Saturday, December 20, 2008

BenQ Joybook Lite Part 2

If this world has only 1 chick, every guy would think she is the best since there's no benchmark and comparison. Likewise, solo performance by BenQ Joybook Lite U101 on its own does not let us know how's its "performance", so I'm gonna to make a comparison with my lovely MSI Wind U100 just like what I did with HP Mini 2133.

Clearly, BenQ is so kiasu to increment the model number by 1, U101 compare to Wind's U100. But this doesn't count into the competition though. Hehe...

Let's move on to the main course.

Over the top...


The official spec for Joybook and Wind are 258(L) x 189(D) x 28-32(H)mm and 260 x 180 x 19-31.5mm respectively. Visually the L dimension is identical, 2mm doesn't make obvious difference.But quite a lot of difference by eye measurement for 9mm in D dimension...


Side by side for H dimension, not much difference...


I forgot to take photo on the screen size comparison but I compared during the PC Fair, Wind has 0.1" longer diagonally, somehow Joybook is still taller than Wind...


Back to back...


Joybook design is very practical and handy with 2 compartments for upgradeable components, the memory RAM and the optional Solid State Disk SSD. Compare to Wind, I have to open barely the entire housing to upgrade the RAM or the harddisk. I certainly love the SSD optional upgrade, I would say it is the best feature among other netbooks (and notebooks too!) which none offer 2 storage bays including Wind. When SSD has mass production and the price drops within the reasonable price per size GB, you can opt for one to load it with your Operating System and use the mechanical SATA harddisk solely for storage purpose. Advantage is you don't have to reinstall OS if the harddisk fails.

Now the battery size...


Wind's battery doubles the size fo Joybook's but the capacity is 200mAh lower than Joybook's 2400mAh. Both are 3 cells and Joybook's delivers 26.64 Whr efficiency whereas Wind's 3-cell with 2200mAH delivers 24.42 Whr. From my friend's experience, practically Joybook with XP Home offers 2.5 hours of usage and my cousin's Wind with XP Professional flats after slightly more than 2 hours. However, it's not an apple to apple comparison 'cause the power scheme (i.e. brightness) and peripheral usage (i.e. wifi) might not be the same.

On the screen, Wind has wider tilting angle which may be good for viewing if you have the netbook on the lap...


On the keyboard, Wind has bigger keys on the first row from top (ESC, F1, F2...) and the remaining rows are identical in size...


Practically, I prefer Joybook's keyboard over Wind's. This is the closer look of Joybook's keyboard...


(click to enlarge)

This is the closer of Wind's...


(click to enlarge)

I like the position of the Fn key on Joybook than MSI's and also the full size keys for , . / and the direction keys. The small right Shift key on Joybook doesn't have any impact on me as I habitually use the left CTRL and Shift keys but the small , . and / keys on Wind led me pressing the wrong key (, or .) occasionally. Big direction keys is a plus, comfortably I can play some arcade games like Pac Man and my old time favorite, Digger.

On the other hand, there are some weird setup in Joybook's keyboard. Do you notice the F1 key is not adjacent to ESC key at first row from top? Typically the ` key is the first key at second row follow by numeric keys. So some may need to adjust the typing habit to remember that the first key at second row is numeric number 1 and the second key is 2 not 1. The other discovery on the keyboard layout was, one would need to press Fn + Del key for print screen function, if one uses that key often. Contrary, some may prefer this arrangement if they frequently use Numlock with only one press on Joybook, whereas it requires combination with Fn key on Wind.

What about the touch pad? Here is the width measurement of Joybook...


2.15". What about Wind?


A width of 2". A mere 0.15" difference. Since I do not use the Joybook for long, can't comment if that makes much difference in scrolling and hovering. But I believe the bigger the pad, the better ergonomic score it is.

Beside the easy-access compartments for RAM and SSD, here is another easy access compartment that makes upgrading Joybook a joyful work...


Remove the battery exposes 2 hidden features on Joybook. Can you see the internal SATA harddisk on the right? With a simple screw you can just pull out the SATA harddisk and replace it with a bigger and better drive...


Cool huh? As far as I know (from my discovery on other netbooks), I think this is the easiest way to upgrade a harddisk in netbook range, I did not check on HP 1001TU and Dell Mini 12 though. Again, with all these convenient accesses, I just think that MSI needs to employ better designer to design their product housing. Perhaps MSI is inexperience on this as it was founded for manufacturing PC components like mobo, graphic card etc which has no casing or housing requirement.

Move on to the left, what is this tiny slot for? A closer look at the symbol...


The truth reveals...


Slot in a SIM card and you get 3G HSDPA or even 3.5G HSUPA connection!! Read on. ;)

Launch the 3G modem software pre-installed with the Joybook, waited and...


(click to enlarge)

No 3G modem detected. Hehe...

This early batch of Joybook (in Malaysian market) does not come with 3G capability, this might be due to excessive legal approvals in Malaysia is required for telecommunication devices. You'd know, this is BullehLand, such approvals may take centuries to finally sign off. So removing the 3G capability from the early batch to take a piece of pie from the market could be the wisest business strategy. Anyhow, Joybook has been designed to cater such feature in near future. I was told by the PC Fair dealer (I think they are BenQ authorized distributor, not only retailer) that the next release of Joybook will come with this feature and the planned launch date is February 2009. So, if you are not urgently needed a netbook and you have an unlimited data package with your service provider, perhaps you could just wait for a few more months, and possibly you may have more options like MSI U120H.

Boot into the OS, the Windows XP Home comes with SP3 which makes life easier that you don't have to upgrade yourself...


You can see that, 2GB RAM is detected even the total physical is 2.5GB RAM that you saw in the BIOS screen. The 160GB harddisk has been partitioned to system and data drive, C and D respectively with plenty of rooms in system drive for you to load your software/programs...


Again, another convenience to the consumers that you don't have to reinstall OS or repartition the harddisk with thrid party utility software since XP does not come with repartition feature like Vista does. A total of 136GB of user usable disk space. The missing disk space is used as a hidden partition for system recovery.

Let's check further for graphic card. On Joybook...


On Wind...


Similar chipset but Wind doubles the graphic memory size of Joybook's. This isn't an important one if you just use Joybook for internet activities like email and surfing, otherwise Wind is better choice if you do play games. Some enthusiasts loaded Command & Conquer and War Craft onto Wind with success story.

What about Joybook's LED screen vs. Wind's or other's LCD screen? This is the supported mode on Joybook...


This is on Wind...


Joybook's LED has only 576 pixels compare to the standard LCD with 600 pixels for most of the netbooks, and this is why it's only 10.1" than Wind's 10.2". Anyway, not much difference though, may be you will need to scroll additional 1 or 2 lines on Joybook. And I just realized there's another issue with Windows XP on all netbooks, not only on Joybook. Since the screen is small your Start Menu may multi-fold like this...


Imagine you have tonnes of programs installed or with tonnes of shortcuts in the Start menu, I just wonder would the Start Menu extend from left to the right end of the screen and then layer over the first fold? That's interesting to find out. Hehe... And you have no such issue with Vista...


The bundled software sometimes do add values to the purchase and influence the final decision. Joybook comes with a good camera software, the Arcsoft Webcam Companion 3 and Magic-i Visual Effects 2. This is so far the complete camera software suite I've ever seen on a netbook. Wind, Asus 1000H, Dell Mini and HP Mini do not bundle with such suite, perhaps due to cost consideration or it's not pre-installed in the demo unit but come in CD...


That's how Monalisa looks like when she blinks her eyes. Hehe... It's me with the avatar effect. Hihi...

The last piece to review on Joybook is its performance but too bad, I did not have any practical info on this 'cause it would not be a fair comparison for Joybook and Wind since both are on different OS. The only info was its boot up time which took not more than 2 minutes for the factory loaded XP Home with Norton Internet Security and some messenger software like YM set to start when Windows starts. Quite impressive to me.

In a nutshell, I think I would go for Joybook if I have not bought my Wind. With the same spec, but with improved housing for easy upgrade and durable, SSD definitely a plus and the keyboard layout that fits my typing habit as well as the camera software suite. Furthermore, I believe I would get better technical support and warranty as BenQ has better distributorship and more established support center in Malaysia. Of course I still love my Wind and it still never fails me and serves me well, and I am a loyal guy. :P May be the only reason to keep myself away from Joybook is I don't want to be called Ah Ben... Q. Haha.

Oh, come to the pricing. My friend got an offer of RM1799 cash and carry, inclusive of a package of free gift (mug, lanyard etc), free upgrade to 2GB RAM and free 120GB 2.5" external harddisk. The best deal during the PC Fair when we surveyed for all netbooks. You may try your luck at Thunder Match in Low Yat IT Mall.

EnJOY your netBOOK!!