Venom Blackbook Zero 14 laptop review
An ultraportable that competes with the big boys by focusing on what’s important to a notebook
- Solid and well built
- Fast in 2D applications
- Good battery
- Matte screen
- Not ideal for multimedia
Venom removes all the bells and whistles leaving you with a fast, reliable, 14-inch laptop that you can work on all day.
The Blackbook Zero 14 played our 1080p video for 6hrs 38mins before shutting down so we'd expect it to last a full working day when performing less-constant, less-power-hungry office tasks. It also ran the intensive PC Mark battery test for an impressive 5hrs 2mins. So you'll be able to use this remotely and unplugged for serious processing for a good few hours.
Venom also makes the decision to include a second power supply. Apparently it's a frequently-requested accessory and so Venom provides a power cord that could be built-into a home/office environment plus a second to reside in a laptop bag without being forgotten. Sensible.
Warranty and other features
In the box is a one-year, one-PC subscription to Norton Internet Security – that's the one we use and so we approve. There's also a full-restore USB key for if everything goes wrong and requires the whole computer to be reset.
At the top is an HD webcam with dual digital microphones. There are two "Boom Box" speakers in the base. We don't know much about their specs but know that there's very little bass response, treble gets tinny quickly and there's no mid-range – it's a far cry from HP's Bang & Olufsen-tuned units. Once again, this is no multimedia machine.Read more: 5 Best Australian Laptop Deals
The Warranty is stated as being One Year "Face 2 Face" (which means you can take it to an authorised retailer) with 120-days technical support. Otherwise it's a standard Pick Up & Return affair. The company is counting on building quality PCs that won’t require much support in the first place (a significant hit to their bottom line) so, as a smaller player, it's particularly in their interest not ship out fault-prone equipment. You can extend this warranty to three years (two years technical support) for a not-insubstantial $399.
There are far more bells and whistles on competitors' laptops (and even Venom's own, non-Zero range) – not least glossy touchscreens, faster processors, more RAM, 3D cameras, better speakers but what Venom is offering is different. It performs 2D computing tasks fast and reliably and with decent battery life. While we've also seen 13-inch laptops outperform it for performance and battery they tend to come at a significant premium.Read more: Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
This SKU comes in at $1,699 (or US$1,099) though the range stretches from $1,499 (US$999) to $2,549 (US$1,549) depending on what size hard drive you want married to what speed of processor. That's reasonable for a 14-inch machine. Most competition will be coming from 13-inch models from the likes of Dell, HP and Acer, all of which cost hundreds of dollars more, albeit with more features and better performance. But on the flip-side, there’s less to go wrong, here and it's got it where it matters.
We called this a BMW M Division-like product earlier but it's probably more of a Lotus – hand built locally, taking on the mass-produced, bells-and-whistles big boys by concentrating on a few primary principles and then selling at a lower price. If that sounds attractive to you then Venom will likely prove to be a rewarding brand to buy in to.
Join the PC World New Zealand newsletter!
Latest News Articles
- More iPad screen sizes unlikely to stop slump
- Android struggling in tablets as Windows 10 2-in-1s come on strong
- Samsung unveils Galaxy Book, a Windows 10 tablet aimed at the Surface-curious
- Everything we think we know about Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3
- Lenovo's ThinkPad P71 will work with HTC, Oculus VR headsets
Most Popular Articles
- 1 LG 2017 OLED and Super LED UHD 4K TVs: Hands-on review
- 2 Hisense displays successors to amazing Series 7 ULED - Series 8 and 9
- 3 Dell's wild 8K monitor goes on sale with a just-as-stunning price tag
- 4 Microsoft expands connected car push with patent licensing
- 5 Look before you leap: 4 hard truths about IoT
- Old foes call a truce as Google and Microsoft reach patent agreement
- BlackBerry unveils first security-focused Android smartphone
- Lumia 640: Nothing budget about Microsoft’s latest handset
- Intel Core i3 vs i5 vs i7: find out which cpu is better
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?