Gigabyte's departure from its motherboard line is somewhat of a success; they have brought out a decent notebook in the G-Max N411. However, Gigabyte has a few hurdles to overcome to make it as a notebook manufacturer and to compete with the likes of other OEMs, like Asus, or the large ODMs. Beginning with the N411, the number one thing we want to see is a bigger touchpad and bigger touchpad buttons.
The G-Max N411 has a feel that fits into the multimedia format more than anything else, but practically, it functions better as a good lightweight mobile workstation. On the multimedia side, there are no dedicated multimedia buttons for play/pause/etc., nor is there an emphasis on the multimedia experience, minus the "glare type" ultra-bright display. For general users, this notebook makes a great platform to work with when away from your desktop machine, particularly since it only weighs about 5 pounds. We should note that with its 855GME chipset, this notebook uses Intel's Extreme Graphics 2, and isn't designed for those interested in gaming.
According to Gigabyte, they won't be selling this notebook directly to end users. Their strategy is to offer it as an OEM solution or barebones solution to other system vendors. We can say with confidence that it won't be Dell, HP/Compaq, or IBM that will be adopting this design, however. The big three like to design their own notebooks and will contract with ODM builders instead. The likely brands that will consider Gigabyte's design will be Voodoo, Alienware, Sager and Hypersonic, which means that the quantities sold will be relatively low. Priced at about $1899 (our sample minus Bluetooth), the Gigabyte G-Max N411 could also use a price-drop to attract larger companies.
We's also like to note that only recently has Gigabyte taken up the notebook mantle. Their first notebook, the NB-1401, was actually manufactured by FIC, and it was identical to FIC's model in every way, minus the engraved Chinese "ji" symbol on top of the casing (translated to "extreme"). What we have been seeing from Gigabyte now is a sampling of original notebook designs. The thing to keep in mind is that unlike Asus, Gigabyte and MSI are currently middle-men. They still contract out to companies like Arima, Wistron, Compal, Uniwell, Samsung, Quanta, etc. to manufacturer their notebooks. Due to this fact, Asus has a bit of a leg up over MSI and Gigabyte because they are manufacturing their own notebooks and bringing them directly to end users and the OEM market. Gigabyte has shown some promise, however, and we look forward to Gigabyte's future mobile offerings. In its current state, we're giving the Gigabyte G-Max N411 a 7 on the Heat Meter.