When just about every 10-inch mini-notebook features the same processor, RAM, and operating system, competitors have to find some way of differentiating themselves. BenQ, the latest entrant into this crowded market, hopes to do so by adding a little visual flair. While the BenQ Joybook Lite U101 has the run-of-the-mill netbook specs, including an Intel Atom processor, 1.5GB of RAM, and Windows XP Home, spicing up the system is an interesting, artistic lid design and a 10-inch, 16:9 aspect ratio display (the first on a netbook to date). However, its cramped keyboard and short battery life will be a deal breaker for some.
A Unique Design
You can’t blame BenQ for feeling that netbooks were starting to look all too similar, and it strives to ensure you won’t forget the U101. The lid of this system has an emoticon design: Small light blue symbols (reminiscent of the Wingdings font) are printed on the blue (also available in white, black, and pink) glossy lid.
Upon close inspection, the diagonal pattern repeatedly spells out Joybook Lite. The artistic lid is undoubtedly unique and bound to attract some consumers, but others may be put off by its attention-grabbing pattern and prefer something more along the lines of the HP Mini 1000’s subtle Imprint finish. According to BenQ, the cover has also undergone a special molding process to protect it from wear and tear.
The size and weight of the Joybook Lite is standard fare for a 10-inch system. At 10.2 x 7.4 x 1.3 inches and 2.6 pounds, it weighs the same as the Lenovo S10 and MSI Wind. While not as compact as the HP Mini 1000, it is shorter and narrower than both the MSI Wind and Samsung NC10. With a travel weight of 3.2 pounds with its AC adapter, the system felt almost nonexistent when we tossed it (inside the included neoprene sleeve) into a shoulder bag.
Three USB ports, VGA, Ethernet, headphone, and a microphone jack surround the Joybook Lite, and a 4-in-1 card reader is on the right side.
* Unique lid design
* Compact build
* Bright, glossy display
* Loud speakers
* Cramped keyboard
* Short battery life
* Loud mouse button
CPU: 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N270
OS: Windows XP Home
Hard Drive Size/Speed: 160GB/5,400 rpm
Display/Resolution: 10.1 inches/1024 x 576
Price as Reviewed: $499.00