ONE OF THE companies that most westerners have never heard of, J&W, had one o the best laptop lineups at Computex. The upcoming 8xx series is one to watch closely.
A new class, TLC: Thin, Light, Cheap
The part that really caught my eye was a very sleek 13.3″ laptop called the Minix JW830. It and it’s younger siblings the JW820, JW811, and JW810 all share the same genetic makeup, and that is a good thing. The entire line line is wrapped in a very sleek aluminum or magnesium alloy body, one of the stiffer ones I have held recently. Compared to the horrendously expensive wet noodle ‘strength’ of my Sony, this is a breath of fresh air.
As you have probably guessed, the CPU choices range goes from an Intel 9600 (unspecified as to which 9600 though) + GS45 chipset on the 13.3″ JW830 down to an Atom + i945GSE on the 10.1″ JW810. There are lots of variants in between, and likely more if you order in volume. All are about 1″ thick, ranging from 22.5 to 32.5mm in height.
Specs are one thing, but holding the beast is another. The screen on the 830 was a little bendy, not bad, but not the best I have ever twisted, but the body itself is top notch. If you hold it up by one corner, there is no noticeable flex, something that can’t be said for a lot of big name laptops.
Not wanting to drool obsessively over these, but by all appearances, J&W did right with the Minix laptop line. No word on prices or sales outlets yet, but given the lack of a brand presence, they will likely be pretty cheap. The J&W rep at Computex said some models will tip up first in France as an ODM product for an unspecified retailer.
785G in ITX format
J&W is primarily a mobo maker, and they had a really slick AMD 785G board in ITX format. The board, called 785G-SP128M has a full speed 785G + SB710, and still manages to pack in 128M of sideport memory.
The board has everything you would want in an HTPC, all the ports, 4 SATA, and even a 16x slot. The only down side is their use of SO-DIMMs, but that is hardly the compromise it was two years ago. All you need now is a barebones version to make things absurdly simple.
780G in an ITX barebones chassis
Speaking of which, that brings us to the Minix 780G-SP128MB, which has the above board at the slightly slower 780G speeds. It ‘only’ has a SB700, but since that combo is already one of the best integrated chipsets out there, it is hardly a handicap.
This chassis is called the XX-01, has a nice bright LCD screen, and can take any ITX mobo, tool free. It has a taller and slimmer cousin called the LX-01, and an even smaller version called the MX. The XX-01 is by far the best, the others don’t really stand out.
The last thing J&W had on display was then All-In-One PC design called, oddly enough “20.1 inch All-In-One Solution”, likely because it was still a prototype. It has a 20.1 inch touch screen, 2MP camera, and a really curious set of hardware.
If you are thinking this is a laptop wrapped in a sleek package with some desktop hardware added on, you are right. It uses a Conroe class (65nm Core Number Numeral) CPU with an Intel G31 chipset. Before you cringe, it also has an AMD M92 or M96 GPU, likely on a mini-PCIe card, so it will power a good number of games at speed.
For I/O, there is a SATA optical drive, room for a 3.5″ HD, and a multi-card reader. All this is wrapped in a sleek aluminum case that looks like it can stand on it’s own or be wall mounted. Either way, plug in a Logitech diNovo keyboard, and you are all set.
To say I wasn’t prepared for what I saw at J&W is an understatement. Their mobos looked to be a cut above the rest when I first saw them two years ago, and various engineers at large semiconductor companies confirmed that notion. Now they are getting into laptops, and it looks like they are repeating the same playlist, cheap and good. I can’t wait to get my hands on one, the CULV based 820 looks very nice for the road warrior.S|A
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