The lifestyle concept is BenQ’s raison d’etre. When the brand was launched into the Australian market, enjoyment was the focus of its philosophy. Central to this was BenQ’s digital hub concept where the networked digital lifestyle would become the fusion of work and entertainment.
A year on, and the first of these digital hub products is due to hit shelves. The Joybook 8000 will ship in early April and while comparison with Apple was inevitable it is worth noting that the Joybook is the only Intel-based machine with that all-important wide-screen. It is easily the jewel in the BenQ crown and is guaranteed to garner attention from even the most technophobic of users.
First things first: whatever you do, don’t call it a notebook. You and I may not be able to tell the difference between a notebook and the Joybook, but don’t let the people at BenQ know that. The official line is: “There is a marked difference between the traditional computer operating functionality of a notebook and the BenQ Joybook which supports both work and entertainment needs”.
It sounds good, but frankly, it just doesn’t wash. That’s not to say the Joybook is not a compelling product in its own right, but if your customer already has a notebook with a DVD/CD-RW, then they probably won’t be able to justify the price tag, tentatively set at $4500. If, on the other hand, they are looking for a 15.2-inch screen, nVidia graphics and sound equaliser in a package that will look good alongside any entertainment system in the living room then this may just be the ticket.
On the software side, the Joybook incorporates the Q-Media toolbar from which you can launch all manner of multimedia applications.
“It’s a different way of looking at it,” BenQ marketing manager, Kamil Gurgen, said. “We are not the beige notebook — the Joybook is part of a lifestyle. We now have a unifying product that can connect everything.”
In that vein, the Joybook certainly doesn’t skimp on connectivity — be it the good old serial port, the PCMCIA slot or the latest and greatest such as FireWire and USB 2.0. When the device lands in Australia it will also integrate Bluetooth connectivity. BenQ is considering adding WiFi to the mix as well. S-Video and Digital Audio outputs round out the offering.
Windows XP quickly recognises almost anything you plug in, making it a joy to transfer photos, download movies from your camcorder or create your own music library.
However you may want to attach speakers, because while the Joybook does have its own speakers, they understandably lack the rich sounds of standalone systems.
The Joybook 8000 is the first of five models that will be sold in Australia.