Virgin Media Freedom Mini-Laptop review

Virgin has jumped on the netbook giveaway bandwagon with its latest packages. But what sort of machine do you get as part of the deal?

Microsoft Works Suite comes pre-installed in the system, which is no Microsoft Word, but it is good to have tools installed so you can get down to work straight away without the hassle of installation.

The base of the machine does heat up quite quickly as expected but never reaches an uncomfortable level and the fan placed subtly on the back makes next to no noise.

The major let down of this Virgin netbook though was the battery life. The joy of a netbook over a laptop is supposed to be a longer lasting battery for when you are out on the move. However the three cell battery lasted just under three hours and 45 minutes in our light use tests, while heavy use didn't even give us two hours.

The final problem is how you go about getting the machine. It is free from Virgin Media if you sign up to one of its 24 month contracts, which sounds pretty good. Prices start at 31 per month including 10Mbps broadband and landline phone. However if you add it up it means the cheapest possible price for a deal that includes the mini-laptop is 744. At least it comes with a packaged dongle for mobile web access.

Overall, we'd have to say what when you take this machine out of the box it looks sleek and above average, but this impression falls down when you get down to using it.

The only way we would suggest getting this is if you are already planning on getting a Virgin Media package, or indeed already have one existing customers can also apply.

However, if you want machine for regular use that's more than a distinctly average, we say go out and spend the money yourself.

Verdict

The Freedom is a cheap and cheerful freebie that’s a good bonus for Virgin customers but if you need a netbook for your day to day business don’t go signing your life away just for this. Just put your hand in your pocket and buy a higher spec design.

Processor: 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270

Memory: 1GB DDR2 RAM

Storage: 160GB hard disk

Graphics: Intel GMA 950 graphics

Display: 10 inch 1024x600 TFT

Ports: 2 x USB, LAN, SD card reader, VGA, 10/100 Ethernet

Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wireless, 0.3MP webcam

OS: Windows XP Home

Warranty: 6 months for Battery, 1yr for machine

Dimensions: 266 x 182 x 29mm (WHD)

Weight: 1.1kg

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