Gigabyte Technology’s N512
Multimedia laptops these days
have an awful lot of bells and whistles, but not everyone that needs a notebook
is a power user. Unfortunately, schools have needs that run the gamut of functionality:
graphics for educational games; performance for specialty classes in graphic
design and animation; high powered networking and 802.11b capabilities for
in-class groups and tutorials; and plain vanilla usage like word processing.
Because even in a well-heeled system like New York, cost is a very real issue,
the trick has been finding a single unit that offer the most flexibility for
the lowest total dollar cost.
To be practical,
in the districts that have deployed laptops direct to students and teachers
for transport from home to school, they have to be light enough to be easily
carried and slender enough to fit on a desktop. For advanced students learning
design packages like Illustrator and Quark, the learning environment can
be adjusted to accommodate a 17” screen, but machines in that class are far too pricey to be considered
for large-scale deployment. The most basic entry-level machines like the $800
TigerDirect models or the Compaq Armada 110 are exceptional useful as well
as affordable, but won’t even come close to being powerful enough for
general classroom use.
thin and light N512 provides a rare balance of features and economy that should
make it a popular item in the education vertical market. Weighing in at only
just over five pounds, the inexpensive portable offers a diversity of excellent
features unusual in the U.S. The wireless feature, crucial in education, as
most enterprise systems are only practical if they can be configured for LAN
use in-class, picked up a Linksys wireless broadband router’s signal
just about instantly. At the price point of the unit, about $1800, according
to the website, it’s remarkable that an ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 is a
everything is perfect: the sound system, based on a AC’97 3D Surround Sound chipset,
seems to be rather tinny and distant, and is not helped out much by the tiny
but well placed stereo speakers. The performance of the 855PM chipset was very
respectable, but not all of the benchmarks were ideal for operating in the
classroom. One very sharp point in its favor, though, is the very bright 15” TFT
screen, which although not ideal for design use, will be a real plus for schools
with poor light conditions.
All in all, it’s
pretty rare to seem this kind of ratio between bang and buck, and for tech
procurers in New York City, it should be a serious consideration for purchase
as education workhorse laptop. For more information, dial the American division
of the manufacturer at 626-854-9338, or online at www.giga-byte.com.