Widescreen notebook solutions are becoming more popular for general consumers, which is evident looking at the newest offerings from Dell or HP/Compaq. And as far as other OEMs go, there are few new players entering the market as well. In the past few years, we have started to see large motherboard manufacturers join the fray of OEM notebook manufacturers, case in point the big three MB guys: Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI.
Asus has a much better profile in the notebook market than the other two companies we mentioned. They built up their reputation by following through on the notebook announcements in their roadmap and press releases, and by releasing a reasonable variety of quality notebooks. Gigabyte seems to be taking a page from Asus' playbook and has been taking the notebook market a bit more seriously over the past two quarters. Gigabyte has since brought to market more than one design (seen in the NB-1401), while MSI is still finding its way.
New notebooks aren't introduced as frequently as say a new line of motherboards, but in the last quarter we have definitely seen an increase in the number of new releases. In the past few weeks we have seen quite a variety of new notebooks for what some people refer to as the "school year" refresh. We plan to incrementally notch up our reservoir of mobile reviews in the coming weeks / months because of this trend, and now have Gigabyte's G-Max N411 in the labs...
•_Designed for Intel Pentium-M/ Intel 90nm Dothan Pentium-M with 2MB On-Die L2 Cache processors
•_Supports 400MHz FSB
•_Intel 855GME/ICH4-M Chipset
•_Two 200-pin SODIMM sockets
•_Supports DDR 333/266/200 Unbuffered Non-ECC memory
•_Supports maximum memory capacity up to 2GB
• Intel Extreme Graphics 2 technology
- 32-bit 3D/2D graphics with frequency up to 250MHz
- Bi-Cubic Filter
- Video Mixer Rendering
- AGP 4x (discrete graphics only)
- Supports Intel Stable Image Technology
- Supports Intel Dual-Frequency Graphics Technology (DFGT)
- Supports Display Power Saving Technology (DPST)
• Intel ICH4-M South Bridge:
- 2 x DMA 100/66
- 40GB/60GB HDD
- Mashita/Panasonic UJDA755 DVD-ROM/CD-RW
•_Realtek 10/100 Mbps Ethernet
•_Intel Pro/Wireless 2200 (802.11b/g) Wireless Lan
•_56K v.92 Fax/modem
•_14.1" WXGA Glare Type TFT LCD (native 1280 x 768)
External I/O Connectors
Measuring in at 12.8" x 9.6" x 0.9"~1.1" and weighing in at 5.1 pounds, the N411 is not a terribly small notebook. Gigabyte's design favors those that need a desktop replacement notebook without the power level of a desktop. The use of Centrino parts gives the N411 the advantage of being able to travel, but its limitation is in its size, which gives off a feel that you can't use it easily during transport from location A to location B. Granted, it is easier to lug around than a Dell 8600 and the like, but it lacks the same mobility as the diminutive HP DV1000.