After slogging down the high street, laden with presents for the angry masses, it’s nice to know that JVC are thinking of ever more impressive ways to lighten the load, in your laptop bag.
Smaller than one of Santa’s little helpers, and more fun packed than a trip to Lapland the new MP-XV841 mini-note PC really does have it all. Measuring just 9.25in wide by 8.5in deep the Mini-note looks every bit the ultra-compact PC. Even the bulbous battery pack attached at the back can do little spoil the lines, whilst also acting as an elevator to tilt the keyboard toward the user.
The MP-XV841 has been specifically designed to offer compact computing power combined with all the expected features of a portable DVD player. The 8.9inch, low-temperature screen has been made incredibly bright, offering 16.7 million poly-silicon TFT colures. Quick keys have been added to the front left hand panel of the PC to allow instant access to the DVD player functions and the supporting literature even goes as far as to quote battery duration when watching a film, which is an impressive 3 hours - only Lord of The Rings, might need the adaptor. Dolby virtual speaker software had been included to boost the internal speaker power during audio playback of music or movies, and even though this is effective it is still a little subdued. Practically, headphones can be attached, letting the viewer deafen themselves without sharing their tastes with the locality, while draining the batteries into the process.
At the heart of the MP-XV841 lies an ultra-low voltage Intel Pentium M Processor, running a 1GHz clock and a 400Mhz systems bus. The Onboard RAM is configurable and ranges from 256Mb, in the standard models, to 768Mb in the GTI build. The hard disk is only 40Gb, but external hard drives can easily be connected via USB2.0 or Firewire, and data can be rapidly stored and retrieved.
The left hand edge of the Mini Note is festooned with ports and docking points offering access for a number of peripherals. JVC have included an integrated SD/ MMC card slot to speed up data transfer from cameras or MP3 devices. If the 2 USB2.0 ports aren’t enough to connect everything, JVC have also added an i.LINK (IEEE 1394) Firewire port on the right. Both LAN and normal phone lines can be connected, if you wish to connect, to the web or networks in a manner other than the integrated, secure, IEEE802.11b/g wireless network card.
Interestingly JVC have opted to include the full XP Professional Edition, so office users, who are looking for something compact to take on business trips, will not cross the pond cursing the name of Gates for the difference between the two XP releases. JVC couldn’t have improved the out-of-the-box functionality, short of including the full MS office suite.
If fault must be found, it’s that the QWERTY keyboard is just that little bit too small to be accurate but the trade-off for size constrains certain things. It appears that the scale of the Mini-Note is based around the only object JVC had no control over the size of, the DVD drive.
Overall the Mini Note is awe-inspiring. The combination of the media, the connectivity and the software should temp any buyer, regardless of scale. Add to this that it is all wrapped into a device weighing only 3.4lbs and that takes compact computing to the next level. Sadly though, ultra-compact computers seem to have an inverse relationship between price and size. For the £1525 you would have to part with for the Mini-Note you could purchase a lot more computing power, simply stored in a bigger box.