Gigabyte M912 Tablet Netbook Review
Gigabyte may be the only netbook player that has gone into the tablet form factor with the M912. In this review, we’ll look into how the Gigabyte m912 works as a tablet netbook.
For complete specs, price and unboxing pics check out this earlier entry about the Gigabyte M912. The netbook runs on Windows Vista Basic Home and one would think that the default 1GB RAM or the Atom processor might have a hard time running with it. Actually, it’s a surprise the laptop was responsive and runs fairly well — it’s not sluggish at all. That’s probably because there aren’t a lot of applications loaded in the system yet. Normal boot time is around 40 seconds.
Here are some of the highlights of this tablet netbook:
- Touch Screen interface. Those who fancy touch screen interface will like the m912. The screen display is very responsive to finger gestures (pretty accurate too) and it even comes with its own stylus. That said, the screen feels like it’s covered with a thin layer of plastic instead of tempered glass sometime you get the impression that it could easily break or something.
- Higher screen resolution. The display is only 8.9″ inches in diagonal but can handle a resolution of up to 1280×768 at 32-bit — the highest I’ve seen so far for a netbook. Other supported resulutions are 800×600, 1024×768, 1280×600 and 1280×720.
- Simple and elegant design. I’m not a great fan of silver but the outer glossy, black finish is very appealing. Of course, the glossy finish is a smudge-magnet.
- 180-degree swivel. Rotate the screen at a complete 180 degrees around then fold it down and you’re in the tablet form. The hinge is made up of hard plastic but is sturdy enough not to get you worried it would break off easily.
- Great on storage and expansion slots. The review unit I have has 160GB HDD but they say there’s an option for 250GB. Memory is also at 1GB but can be easily upgraded to 2GB. And unlike other netbooks which makes it hard to upgraded the system, Gigabyte places them very accessible at the back just like regular laptops. Imagine with the MSI, the technician had to pry open the keyboard apart just to add a RAM chip. With Gigabyte, the HDD and RAM slots are a few screws away. Expansion slots are complete as well – SD card reader, 3 USB ports and an Express Card slot.
Of course, there were some hitches too:
- A little on the heavy side. The Gigabyte m912 is strangely heavy for its size. At 1.3kg (2.87 lbs), this 9-incher is almost as heavy as a 13″ Macbook Air. I thought it was the battery at first but it’s only 4-cell which lasts about 3 hours. The additional weight would have been forgivable if the battery was rated at 6-cells.
- Small keyboard. The size of the keys reminded me of my old Asus Eee PC 704. It’s bearable but I wish they used a few more centimeters of the real estate to dedicate to the keyboard.
- Unbelievably hot. I’m still perplexed why this unit is hotter than normal. SpeedFan registers an average core temperature of around 58 – 62 degrees centigrade on regular use and 56 degrees on idle. The exhaust fan is a little noise too.
Some unconventional ideas I’d like to throw in. Flip this netbook into the tablet position, strap it in your car’s sun visor and you have a portable DivX/MPEG4 player in your car. Or how about installing Google Maps and plugging in a GPS module via the Express Card slot for some nifty GPS-assisted road trip? *heh*
Gigabyte did a better than average job with the M912 tablet netbook. The heat issue needs some looking into though. It’s the only one out there in its class so we can’t make much of a comparison. Still, where else can you get a light and compact, sub-30k tablet?