Battalion 101 ML-Turbo Laptop Review (pics, specs)

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IBuyPower.com Battalion 101 ML-Turbo [2] Review

Battalion 101 ML-Turbo [2] 15.4″ screen laptop (view larger image)

Overview and Introduction: 

  • 15.4″ Wide Screen WXGA 1280×800 LCD TFT Notebook w/Li-Ion Battery, Universal AC Power Adapter, Deluxe Carrying Case Original Metalic Silver Color
  • Intel Pentium M Processor 760 [2.0Ghz, 533MhzFSB, 2MB Cache]
  • 1024MB(512MB X2) DDR2-533 PC4200 Corsair Memory
  • NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 based MXM graphics module with 256MB Memory (and can switch to Intel Media Accelerator 900)
  • 8x Dual Format DVD R/ RW + 16x CD-R/RW Combo Drive [ML-Series]
  • Warranty Service iBUYPOWER Premium Warranty Package-I: Standard 1-Year
  • Limited Warranty + First Year 24/7 Phone Support
  • 3D Premium Surround Sound Onboard
  • 56K V.92 Fax Modem, 10/100/1000 Network LAN
  • 3x USB 2.0 Ports
  • Built-in 4-in-1 Media Card Reader/Writer
  • 1x IEEE-1394 Firewire Port
  • Wireless LAN Wi-Fi 802.11g 54Mbps Mini-PCI Module
  • Windows XP Home

Total Cost (including shipping) – $1,499.00 US

The Battalion 101 ML Turbo [2] notebook from IBuyPower is based upon an ODM model notebook made by the computer manufacturer Uniwill.  Specifically it is the Uniwill model number 259EN3.  The Uniwill 259EN3 Manufacturer’s Website is located here.

Following is a list of notebooks that are are all baed on the Uniwill 259EN3 ODM model:

Reasons for Buying:

I decided to buy the IBuyPower Battalion 101 ML Turbo laptop because my old Dell Dimension 2100 just wasn’t cutting it anymore.  Actually, it stopped cutting it a long time ago!  But since I recently transferred from a junior college to a major university, I figured I would need a new portable computer.  I wanted a laptop that was able to replace my old desktop, while being pretty lightweight and mobile. Also I wanted it to be able to play some newer games, but I don’t really care about being on the cutting edge graphics wise. This laptop met all my specifications at the best price.  The other laptops that I looked at were the Asus Z70va refresh, Apple PowerBook, and some of the Dell models. 

Where and How Purchased:

I bought this laptop from www.IBuyPower.com, in truth I didn’t do much shopping around before I bought it.  I configured it to my specs on the website.  They offer two different forms of the laptop, the Battalion 101 ML Turbo and Turbo [2].  It’s the exact same machine except with different configurations, the way I wanted it, the Turbo [2] came out to be $30 less.  I used my credit card (which you should always do when making a large online purchase).  A couple of words of caution when buying from IBuyPower, first go and check out their seller scores at ResellerRatings (thanks to chazman421 for that link).  Many of the complaints seem to be about their customer service and a lot of the orders seem to get messed up due to poor build construction.  Also, another bad point is their customer service/repair department, due to this fact if anything goes wrong with this machine in the slightest in the next 30 days I’m sending it back ASAP and getting a full refund! Another warning is that their ship times are NOT ACCURATE!  They lead you to believe that you will get your computer/laptop within 5-10 business days, or 3 if you order rush shipping.  This is not true! Your computer order has to be processed (2 -3 days), built (one to two weeks), then shipped 5-10 days with ground, or 3 days rush. So you are looking at about an average of 3 weeks.  Here’s the rundown in my case (although the credit card processing delay was probably because it was the New Year’s holiday):

  • 12/30/2005 3:05:59 PM Processing Order Received/Processing
  • 12/30/2005 11:11:18 AM Submitted Order Submitted by Customer
  • 1/3/2006 9:34:24 AM  Processing Credit Card Approved 
  • 1/16/2006 6:45:00 PM Shipped FEDEX —–shipdate:1/16/2006 6:00:00 PM 

I must say however, that my experience when dealing with them was good, I received notification emails at each step of the process, including the FedEx tracking number/details.  One last note, I received the notebook on the 19th of January with 3 day rush shipping, I didn’t pay for it however, I asked what they could do for me in the ways of a student discount and that’s what they gave me.  So for you students out there, there’s your way out of the $69 rush shipping fee (which is basically not rush anyway!)  Make up your own mind about IBuyPower, although if I had known about their reviews BEFORE I bought from them, I would not have bought from them.

Build & Design: 

This Battalion 101 ML Turbo feels pretty solid.  The keyboard is nice and sturdy, no flexing there, the hinges seem pretty solid and smooth (no wobbling).  The case is silver metallic and black and is pretty nice.  The LCD monitor flexes a little if I try to twist it’s frame, and if  you press hard from the back side of it you can see some screen distortion.  The DVD/CD burner seems a little flimsy to me, it pops out but I can move it around a little in each direction side to side and top to bottom.  The laptops listed weight is about 6.6 lbs but I think its probably more like 7lbs with the battery and the optical drive in.

Top view of the Battalion 101 ML Turbo (view larger image)

Under side view of Battalion 101 ML Turbo (view larger image)

Screen: 

Screen view of the Battalion 101 (view larger image)

The Battalion 101 ML Turbo has a 15.4″ Wide Screen WXGA 1280 x 800 LCD TFT.  The screen is really nice, and came with absolutely no dead pixels, I checked using the Dead Pixel Buddy program.  It’s a matte finish so no glossy covering over it, when I first ordered this computer I wanted the glossy covering, but now seeing how bright and crisp the screen is without the extra glossy coat I’m happy I chose the matte.  There is no light leakage around the seams of the screen, and the viewing angles are really good.  This means when viewing from the sides the color doesn’t wash out or fade, you can view it at almost a 180 degree viewing angle from the front and still see the images clearly!  The backlighting is even across the screen too.

Speakers: 

The speakers are okay, kind of small and plain, but they sound nice and crisp, no popping or weird noises.  They don’t provide a lot of bass, but what do you expect from laptop speakers?

Processor and Performance: 

The Batallion 101 ML Turbo I ordered came with the Intel Pentium M Processor 760 (2.0Ghz, 533MhzFSB, 2MB Cache).  This computer runs pretty quickly, it takes around 45 seconds for startup and less so for shutdown.  I haven’t run any games on it yet, but I am planning to play Doom 3 and FEAR on it and it should be able to handle these games without problem.  I took some pictures of it playing a HDTV movie, the movie plays nice and smoothly.  The great thing about this computer is that it has a switch on the front of case that lets you choose between using the integrated Intel 900 graphics, or the nVidia 6600 dedicated graphics card.  This means that when you are on the go and want extra battery life you can switch to the Intel graphics and it will add about 30 to 45 minutes of battery life.  If you’re at a desk and gaming you’ll of course want to plug in and make sure to use the nVidia 6600 graphics card   

Benchmarks: 

The benchmarks below are the results straight out of the box, no tweaks or overclocking of the notebook.

SuperPi which is a program that forces the processor to calculate the value of Pi to 2million digits accuracy. Below are the results of how the Battalion 101 with the 2.0GHz processor stacked up to other notebooks:

Notebook Time
 Battalion 101 ML Turbo [2] (2.0GHz Pentium M)  1m 31s
 Dell Inspiron 9300 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 39s
 Sony VAIO FS680 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 53s
 IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s
 Dell XPS M140 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 41s
 Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)  1m 48s
 Dell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  1m 52s
 Dell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)  2m 10s
 HP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 39s
 HP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)  1m 53s
 Sony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)  1m 45s

3DMark05 3D Graphics performance results:

Notebook  3DMark 05 Results
 Battalion 101 ML Turbo [2] (2.0GHz Pentium M, nVidia Go 6600 128MB)  2,637 3DMarks
 Lenovo ThinkPad Z60m (2.0GHz Pentium M, ATI X600 128MB)  1,659 3DMarks
ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz, ATI X300 64MB graphics)  727 3DMarks
 Asus V6Va (2.13 GHz Pentium M, ATI Radeon Mobility x700 128 MB)  2,530 3D Marks
 Quanta KN1 (1.86 GHz Pentium M, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 128mb)  2,486 3DMarks
 HP dv4000 (1.86GHz Pentium M, ATI X700 128MB)  2,536 3D Marks
 Dell Inspiron XPS 2 (2.0GHz Pentium M, NVIDIA GeForce Go 6800 Ultra with 256MB)  5112 3D Marks

3DMark05 Results (view larger image)

Everest System/Benchmarking report (click to open results in new window)

Heat and Noise: 

This notebook doesn’t get too hot when doing normal tasks such as installing applications, browsing folder directories and the likes.  When doing this type of thing the notebook temperature gets in the range from 41 to 45C.  When browsing the web and performing office tasks you’ll find the notebook warms up to 50C.  At this temperature you’ll notice the notebook gets a bit warm under your right palm when you type, but like I said, I haven’t played any games on it yet but will post those temperatures on this site when I get them — you would certainly expect them to be higher than temperatures of the notebook during normal usage. 

The fan has pretty much always been silent, but a few times it has kicked on full speed and the noise is a little annoying, it’s not very loud, it’s just kind of a high pitched sound.  On the Uniwill support forums one of the people recorded the sound of it and uploaded it to rapidshare,  here’s the link : http://rapidshare.de/files/10586028/luefterStart.mp3.html On this recording I should note it sounds worse than it actually is in person.

Keyboard and Touchpad: 

Battalion 101 keyboard and touchpad view (view larger image)

The keyboard is nice and sturdy, it has a very plain layout of the keys, which I like.  It’s very sturdy and doesn’t flex when typing on it — even if your typing tends to be hard.  The touchpad seems okay, I heard some people say it wasn’t very precise, but I found it was perfect right out of the box, it’s pretty responsive.  One issue is the touchpad is kind of close to the keyboard so when I type my hand will sometimes brush it, but you can disable it to prevent accidental cursor movement, so I don’t find it to be a problem.

Input and Output Ports: 

Below is a run down of all the ports you get with the Battalion 101:

  • 3 External USB 2.0 (On the right side of laptop, kind of close together so if you have a big bulky dongle to put in there it will block one of the others).
  • 1 IEEE 1394 port
  • 1 Mic-in jack
  • 1 Audio-out/SPDIF jack
  • 1 RJ-45 Ethernet plug
  • 1 RJ-11 Modem plug
  • 1 External VGA
  • 1 S-Video output port
  • 1 PCMCIA Card Type II
  • 1 DC-in jack
  • 4 in 1 Card Reader
  • 1 15 Pin CRT port
  • 1 VGA Switch

Left side view of Battalion 101 (view larger image)

Right side view of Battalion 101 (view larger image)

Front side view of Battalion 101 (view larger image)

Back side view of Battalion 101 (view larger image)

Wireless:

The Battalion 101 Comes with the Intel PROset Wireless LAN Wi-Fi 802.11g 54Mbps Mini-PCI Module. Right out of the box it detected my router, and about 4 other connections.  It connected to the wireless access points great, no hiccups.

Battery: 

The battery life for this notebook is only about 2 to 3 hours depending on which graphics processor you use (you get more battery power if you switch to integrated graphics).  My laptop from IBuyPower comes with the 6 cell battery, although I have heard of a 9 cell for this model, but was not able to locate a place to buy it.  And the 9 cell sticks out of the back of the computer making it bulkier looking.

Operating System and Software: 

The Battalion 101 I ordered came with Windows XP Home already installed, there were absolutely no bloatware programs installed with it.  Just a nice clean install.  Drivers were already installed, the only thing you have to setup is the wireless software and InstantON.  It came with the XP recovery CD, the drivers CD, a copy of nero, PowerDVD software, and the InstantON software which allows  you to play a DVD without having to boot up Windows ( it plays the DVD in a fast boot Linux OS).

Customer Support: 

Haven’t had a chance to deal with the customer support on any large scale yet.  I called them a few times wondering when my computer would come and their estimates were accurate.

Conclusion: 

On the whole I like this notebook a lot.  It’s a fairly decent system at a great price, the same setup specs at other online dealers were always $200- $400 dollars more.  I give it an 8.5 out of 10.  I would definitely recommend this to someone who wants a solid “mobile desktop replacement” (is that an oxymoron or what) with the ability to play the latest games/take on high end applications.

Pros:  

  • Fast system
  • Good price
  • Nice quality
  • Great looking screen
  • Ability to switch between graphics cards
  • Lots of ports.

Cons: 

  • LCD screen flexes a bit
  • DVD drive wiggles a bit
  • Slightly noisy fan
  • Will be obsolete when dual cores come out and 64-bit Windows Vista arrives


 


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