Portable One MX Review (pics, specs)

by Reads (18,154)

by ams4, North Carolina USA

Overview and Introduction

I recently purchased an MX notebook PC from Portable One.  Weighing 4.9lbs the MX can be classified as a thin and light notebook. This model starts at $1799 and can be purchased at the Portable One website. I opted for the (1×1) GB RAM upgrade, which pushed my total price to $1999 before my student discount. This is not a budget notebook.

Specifications

  • Intel Centrino M Dothan 745 1.8GHz w/2MB L2 Cache 400Mhz
  • 1GB(1x1GB) DDR 400 PC3200 SODIMM(2GB Max)
  • Vivid 14.1″ SXGA+ TFT (1400×1050) Resolution
  • Intel 855GME Extreme Graphics
  • TravelStar 60GB 7200RPM HD
  • Modular Combo DVD & CDRW Drive
  • High Capcity 8-Cell Battery
  • 4 USB 2.0 Ports & IEEE1394 FireWire
  • V.90 Modem & 10/100Mbps LAN
  • Integrated Intel PRO/Wireless 802.11 a+ b/g Wireless LAN
  • Carbon Fiber Alloy Encasing
  • Windows XP Pro
  • 4.9 lbs w/Battery & Optical Drive
  • Product/Company Website: http://www.PortableOne.com

Reasons for Buying

After almost two years of lugging around my 9lb Dell Inspiron 1100 I decided it was time to upgrade to a more portable notebook. I needed a notebook for video editing, writing papers, and web browsing. I do not use my notebook to play games so a dedicated video card was not necessary. I wanted a quick and capable laptop with great build quality. I also wanted a notebook that weighed less than 5lbs. This would make it easy for me to carry to class and around campus. A high quality display was also an important feature. Luckily the MX met all of these needs. It is very light and quick, and very solidly built. I was also considering a Fujitsu S7010D and an IBM T43 but decided that the MX packed the most power and features for the price.

Buying Experience

The buying experience from Portable One was terrific. They have great customer service; Ivan heads up Portable One and is very involved and there to answer your questions quickly and accurately no matter how petty they are. I ordered the MX on a Friday and it was in my hands by the next Tuesday. Very quick! Overall my buying experience exceeded my expectations and then some. I ordered a notebook from HP earlier this year and the whole experience was a nightmare. They ended up delaying my order almost a month, and I ended up canceling my order. Needless to say, Portable One is a top-notch outfit when it comes to customer service.

Form & Design

Portable One MX (view larger image)

This notebook has a great look and feel. I really love it. It is all black with silver accents. Very low-key but still exudes a “business” look. Not boring or dull looking like the IBM T43. It feels solid and sturdy in every way. It doesn’t have the “plastic feel” of Dell or HP. The keyboard is solid and sturdy, no flexing at all for me. But, I am not one to be picky about keyboards.

I have two complaints about the “look and feel” of this laptop. First, the top exterior of the laptop gets your fingerprints all over it whenever you touch it. It is a minor complaint but it still annoys me to see fingerprints on my notebook. I frequently wipe it down with a wet paper towel to keep it looking clean. I am hoping to find a protectant that can be applied to keep my fingerprints off the casing.

Another annoyance I have noticed is heat radiating up through the keyboard on the left side. The notebook isn’t “hot” on the bottom or top but it seems to be dissipating heat up through the keyboard. This can be annoying when you are doing a lot of typing because you are feeling a decent amount of heat wafting up onto your left hand while your right hand stays cool.

Portable One MX top view (view larger image)

Front side of Portable One MX (view larger image)

DVD drive (view larger image)

Rear view with ports covered (view larger image)

Rear view with ports revealed (view larger image)

Right side of Portable One MX (view larger image)

Screen

Portable One MX Screen (view larger image)

This is one of the best features of the MX laptop. The picture is sharp, clear, and bright. It really is a fantastic screen. My LCD came with no dead pixels. Make sure you don’t mind a high resolution screen though. The screen runs at 1400 x 1050. If you are used to a 1024 x 768 the icons and text will be very small compared to what you are used to looking at. I really do not mind the high resolution because it is combined with such a sharp display that things are still easy to read. I must say this screen is sharper and much better than any of the XBrite screens I have seen on the Sony VAIO notebooks in my local Best Buy. DVD’s look great on this screen and text is sharp and clear. I give the screen an A+.

Speakers

The speakers are not that great. I do not consider this a negative. You should not expect great speakers from a thin and light notebook. If you want to listen to music while you are on your notebook then get some decent headphones or external speakers.

Processor and Performance

The MX comes with a Pentium M 1.8Mhz Dothan Processor. You can upgrade to a Pentium M 2.0Mhz processor for an extra $150. I chose to put my money into upgrading from 512MB to 1GB of RAM instead. Getting the extra RAM will improve your system performance more than the small increase in CPU speed.

The MX is very fast, quick and responsive. All my programs load quickly and I have experienced very little waiting or hanging while they are loading. Basic programs (web browsers, word processing) load instantly; bigger video editing programs being opened for the first time still load quickly (4-5 seconds). As stated above, I opted for the 1GB of RAM to improve my overall system performance.  I have no complaints about the notebook in this department. For basic everyday programs and video editing it is very fast, period. I have not had any programs crash or freeze up. 

I have not tried playing any games on this notebook and don’t plan to. It is not built to play games, look for a notebook with a dedicated video card if you are a gamer.

Benchmarks

Following are some benchmark results for those interested in raw numbers performance of this particular MX notebook configuration.

Super Pi Benchmark Results (measures processor speed):

Calculating Pi to 2 Million digits of accuracy = 2 minutes 3 seconds

HD Tune 2.10 Results

Transfer Rate Minimum: 18.5 MB/sec
Transfer Rate Maximum: 40.0 MB/sec
Transfer Rate Average: 30.8 MB/sec
Access Time: 14.6 ms
Burst Rate: 80.7 MB/sec
CPU Usage: 4.0%

Temperature: Started at 89 degrees Fahrenheit and went up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit at the end of the test. Still, the notebook did not feel “hot” to the touch, just warm.

Battery Eater Pro Test Results

Benchmark Options

Resolution: 1050x1400x32
Full Screen:  Enabled
Mode: Classic

Results

Total time 1:42:59

Keep in mind the Classic Mode is designed to find your absolute minimum battery life by putting your HD and CPU through intensive power draining processes throughout the entire test, so this result is actually quite good.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Keyboard view (view larger image)

The keyboard is laid out well and is very solid. It does not flex at all and feels very sturdy. Not quite as sturdy as a T43 but still very good. The only quirk about the keyboard is the Delete Key and Function Key are switched. This takes a little getting used to but is not really a big deal. I rarely use a touchpad, I prefer a mini-mouse. Therefore, I have only used the touchpad a few times. It does seem a little “jumpy” compared to the touchpad on my old Dell Inspiron. This doesn’t matter to me at all, because I hardly ever use it.

Input and Output Ports

The MX comes with the following inputs/outputs:

  • One VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin for external display
  • Four USB 2.0 ports
  • One EPP/ECP parallel port/D-sub 25-pin
  • Two Audio jacks : Head phone or SPDIF, Mic-in
  • One RJ-11 for modem
  • One RJ-45 for LAN
  • One 1394 B (Firewire) Type jack
  • One Infrared ports support IrDA
  • One Port Replicator connector
  • PC Card Slot w/ PCMCIA 2.1 supports one Type II

The inputs and outputs on this laptop have just about everything you need. The four USB ports are especially nice for hooking up whatever devices you may have. It also comes with a memory card reader.  The other feature that is nice is the Firewire 1394B input. This super fast Firewire input lets me hook up my external HD with a converter cable and transfer at twice the speed of a USB 2.0 input. This is great when I am transferring files between computers or backing up my HD. My only complaint about the input/outputs is the lack of a DVI output. When I am home and using my 19″ LCD I would really like to have it hooked up through a DVI port. I would think it would have been a no-brainer to put a DVI out in the MX. I would rather the MX have a DVI Out than the Serial Printer Out that it currently has. This would have been much more useful for me. I can use a USB port for my printer, but not my monitor.

Wireless

So far my wireless performance has been solid. I have been able to take my MX all around my apartment and I still get a very good signal. I have not tested the range other than that. I have had no problems with the wireless performance. You can get Bluetooth pre-installed in your MX for an extra $50. The MX also comes with an infrared port built-in.

Battery

At the time of writing this I have only had my MX for a week. Therefore, I have yet to make a road trip with my MX and fully test the battery life. It is an 8-cell battery, which will provide a solid 3 hours at the least if you are doing basic tasks. The system specs say it will last 6.5 with the main battery but that is probably slightly exaggerated. I would anticipate being able to watch a full 2.5 hour DVD and then some on a long flight. The 8-cell battery is a really nice touch. Most notebooks in the sub 5 lb weight class only have a 6-cell. The 6-cell often makes it hard to get through a full 2 hour long DVD. This extra battery life gives you the freedom to comfortably watch a DVD on a long flight and still have some left for any work you might want to get done. I definitely prefer the 8-cell to the traditional 6-cell that is found in this notebook category. I did run Battery Eater Pro Benchmark on the notebook as you can see above. It lasted for 103 minutes in the Classic test mode.

Operating System and Software

This is another area where the MX shines. It comes with a very basic and very CLEAN set-up. It comes preloaded with the VCOM Security Suite which has been a pleasure to use. It takes up very little system resources and gets the job done admirably. It also comes with Nero, which is a very capable and easy to use CD burning utility. Also included is a premium subscription to Inspice Trace and Recover for 3 Years. This is very easy to set-up and gives you some extra security. If your laptop is stolen you can log-on to your account and report it stolen. They will then trace your laptop to a specific location based on the notebooks IP address. You also have the ability to remotely delete your files if you choose to set up the program that way. The MX comes pre-loaded with Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird, another nice touch. Also included is PowerDVD.

When you get your MX it will be clean and free of all the junk that all major manufacturers will throw on your system. The MX has nothing of the sort, it is clean and quick. It is unfortunate that most companies will load your system down with all kinds of junk before it is even in your hands.

Warranty and Customer Support

Portable One provides a 1 Year Warranty free of charge. You can also add a 3 Year Warranty for an extra $100. I purchased my MX with my American Express card which automatically adds an extra year on to my warranty. A two year warranty is plenty for me. The Customer Service at Portable One is bar-none as I stated before. You will not find the personal level of service they provide from any of the big name manufacturers.

Pros

  • Light-weight (4.9 pounds)
  • 8-Cell Battery
  • Beautiful Display
  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Great bang for your buck (top-notch components at a moderate price)
  • Fast and quiet

Cons

  • Fingerprints on the top of the casing (as explained above)
  • Heat dissipating up through the left side of the keyboard
  • No DVI Out
  • No S-Video Out (Not a problem for me, maybe for some)
  • No Dedicated Video Card (Again, not a big deal for me, but would have been a nice addition)

Conclusion

I must say the MX has more than exceeded my expectations. It runs all programs quickly and efficiently. It is built like a rock and it looks very professional and sleek. The MX is quiet and does not get too hot on your lap. My only real gripes with the MX are it not having DVI Out, the heat coming up through the left side of the keyboard, and the aforementioned fingerprint issue. Other than that the machine is fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone who is in the market for a thin and light laptop. It is built with premium components and it shows in looks and performance. You also won’t deal with better customer service when buying a notebook. Portable One is in a class of its own when it comes to customer service. The MX gets two thumbs up from me.

Pricing and Availability



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