Battery life? What battery life?
Most serious gaming laptops have dismal battery life. The EON17-S is no exception, lasting just 2.5 hours. Forget about using it on the plane, unless you're in a First Class seat with AC at hand. You could bring an extra battery pack — it's easy enough to swap it out for a fresh without need of a screwdriver — but that will pile yet another pound to an already heavy load. Most people will just wait til they're settled in a hotel room.
No try-before-you-buy, but support's great
As with most boutique builders, Origin custom-assembles your machine when you order it — the company doesn't sell at retail or carry much in the way of finished-goods inventory. That means you can't head down to your local Best Buy and try a system on for size. So you should be aware that Origin's return policy is less forgiving than some: It assesses a 15-percent restocking fee, and you're expected to pay for shipping. Some custom shops — including Alienware, CyberPC, and Falcon Northwest — don't charge a restocking fee at all (none of the companies I spoke with will issue refunds for installed software, custom paint jobs or decals, or any other extras).
Once you take the plunge, Origin delivers great tech support — around the clock and for the life of the machine. When I called, Origin's reps did a first-rate job of answering my questions. Having a knowledgeable tech take remote control of your PC over the Internet and troubleshoot it is a vastly superior experience to having a know-nothing read questions from a support tree before they ultimately transfer you to someone at a higher level.
PCWorld awarded the earlier EON 17-S four stars, but the competition wasn't as fierce then. This time around, an Alienware 17 came into the lab about the same time as Origin's machine, and it performed slightly better on many benchmarks. Dell's machine also feels more tightly put together — and it cost less (it's outfitted with a lesser CPU and it has only one SSD, but it packs the same GPU). The full Alienware review will be published in a few days.
Having said that, 3.5 stars on our scale is a solid "buy" recommendation. If you want the custom treatment, Origin continues to deliver the goods with the EON 17-S.
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