Construction: Field Tested (cont.)
Keyboard – Because this is a whitebox solution, we didn't expect Gigabyte to build it with a unique keyboard. While the keyboard gives you a good feel for tactile feedback, there is noticeably less of a "click" when compared to the notebooks from IBM, Dell, and HP. After prolonged use, you probably won't get that feel unless you switch over to/from a tier 1 notebook maker.
The only three problems we have with the layout are, one, that the home/end/page up/page down keys are all clustered on the right hand side. While this means you don't have to stretch your fingers to access them, you don't get the same feel for the notebook, because their placement is counterintuitive. The second is more of a by product of the first, as the delete key and insert key are in the upper right hand corner and force some finger stretching. "Correct" placement is debatable, but generally speaking, it should be a three by two button arrangement (home/end/page up/page down/delete/insert) in the upper right hand corner . The third problem we have is more common, as Gigabyte has incorrectly placed the control key to the right of the function key in the lower left hand corner.
One of our size complaints isn't so much about the keyboard, as it is about the design of the notebook. For whatever reason, Gigabyte has spaced the keyboard closer to the front of the notebook, which gives you less space to rest your palms and gives you a general feel of "cramped space."
LEDs – There is only one LED strip directly above the keyboard which include LEDs for (left to right): power status (green when active, orange on standby), battery status (green when full and orange when charging), hard drive activity (blinking green when active), wireless activity (orange when active), num lock (green when active), caps lock (green when active), and scroll lock (green when active).
TouchPad & Buttons -Though we already mentioned the keyboard being spaced too close to the front of the notebook, this also affects the use of the touchpad. Basically, the lack of space gives the user less room to switch between the keyboard and touchpad. Ideally, Gigabyte should space both further north, spaced apart a bit more, and enlarge the size of the touchpad. For such a large notebook, this is probably once of the smallest touchpads we have ever seen. There certainly is a large amount of real estate, but there is a lack of utilization.
Speakers & Microphone – Unfortunately, there is no microphone on the N411, which is too bad for those that like audio messaging and the like. The speakers on the N411 can get loud enough so that the room one over can hear what you are listening to easily. Turning up the volume didn't give us any specific cases of distortion, but the speakers on our Dell 8600 are still sound better to our ears.