Don't worry if you haven't heard of Zepto -- most people haven't. It's a big outfit, though. This Danish laptop-maker has grown since 2002 to become the self-proclaimed largest local manufacturer of laptop PCs in Europe, supplying machines to 19 countries. Its latest effort, the Nox A15, is part of its 'performance' range, and features high-spec components and looks to die for. Prices start from around £932.
The Nox A15 is an attractive beast. The entire thing has a beautiful matte black finish and curved edges that make it reminiscent of the old black MacBook. The lid has a Zepto logo printed in an off-white colour, but it's so understated, we actually prefer it to the big back-lit apple on the MacBook.
The Nox A15 lets itself down slightly when you open the lid. The keyboard has the same matte black finish, but the keyboard itself jars slightly with the overall design because it's a slightly different shade. This aside, the machine is still attractive. We like the indented mouse trackpad, the rocker button used as selector buttons and the fact that the A15 has an overall minimalist feed.
Round the left, the Nox A15 has an HDMI port, two USB ports and a couple of audio ports for headphones and a mic. The former doubles up as a SPDIF and emits an eerie red light, which makes it easy to insert jacks in the dark. Next to this, there's a rocker switch for adjusting the volume, plus ExpressCard/34 and memory card reader slots. On the right, there's a DVD rewriter drive, a switch enabling or disabling Wi-Fi, another USB port, Ethernet, and an aerial port for the built-in Freeview TV tuner.
Unlike many manufacturers, Zepto allows users to configure its laptops before buying. As a result, there are a number of ways you can tweak the A15. Our sample came with an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 running at 2.26GHz, plus 4GB of DDR2 800MHz memory. However, for an extra £62 you can step up to a 2.4GHz P8600, or for £157 more, a 2.53GHz P9500 monster with 6MB of L2 cache.
Zepto has chosen an Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics adaptor for the Nox A15. This, you'll be pleased to hear, is rather potent and won't shy away from running the latest games -- although probably not at the highest resolutions. The A15 comes with a 1,280x800-pixel panel as standard, but if you require more screen real estate, you can get yourself a 1,680x1,050-pixel panel for £62.
Storage varies from machine to machine. Ours came with a 320GB 5,400rpm SATA disk, but Zepto gives you the option of a slightly faster 7,200rpm 250GB drive for an extra £81, or a 5,400rpm 500GB drive for the same price. A variety of solid state disks up to 250GB in size are also available, as is a Blu-ray drive priced at £147.
Potential buyers should note that Zepto does not supply an operating system by default. You'll have to spend at least £50 on Windows Vista Home Basic, or £80 on Vista Home Premium. Should you wish to take full advantage of the 4GB of RAM, you'll need to spend £168 on Vista Ultimate 64-bit.
Given the fact the Nox A15 is built by a Danish company, customer support -- or lack of it -- was a something we had to consider. Zepto has an 0845 number that redirects users to the company's Danish call centre. But unfortunately, the first time we tried to call this number it rang without an answer. If you're not tech-savvy enough to solve hardware of software issues that arise during your ownership of the machine, Zepto may not be the brand for you.