Maingear 13.3" Clutch 13 Ultraportable Notebook

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The 13.3" Clutch 13 doesn't really resemble any other ultraportables that we have seen. While it's generally the same size as most in its class, the actual design is refreshingly different. There's a textured plastic grid on the lid, with a subtle, darkened Maingear logo. The charcoal color is accented with silver edges, and the entire machine is made of a matte material. This is great in our opinion; it cuts down on the fingerprints.


The only place that fingerprints will still cling is on the 13.3" LCD. It's a glossy 1366x768 pixel panel, and while viewing angles are superior to most 13.3" displays that we have seen on similar notebooks, it's no less glossy. Also, there's very little recline here. It will tilt back maybe 20 degrees beyond straight-up, rather than near-flat like some ultraportables. This could be bothersome in certain awkward positions, such as when you're using a machine in a cramped seat and need the extra recline.


The unit is quite lightweight; the 3.3 pounds are evenly distributed, and it feels very sleek. Since there's only a 4-cell battery, there's no extra bulge in the rear. The LCD hinge is stiff, but we like how it holds in place without fail. The underside of the machine is also of interest; Maingear makes most of the major components very accessible with only a screw and a plastic cover between you and a component upgrade.


Maingear has also bucked two very prominent PC trends. First, there's no chiclet keyboard. It's a standard sized edge-to-edge keyboard. We like this style; there's more real estate per key this way. Second, there's just a single sticker on the palm rest. There's a Core i3 sticker, but that's it. Compared to Asus machines, the palm rest looks sleek and clean.


There's a dedicated Wireless On/Off button and power button on each side of the status LEDs above the keyboard. On the left side, there's a 3-in-1 SD card reader, one USB 2.0 port, a VGA output and a Kensington lock slot. On the right side there's audio in/out ports, another USB 2.0 port, an eSATA port, a full-size HDMI output, a Gigabit Ethernet connector and an AC input jack.


No ports are on the front or the rear. Maingear, unlike most companies selling ultraportables, includes their own docking station with this notebook, making it easier to double as a desktop replacement. It's hard to say how many people will actually be interested in such an accessory, but it definitely works well if you're in the market. And considering how few ultraportables are on the market these days that support a proprietary docking station, this is one of the better choices.



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