Mini media centre

Mini media centre

BenQ's latest release, the S61 v30, is the only 12.1-inch notebook we've seen that comes with a built-in digital TV tuner. It weighs just 1.65kg, has 1200 x 800 resolution and a slim optical drive bay, and is remarkably portable.

The JoyBook relies on an Intel T2300 CPU, which runs at 1.66GHz with 512MB RAM. Running F.E.A.R. at anything above the game's optimised settings for the JoyBook's Intel GMA 950 graphics processor is a futile task as this notebook is not designed for gaming. At the optimised setting, it scored 22 frames per second in this benchmark. In battery life tests, it lasted four hours and twelve minutes, running Mobile Mark 2002.

To watch TV, BenQ supplies a portable antenna, but it will pick up one or maybe two channels, at most - so an external roof mounted antenna is recommended. The case design of the notebook is thin and it has a grey, latch-less lid.

BenQ has also included its proprietary QMedia bar that is embedded in your desktop background. This provides fast access to all media functions, including the impressive media centre.

Unfortunately, the notebook's trackpad has no scrolling function, and its and keys are not located where you would normally expect to find them.

Verdict: If you need a notebook that will last for four hours while on the road, and double as a media centre once you get back to base, then look no further.

Specifications: Intel Centrino Duo T2300 CPU; Intel 945GM chipset with GMA 950 graphics; 12.1-inch bright glossy widescreen; 80GB SATA hard disk; 512MB DDR2 RAM (upgradeable to 1GB); 8x DVD burner; Bluetooth 2.0 EDR; Digital TV tuner; Gigabit LAN; 56K modem; 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi; 3 x USB 2.0; 1 x FireWire; VGA; 1 x PCI Express Card (Type II) slot; memory card reader.

It is distributed by Ingram Micro, Bluechip Infotech and Westan.

RRP: $2599

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