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It all looked good. I myself am more of a one thing at a time person. The whole widescreen vs. standard doesn’t bother me much. I could see where the extra width would come in handy for those who like to multi-task, watch DVDs or do Excel. WSXGA+ was the perfect resolution for its size in my opinion. Like all matte screens, viewing angles were not particularly great especially horizontally, but as long as you remained relatively on center, it looked good. There are seven brightness levels. I felt anything three or above was workable. Here is a shot of the Z61M next to my T42 with FlexView screen, the standard for notebook matte screens. ThinkPad T42 on the left showing “Airplane”.

The ThinkPad Z61m is on the left showing “Dick Tracy” The Z61m on the right might look better in the picture because the shot is brighter, but the T42 screen looked better to my eyes. It was one of the few areas where my T42 outclassed the Z61m. Performance & Benchmarks I don’t think I am breaking any new ground here telling you the Core Duo is the best notebook CPU at the moment. Screen cap of CPU-Z It will be interesting if the Intel Merom processor debuts in August, as has been rumored. Just about the time people are getting their hands on these Yonah Core Duo processors in larger numbers; the CPU would already be overshadowed by the 64-bit dual core Merom.

The Core Duo, coupled with the faster 5400RPM drive and a generous 1GB of memory, had very good performance. Everything I did on it from converting MP3s to Photoshop to internet usage to MS Office worked great and ran smoothly. Conceivably a 7200RPM drive might have kicked up the performance a notch, but not hugely in my opinion. While surfing the web or using Office, the performance bump wasn’t as big over the Pentium M in my T42, but using things like Photoshop or converting MP3 files were decidedly faster on the Core Duo over the Pentium M. I may have to dump the T42 for a Core Duo machine even though it will hurt the wallet! The Zepto Notus A12 is an innovative notebook which combines a very usable WXGA display with a low power CPU to give adequate performance with all-day battery operation and a cost lower than other notebooks with similar characteristics. Readers of my reviews may recall that I was enthusiastic about the Sony G11 which had a 12.1" display, 1.13kg (2.49lb) weight and offered 9 hour battery life in return for accepting compromises on performance (link to that review).

I can’t be the only person who wants a lightweight portable notebook with very good battery life for basic tasks while on the move but doesn’t want a very small display. The Notus (right) outside next to the Sony G11 (left). The glossy screen can be used as a mirror! (and I could get a wireless connection to the router inside the house) Reasons for Buying I haven’t bought the Notus. I just borrowed it so that I could share my findings. However, if I hadn’t bought that Sony G11 last year then I would be very tempted to buy the Notus for the same reasons as I bought the G11. One dominant feature is the wedge shaped design. Another dominant feature of the Notus is the extensive use of magnesium alloy metal in its construction with the display back, chassis and palm rest all being metal. The result is very solid build and a rigid chassis. Drop this notebook on your foot and it will hurt! At first look the Notus’s colour scheme appears to be black but it is actually very dark grey mottled (metallic?) paint.

It looks quite durable but I didn’t try scratching it. During travel the display is held closed by spring-loaded hinges. The hinges are very stiff and hold the display very firmly in position. It is necessary to use two hands to open the display. As new, the display has no wobble, although the hinges may loosen with time. The bottom of the computer has small protruding feet about 1.5mm (1/16" long). There is a single removable cover for the mini PCI-E slot which contains the wireless card. There are no air vents on the bottom so this notebook is suitable for use on the bedclothes without sucking in fluff. The standard 6 cell battery fits at the back of the notebook and is held firmly in place by two latches. Underside of the Notus:

The only removable cover is for the mini PCI-E slot. The small grille near bottom left corner of the photo covers the loudspeaker The battery appears to be the main reason for the back of the Notus being relatively thick. Sony had addressed this problem on the G11 by letting the battery be exposed at the back of the keyboard. The Notus would have benefited from the same approach, which would have also made the battery gauge accessible. The Keyboard The front edge of the palm rest is bevelled and is a very low 14mm from the table surface. The keyboard on the Notus has an almost standard layout. The Fn key occupies the front left corner which some people will dislike (is it time for two keyboard options with the Fn and Ctrl keys transposed?). There are 83 keys which have clear white markings on a black plastic background. The keys have slightly smaller than normal 17.5mm pitch. Personally, I miss dedicated Pg Up and Pg Dn keys and would have been pleased if these had been squeezed by, for example, shortening the enter key and using the empty space above the cursor right key. The keyboard includes accented characters which can be created using the Alt Gr key (this also works with a normal keyboard, but I never knew that before!). The Notus keyboard.

The palmrest attracts fingerprints The keyboard is responsive has a comfortable action with reasonable travel. The Fn keys include the usual options for display switching, brightness and volume controls. The touchpad is a miniscule touchpad (50mm x 29mm active area within area of 61mm x 35mm). The touchpad buttons are right on the front edge of the palmrest. I am puzzled by the decision to not utilise the full area of the touchpad. The shiny surround to indicator lights makes them difficult to read. The touchpad is only active within the line. There are six indicator lights with symbols on the edge of the chassis in front of the palm rest. The surround to the lights is glossy, which makes it difficult to read the symbols. From left to right the lights are: WLAN on; 3G on (will need 3G factory option); Bluetooth on; Smart card reader activity; Power indicator; Battery charge indicator. Buttons and lights at back of keyboard The power button is located above the Prt Scr key with a blue light illuminated when the computer is on. There are three dim indicator lights to the left of the power button. These are Caps Lock, Num Lock and HDD activity.

There are two other buttons above the F2 and F3 keys. One button (P1) is user-configurable. The other (ECO) toggles Economy mode. The fingerprint reader is at the back right, next to the display. Ports and Features Overall, the ports are quite well laid out. The fan exhaust is near the back on the left side. However, the audio ports are at the right side at the front and wires with straight plugs could get in the way of a mouse. There are three USB ports, which is good. The media card slot is shallow, so it would not be convenient to permanently leave a card in the slot for ReadyBoost. SD card sticks out of the media card slot Let’s have a tour of the sockets, clockwise starting at the front. The thin front has only the smart card slot, indicator lights and a microphone. Left side from back to front: VGA port, fan exhaust, wireless switch, USB2.0 port, media card reader The back: Security slot, battery and power socket Right side from front to back: audio ports, two USB ports, PC card slot, network port, modem port The Display The display is 1280 x 800 (WXGA) glossy LCD with LED backlight. The brightness, at the maximum setting was a close match to the Sony G11 without the slight unevenness in the LED backlighting I observed on the G11. I found that the contrast was best if the display was pushed back slightly. Reflections are the main issue with this display and I am surprised that Zepto opted for a gloss finish. The monitor code is LCD5860, which gives me no clue about the manufacturer. Display comparison: Notus on left and Sony G11 on right There are 16 brightness levels. The lowest is too dark to be usable but 4/16 gives adequate lighting to extend battery time. Viewing angles are typical for displays of this type. The horizontal viewing angle range is good and the vertical range moderate for text work. Display viewed from different angles – it is best when pushed back a little Audio Quality The Notus contains one very small loudspeaker located on the bottom under the right palm rest.

Not surprisingly for such a small notebook, the audio quantity and quality from this loudspeaker is poor. It is best described as a beeper. This is not claimed to be a multimedia notebook. Processor and Chipset The Notus A12 is designed for stamina, not speed, and is powered by the Intel A110 CPU. This CPU is effectively a "Dothan" Pentium M CPU with only 512kB cache. The maximum Thermal Design Power (TDP) rating of 3.0W is lower than the 5.5W of the U1500 Core Solo CPU and the power consumption drops to below 1W in the low power states. CPU-Z reports for the Notus A12 CPU. There is only one memory slot, or maybe it is on the board This A110 CPU has voltage range of 0.812V at 600MHz / 800MHz. Intel’s data sheet shows that individual A110s may be set to voltages in the range 0.796V to 0.94V (but a quick trial with RMClock revealed that the voltage on this Dothan CPU can be lowered). The memory runs at a leisurely 400MHz but with low latency. Lower speed means less power consumed. Alongside the low power CPU is the Intel 945GU chipset which is a lower power version of the normal Intel 945GM chipset. Features include the use of only a single memory channel with a maximum speed of 400MHz and maximum address capability of 1GB and the GPU clock is only 133MHz.

Hard Disk The supplied hard disk is a 80GB 1.8" 4200rpm Toshiba MK8009GAH using the PATA interface. 1.8" HDDs have smaller size, lower weight and less capacity than the 2.5" HDDs used in most notebooks. They also have lower power consumption but are slower compared to the current generation of 2.5" HDDs. The MK8009GAH had a maximum transfer rate of 28MB/s dropping down to 13MB/s. The user guide indicates that the HDD has rubber protection at 4 corners, and a G-Sensor function. HD Tune’s results for this disk are below. Optical Drive The optional optical drive is a Samsung SE-T084L external USB unit. This is a slot loader which supports LightScribe and 8cm discs. It can be powered through either the USB port or the supplied PSU.

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