Zoostorm Touchscreen Laptop 7270-9013

zoostorm

zoostorm

Introduction and design

At the bottom-end of the laptop market, manufacturers can sometimes find it quite challenging to change the status quo and innovate. Sometimes, it takes courage to move away from boring blueprints and try something new, especially when you have much, much bigger competitors to face.

This is exactly what the Zoostorm 7270-9013, priced at a couple of pence under £200, is trying to do – the UK-based vendor could certainly have chosen a more memorable name, but that doesn’t diminish the appeal of what’s on offer here.

Design

The Zoostorm 7270 is one of the smallest laptops we’ve reviewed recently, at 207 x 287mm, it sits comfortably on an A4 sheet but its thickness – just under 28mm – betrays its heft. At 1.4kg, it is a relatively heavy piece of electronics, heavier than say, the Dell XPS 13.

We liked the pseudo-brushed metal look of the laptop cover which bears the Zoostorm logo.

Open it and the first thing that strikes you is how small the touchpad is – it is barely larger than a business card and is certainly the weakest link of this laptop’s design.

It is split between the larger tracking area and a bar that combines both right and left buttons. Using the trackpad proved to be a pain, not only because of the size but also because of its lack of precision – when it worked.

Yes, there were even instances where the pointer just froze and was unresponsive, or would record double-taps or no taps at all when we tapped once.

This proved to be frustrating with the keyboard being an equally poor input peripheral. The keys suffered from the dreaded “scrabble” syndrome – in other words, they protrude far too much from the keyboard surface.

Add the fact that the keys are not solidly attached to the keyboard base and you get the perfect combination for a wobbly, uninspiring and mushy typing experience.

That’s made worse by the fact that the layout of the keys is just all over the place: one function key is placed above the arrow keys and the shift key is barely bigger than any letter keys.

But it’s not all bad. The power button on the Zoostorm 7270 is elongated and stands out with a bright blue light. Though some might find it distracting, it is certainly a preferable option compared to the recessed power button on the XPS 13.

Also, thumbs up for activity/status lights (battery, hard drive), and keeping the function keys as the default option – this means that you will have to use combo keys to access multimedia functionality (brightness, volume and so forth), but those using F2 in Excel will appreciate it greatly.

On the left of the laptop, you will find a Kensington lock, the power connector, the Ethernet port, VGA and HDMI connectors and two USB ports.

The right edge of the laptop contains a single USB port and two audio connectors. Note that these are only USB 2.0 ports, there’s no USB 3.0 here. Overall, there’s an excellent array of connectors on offer, better than most compact laptops on the market.

The display, with its 11.6-inch diagonal and a 1366 x 768 resolution, is quite reflective as one would expect, because of its touchscreen capabilities. This feature also adds a few extra millimeters to the screen’s thickness, which makes it less prone to wobbling.

However, it does shift the centre of gravity of the machine which makes it easier for the laptop to topple over, especially when you use it on your lap.

Compared to the Z3735x or the ubiquitous N2840, it should be much faster despite sporting only two cores. Clocked at 1.8GHz, it has 2MB cache and dissipates up to 17W.

Its integrated graphics subsystem (HD Graphics clocked at 350MHz) however is likely to be its Achilles’ heel in the benchmarks – more on that later.

The second surprise is the 4GB RAM bundled, rather than 2GB usually found on laptops of this price. There’s only one DIMM socket, one which supports up to 8GB modules – so you will have to swap the memory modules to upgrade.

Then there’s the hard disk drive, a 500GB, 2.5-inch hard drive spinning at 5400RPM, again, far bigger than what is usually presented to us at the low-end of the market.

But that’s not all: the Zoostorm’s Ethernet port is a GbE affair, instead of the usual 10/100Mbps found on most entry-level models.



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