Friday, 3 June 2011

Review : 1Malaysia Netbook

The government has started a scheme offering netbooks to families with incomes of below RM3000. It is purposed to help recipients study smarter. Wonder how these netbooks are of help since it comes with no educational software whatsoever. The only productivity softwares found pre-installed on these netbooks are Microsoft Word and Excel. Other than the two mentioned, you're practically looking at an empty copy of Windows.

Recipient must also subscribe to broadband or have a pre-existing broadband connection. The minimum required is a Streamyx Zone ID, which will cost RM25/month. The broadband package offered is RM60 per month, with free WiFi modem as well. Hey, thought this scheme was for families with low income and they are expecting us to fork out extra money? Considering that it has nothing inside that is of help to studies except Word and Excel, at least with an internet connection, the students can stay on WikiPedia and read up or of course reroute to Facebook at times.

Okay let's get on to the review after the break.

A 1Malaysia netbook came in last Tuesday, when top politicians came and gave a speech which was a plain waste of time.

The netbook received is a Malaysia made, SMART Aurora Lite. However, the user manual suggests it is just a re-branded China netbook. See for yourself.

I wouldn't want to believe this is the work of Malaysians. Maybe these guys were half-drunk when they wrote the manual.

On to serious business now.

Powered by an Intel Atom N455, I didn't look up to it. Being used to mid-range desktops, the performance of a low-power mobile processor scare me a little. Well, at least it was given free. Specs are listed on a sticker. The box was plain blank. No specs or anything you expect from packaging of consumer electronics were of sight..

It comes in pure black with a 1Malaysia emblem on the lid.

And this is after having spent some hard time peeling the sticker off. Hey, it has the look of those notebooks corporates use from IBM or Lenovo. Plain black & sleek, the curves of the netbook are also very nice, but it will not stand out of the crowd.

The battery is rounded to conform with the ends. The ends have a nice metal touch to it. That is about all the shiny goodness you can find on this netbook.

The keyboard of this netbook is pretty nice, comparable to most notebook keyboards tried. Even when compared to my current Pleomax keyboard, it is also quite nice to type on. Once you get the hang of it, you can should be able to type with ease. However, the panel below the keyboard flexes when the keys are pressed. That due to the thin material used.

The touchpad is not very sensitive. The scrollbar works rather erratically. There is also no multi-touch support. The surface is matte and smooth. Stick to a mouse whenever possible cause it spoils the joy of using it when you use the touchpad.

There are 3 USB ports, one VGA output port, a microphone port and a headphone port, as well as an SD card reader. There is also a LAN port which will be rarely used due to the WiFi capabilities.

In this unit, the headphone port no longer works. Definitely not a widespread problem as units received by other people works just fine.

The display is a glossy 10" LCD with a 1024x600 resolution. Nothing to shout about considering all the IPS display and high PPI you get these days but it is clear enough for normal usage.

As you can see, lots of lights are reflected. Irritating when the display is showing something dark. The display also has poor vertical viewing angle, shifting from bright to dark when you view it from different angles. What do you expect from a display with no IPS right?

The stereo speakers are placed on the underside of the front edge of the lower half of the netbook. The sound quality is so-so but they are LOUD.

The battery doesn't last very long. Being a 3-cell battery, it can only last about 2 hours on regular usage. I have not tested the battery performance fully because I always use it with the supplied adaptor/charger.

The performance is to be expected from an Intel Atom netbook. Have a look at the Windows Experience Index of this netbook.

Angry Birds for PC and Plants vs Zombies 2 are playable on this system. What suprised me was that Super Dancer Online (SDO) is also playable, although with a little lagginess when the action picks up.

It will definitely be enough for any work-related task that need to be performed by a student, unless he needs it for image editing for school projects. It is well worth it and I hope the recipients will make full use of this netbook to enhance their studies.