Gigabyte caused a bit of a stir with its Booktop M1022 netbook as it was the first and so far the only netbook available with a docking station.
The company has now followed this up with the CULV-based Booktop M1305 and added yet another twist, a desktop graphics card in the dock. This makes the Booktop M1305 a good alternative for those that want a thin and light notebook, yet crave some extra performance when using it at a desk.
The overall specifications of the M1305 places it in the middle of the CULV notebook market with a Core 2 Duo SU7300 processor at 1.3GHz, up to 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 500GB hard drive and integrated Intel graphics.
The M1305 also features a 13.3-inch display with 1366 x 768 resolution, a built-in optical drive, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, a finger print reader, an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, an HDMI connector, two USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, a D-sub connector, a 1.3 Megapixel webcam, a memory card reader and a pair of audio jacks.
The battery isn't going to wildly impress anyone as the 6-cell 3800mAh unit will at best manage 5 to 6 hours of untethered usage, but Gigabyte is also offering a secondary battery that occupies the optical drive bay instead of the drive and this 4-cell unit should add another 3 to 4 hours of usage.
The real selling point of the M1305 is the docking station, and, as we've mentioned, what makes it special is the inclusion of a desktop Nvidia GeForce GT220 graphics card with 1GB of DDR3 graphics memory. This is the first time we've heard about such a solution in a consumer notebook, although AMD has offered an external graphics solution in co-operation with Fujitsu-Siemens, but that never really took off. The advantage here is that you get vastly increased graphics performance when you place the notebook in the dock, although currently you're limited to using an external display.
The dock offers DVI, HDMI and D-sub connectivity and it also sports six USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port and a pair of audio jacks. The dock must be powered to function, although it will also power the notebook, so only one power adapter is required. Gigabyte is
considering offering docks with various graphics configurations in the future if this proves to be a successful product.
The exact hardware configurations will differ from market to market, but the initial model with the specifications listed above, including the dock, will cost in the region of £745 with Windows 7 Home Premium.