Portable One SXS37 Review

by Reads (19,528)

by Kevin O’Brien

The Portable One SXS37 is a 13.3” multimedia notebook, offering a ton of features in a lightweight package. With features such as an optional transreflective TrioView display for outdoor viewing, many external ports, and easy internal access for upgrades this notebook should be a hit with more demanding users. Read on to see how this notebook stacks up against the competition.


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The SXS37 offers a pretty wide range of options to let users design their system just the way they want it. Processors range from the 2GHz Intel T7250 to the 2.4GHz T7700. Two display options are offered, both with the WXGA resolution, and one being a transreflective TrioView screen for outdoor use. For the operating system users can choose between Vista Business or Ultimate, as well as XP Professional.

  • T7250 2.0GHz 2MB L2 800MHZ FSB (Optional 4MB L2)
  • 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 Memory (4GB Max)
  • Cinematic 13.3" UVA WXGA TFT(1280 x 800) Widescreen Display
  • Nvidia GeForce 8400M G 256MB VRAM
  • 100GB SATA 7200RPM Shock Mounted Hard Drive
  • 1GB Intel Turbo Memory
  • Super Multi Dual Layer DVD±RW Optical Drive
  • Three USB 2.0 Ports, IEEE 1394 FireWire & e-SATA Ports
  • Integrated Card Reader & Express Card Slot
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN
  • Integrated Bluetooth 2.0+EDR (PAN)
  • Built-in Biometric Fingerprint Scanner with TPM
  • Windows Vista Business
  • 12.6"(W) x 9.25"(D) x 1~1.35"(H);4.3lbs w/ 6-cell battery advertised (4lbs 13.3oz actual)
  • Base price: $1,399

Build and Design

The Portable One SXS37 has a very sleek and high contrast design. Our review model has a high gloss black lid with a jagged edge/sawtooth which is barely noticeable unless you look closely at the lid. The trim and keyboard surround is a matte silver, leaving the bottom of the chassis matte black.


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Chassis strength is top notch, with an alloy framework keeping the notebook quite rigid. The body of the notebook is also designed with tuners in mind, with full access to almost any part you would want to mess with. After removing five screws, you gain access to the hard drive, ram, both mini-pcie slots, heatsink/processor and anything else that might be of interest. This notebook ranks up there on one of the easiest systems to work on, and there doesn’t appear to be any warranty voiding stickers in place.


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Screen

The screen on the SXS37 is very bright and vivid, just what most users would expect from a multimedia notebook. Vertical viewing angles are average, with a narrow optimal viewing range. Horizontal viewing angles are better, with colors only getting darker, but not inverting. Screen brightness is more than enough to view in a bright office setting. My brightness setting was about two or three notches down from maximum.


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Display protection from the top cover is average, with moderate finger pressure on the back causing ripples on the screen. The screen hinges feel pretty sturdy, and they alone keep the lid shut during transport, as no clip is present. You can almost open the lid with one hand, but you need two to get past the initial tension holding the lid closed.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard typing surface has plenty of support, and only flexes slightly when you jam down on keys. Spacing and key size is perfect, with no area of the keyboard feeling cramped. Key presses are very quiet, letting you type pretty fast without disturbing those around you. Regarding the keyboard layout, one area that might be of concern for some people is the placement of function key at the bottom left, instead of a control key.


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The touchpad surface blends into the palmrest, with only a height change to define the area. A vertical line is printed for the scroll bar section, but you can adjust the width of the scroll area considerably in the settings. Using the Synaptics control panel section, you can also adjust many other features of the touchpad, including the most important item, sensitivity.

The touchpad buttons have shallow feedback with an audible click when pressed. The fingerprint reader is located in-between the two touchpad buttons. Compared to other Synaptics based notebook touchpads, this particular version I had to crank the sensitivity for smooth tracking, where I would have normally used the stock settings.

Ports and Features

The SXS37 comes with a wide range of ports that most people come to expect on notebooks these days, including an e-SATA port for external high-speed storage expansion. One item not seen on this notebook though is HDMI, but isn’t completely a deal breaker considering VGA is still capable of pushing HDTV resolutions.

The optical drive on this notebook would be considered a “fixed” drive, but could be easily upgraded by removing a set screw and replacing it with something else of the same size.

Port selection around the notebook is fairly good, with most almost all free-space used by some type of port. Going around the notebook we find the following connections or features:


Front: Speakers and indicator lights. (view large image)


Back: Modem jack, LAN connector, AC power, and Kensington Lock Slot. (view large image)


Left: VGA, CPU/GPU exhaust port, one USB, and headphone/microphone jacks. (view large image)


Right: Optical drive, e-SATA, one Firewire 400, and two USB ports. (view large image)


Performance

Overall system performance was very nice, with 2GB of RAM and its 7200 rpm drive really helping out. One aspect of this notebook that didn’t do too well was the graphics card, even with its larger 256MB of video memory. Compared to the Dell XPS M1330, which scored a 1,408 in 3DMark06 with the same card and half the video ram, the SXS37 was only able to 1,111. Even though its graphics performance was lacking, it still had a higher PCMark05 score.

Here is how the SXS37 stacks up against the other notebooks in its class:

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi.

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
Portable One SXS37 (Core 2 Duo T7250 @ 2.0GHz) 41.908s
Sony VAIO NR (Core 2 Duo T5250 @ 1.5GHz) 58.233s
Toshiba Tecra A9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 38.343s
Toshiba Tecra M9 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.299s
HP Compaq 6910p (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 40.965s
Sony VAIO TZ (Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz) 76.240s
Zepto 6024W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2GHz) 42.385s
Lenovo T61 (Core 2 Duo T7500 @ 2.2GHz) 37.705s
Alienware M5750 (Core 2 Duo T7600 @ 2.33GHz) 38.327s
Hewlett Packard DV6000z (Turion X2 TL-60 @ 2.0GHz) 38.720s
Samsung Q70 (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 42.218s
Acer Travelmate 8204WLMi (Core Duo T2500 @ 2.0GHz) 42.947s
Samsung X60plus (Core 2 Duo T7200 @ 2.0GHz) 44.922s
Zepto Znote 6224W (Core 2 Duo T7300 @ 2.0GHz) 45.788s
Samsung Q35 (Core 2 Duo T5600 @ 1.83GHz) 46.274s
Samsung R20 (Core Duo T2250 @ 1.73GHz) 47.563s
Dell Inspiron 2650 (Pentium 4 Mobile 1.6GHz) 231.714s

PCMark05 comparison results:

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Portable One SXS37 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, nVidia 8400M G 256MB) 4,700 PCMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 3,283 PCMarks
Sony VAIO CR (1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7100, Intel X3100) 3,612 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 4,153 PCMarks
Lenovo 3000 V200 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 3,987 PCMarks
Lenovo T60 Widescreen (2.0GHz Intel T7200, ATI X1400 128MB) 4,189 PCMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 4,234 PCMarks
Fujitsu N6410 (1.66GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400) 3,487 PCMarks
Alienware M7700 (AMD Athlon FX-60, Nvidia Go 7800GTX) 5,597 PCMarks
Sony Vaio SZ-110B in Speed Mode (Using Nvidia GeForce Go 7400) 3,637 PCMarks
Asus V6J (1.86GHz Core Duo T2400, Nvidia Go 7400) 3,646 PCMarks



3DMark06 comparison results:

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Portable One SXS37 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7250, nVidia 8400M G 256MB) 1,111 3DMarks
Sony VAIO NR (1.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5250, Intel X3100) 504 3DMarks
Toshiba Tecra A9 (2.20GHz Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 130M 256MB) 932 3DMarks
Toshiba Tecra M9 (2.20GHz Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA Quadro NVS 130M 128MB) 1,115 3DMarks
Sony VAIO TZ (1.20GHz Core 2 Duo U7600, Intel GMA 950) 122 3DMarks
LG R500 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS 256MB) 2,776 3DMarks
HP dv2500t (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,055 3DMarks
Dell Inspiron 1420 (2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,329 3DMarks
Sony VAIO FZ (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, Intel X3100) 532 3DMarks
Dell XPS M1330 (2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7300, NVIDIA GeForce Go 8400M GS 128MB) 1,408 3DMarks
Samsung Q70 (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7300 and nVidia 8400M G GPU) 1,069 3DMarks
Asus F3sv-A1 (Core 2 Duo T7300 2.0GHz, Nvidia 8600M GS 256MB) 2,344 3DMarks
Alienware Area 51 m5550 (2.33GHz Core 2 Duo, nVidia GeForce Go 7600 256MB 2,183 3DMarks
Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1526 (1.66 Core Duo, nVidia 7600Go 256 MB) 2,144 3DMarks
Samsung X60plus (2.0GHz Core 2 Duo T7200, ATI X1700 256MB) 1,831 3DMarks
Asus A6J (1.83GHz Core Duo, ATI X1600 128MB) 1,819 3DMarks
HP dv6000t (2.16 GHz Intel T7400, NVIDA GeForce Go 7400) 827 3DMarks


HDtune results:


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Heat and Noise

Operating noise from this notebook was slightly above other notebooks, but only under stress. During periods of idle activity the fan would cycle on its lower speed most of the time, only ramping up on occasion. Heat output was average for a smaller notebook with dedicated graphics, but the notebook tended to cope well under stress. The palmrest would get mildly warm, but nothing too obnoxious. Vent temperatures were pretty warm, but you never noticed it unless you had your hand in a direct path of the air.


Top temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit. (view large image)

Bottom temperatures in degrees Fahrenheit. (view large image)

Battery Life

With screen brightness set to 75 percent, wireless on, and mild internet use the system managed about 2 hours and 24 minutes. This was using the 6 cell 11.v, 5200mAh battery, but I would have really enjoyed seeing above 3 hours of life for a bit more off the grid use.

Software and Support

Hands down probably my best experience with this review was dealing with the support staff at Portable One. We had a few hiccups relating to software when I started to use the notebook, and email support had near instant response. They have a very friendly staff to work with for oddball problems that you might come across.

The notebook has minimal bloatware, if any at all. The only included software on our review machine was really just the bits needed to run hotkey features, and the fingerprint scanning program. Upon opening up the task manager I found only 64 processes running. Recovery software is all provided on discs, unlike on-drive recovery solutions found on many notebooks these days.

Oh, and for those of you who care, the two megapixel webcam produced better than average image quality. However, I noticed some unusual pattern noise in the background of some still images and my skin and hair looked a little orange in some video.


Sample still image from the built-in webcam. (view large image)

Conclusion

For a small multimedia rig the Portable One SXS37 offers a couple features not commonly found on other 13.3” notebooks. One particular feature is the optional transreflective screen, which would give this notebook quite an edge for outdoor use, where many standard screens gets washed out. Another is the super easy to upgrade layout of the bottom of the notebook, giving you access to more than even the more avid techies would want to mess with. Overall this notebook has a lot to offer, backed up with great support.

Pros

  • Sturdy build quality, strong allow chassis
  • Very easy to upgrade and mess with internally
  • Great support staff

Cons

  • Fan can be annoying at times
  • Touchpad really needed its sensitivity ramped

 


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