot less than my Mom’s Toshiba and about the same as my Dad’s dv2000. The laptop is quite small and light and very easy to carry around at school. Sure, it could be thinner and weigh less, but even with the Core 2 Duo options, it costs less than a thousand dollars.


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As for build quality, it’s not the best, but for the price it’s better than I expected. There’s a small problem with the right hinge latch not wanting to close as easily as the left one and when I received the notebook, there were some light scratches on the screen bezel. They’re not really noticeable if you’re not looking for them, but they’re still there. Also, the battery kinda jiggles a little bit in its slot. All of these are just minor annoyances, the worst of which being the scratches on the screen bezel.

Screen

The screen is very nice. I didn’t get any dead pixels, but then again, I’ve never actually seen a dead pixel on any LCD screen. Maybe I’m just lucky. The horizontal viewing angles are really good although the screen gets darker and reflects more light at steeper angles. The vertical viewing angles, however, aren’t so great. Still good, but not nearly as good as the horizontal viewing angles. Compared to my Mom’s Toshiba and my Dad’s HP, the Sager’s screen reflects a little bit less light.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The touchpad is nice, big, easy to use, and has an okay texture. That said, it’s a bit too rough. If I’m in a warm room and my finger gets a little sweaty, it can make the touchpad more difficult to use. It’s still relatively easy to use, just not as easy as it normally is. My Dad’s HP’s touchpad is way too slick. It’s like a sheet of ice or something. My Mom’s Toshiba, on the other hand, is slicker than the NP7250, but not too slick. I’ve never used it with a sweaty finger, but I would imagine it would be easier to use than the one on the NP7250. The touchpad is recessed very slightly. It’s easy to feel the edges of the touchpad, but it doesn’t feel like it’s in a three foot hole either.


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The buttons give a nice click and don’t feel flimsy at all. Like the touchpad, the keys are recessed slightly. It can make them harder to press if your trying to press the very edges of the keys.

The keyboard is good also. I was surprised at the stiffness of the keys. I was expecting something more flimsy. The keys do wobble a bit from side to side. This can be a problem if you’re a bad typer and don’t hit the keys in the middle. The keys can be harder to press if you’re pressing on the edges of the keys. I also wish it went closer to the edge of the laptop.

Speakers

Well what can I say? They’re laptop speakers. They are definitely loud enough, but the sound quality just isn’t there.

Processor and Performance

I wasn’t really worried about the processor not having enough power and I was right. The laptop performs even better than I expected. It does everything I need it to do without hanging or stuttering. The only time I noticed significant slowdown was when I enabled "smooth scrolling" in Firefox and "smooth images" in Adobe Reader 8. Of course, the nice XP installation that it came with didn’t hurt. When comparing the Super Pi results with those of other laptops, I noticed that the Celeron M outperformed a lot of higher clocked single core processors and even some dual core processors (although Super Pi only uses one core, so maybe that isn’t fair).

Next to the power button, there is a button with an M on it. The M stands for "Silent Mode". "Silent Mode" reduces fan speed and "may reduce system performance". The manual isn’t clear on what exactly "Silent Mode" does with the processor. Celerons don’t support SpeedStep so I’m not sure what it could be doing other than turning down the fan. It’s definitely doing something because the Super Pi scores are about a minute five seconds slower with "Silent Mode" enabled.

PowerNotebooks lists the processor as a Celeron M 430 but Windows was reporting it as a 530. After a quick look on Intel’s site, it seems the only difference is that the 530 is a 64-bit processor. Sure enough, a live cd of 64-bit Ubuntu boots up without a problem. PowerNotebooks has since corrected this on their website.

Benchmarks

Super Pi: 1m 44s (2m 50s with "Silent Mode")

HDTune results:


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Heat and Noise

The computer does get pretty hot on the left side, mostly on the bottom. It probably would run cooler with the Core 2 Duo processors, but $195 cooler? Probably not. After running Super Pi for ten minutes, the processor never got above 70 degrees Celsius. In "Quiet Mode" it never went above 75 degrees Celsius. It can be uncomfortable after a couple hours, but it’s certainly tolerable. I like to put it on my left leg so the left part of the laptop hangs off and doesn’t touch me.

The fan itself is quiet, quieter than my Mom’s Toshiba, but it runs constantly. In "Silent Mode" it’s virtually silent, as it should be.

Input and Output Ports

On the front of the laptop is the card reader, S/PDIF, microphone, and headphones. Cards stick out of the card reader a little bit, which I don’t like, but it’s not a big deal. I don’t have a way to test the S/PDIF or the microphone, but the headphones sound good. They don’t hiss or click, even when the hard drive is being accessed. They are a little heavy on the bass for some reason. I made sure all the equalizers I knew about in Windows were off, but it still did this. Maybe this is an attempt to make $10 earbuds sound good, but for people with good headphones it can be annoying. It wasn’t annoying to me because my Ultimate Ears Super.fi 3 headphones happen to be a little lacking in the bass and the laptop seemed to correct this perfectly. This was pure coincidence though.


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On the right is the CD drive, a usb port, and the modem. The CD drive is a little flimsy, but it’s not too bad. I wasn’t able to test the modem.


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On the left are two usb ports, the heat exhaust, VGA out, Ethernet, and AC power.


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Wireless

The wireless card actually didn’t work when I got the laptop. Windows tried to install the drivers, but it said something about the name being taken or something. I simply Googled the error message and found the solution. This was really more Windows’ fault rather than Sager’s, but it would be nice if the wireless drivers had been installed beforehand.

Battery

By far the worst part of the laptop is the battery. I only get about an hour and twenty minutes with WiFi on surfing the internet. The specifications page on PowerNotebooks.com had a battery life of two to two and half hours, but PowerNotebooks has since fixed this to say about an hour and a half. It’s only a four cell battery so I suppose it doesn’t get much better. The battery is light and I wouldn’t mind carrying a second battery, but it costs an extra hundred dollars.


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Something I think is worth mentioning is the NotebookReview.com review of the PortableOne UX. This notebook is remarkably similar to the NP7250 with the main differences being the Core 2 processor, the Intel graphics and the Intel wireless. In particular, I want to point out the battery. Like the NP7250, the PortableOne Ux comes with a four-cell, 2400mah battery. The reviewer of the PortableOne UX reported 2 hours of battery life with the four-cell battery. Maybe this can give us an idea of how much longer the battery would last in the NP7250 if one of the Core 2 Duo options is selected. I don’t know how much the different graphics and wireless cards would affect it though.

Operating System and Software

The first thing I did after booting it up and getting the wireless working was to remove all the crap that comes pre-installed. I was happy to see that only two things needed to be removed. One was a 30-day trial of Nero Essentials, the other was something called PowerDVD. I actually don’t think PowerDVD was a trial, but I removed it anyway. The Windows installation is the best I’ve ever seen. Granted, I haven’t seen that many, but it’s way faster than both my desktop with a 2GHz processor and my Mom’s Toshiba with a 1.6GHz Core Duo T2050.

The graphics card doesn’t have any Linux drivers, so I didn’t do anything with Linux beyond running a few live CDs to see if the processor was actually 64-bit. PCLinuxOS 2007 actually got the wireless card working without any trouble, unlike Ubuntu. I spent about an hour just trying to get the resolution correct. The Windows installation is actually good enough that I don’t mind not being able to use linux.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m quite pleased with my decision. The Sager NP7250 is a great choice for people looking for good a 12" laptop but don’t want to pay more than $1,000. I suppose I was taking a bit of a risk by buying a notebook without seeing any real reviews about it, but I was hoping that Sager’s good reputation would apply to this laptop as well.

The NP7250 indeed deserves Sager’s good reputation. It looks great and has very few problems with build quality. The only real problem I have with the notebook is the poor battery life. Everything else are just minor annoyances and there aren’t enough of them to bother me.

Pros

  • Price!
  • Many configuration options
  • Looks great!
  • Small and light (for the price)
  • Well installed OS with little bloatware
  • Good build quality
  • Nice screen that doesn’t reflect as much light as other laptops

Cons

  • Battery life
  • Heat (may be better with Core 2 options)
  • Keyboard can be hard to type on if you have sloppy form
  • Screen could be a little brighter with a bit more contrast

Images courtesy of PowerNotebooks.com


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