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The Gigabyte M912X is the latest netbook offering from Gigabyte Taiwan. This compact computer features a few exciting additions that we have yet to see from any US netbooks so far. For the most part the M912X shares the same internal specs of many other netbooks available. The core of the netbook boasts a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor, 1 GB of ram (max 2 GB), 160 GB hard drive, 8.9in screen, wifi and all your standard ports and card readers. What sets this netbook apart from the rest is the ability to switch in to tablet mode with the built in touch screen. Not only does the screen feature touch and a swivel hinge, but it also has a higher resolution than most other netbooks of its size.
Many other netbooks offer a 1024 x 600 screen resolution, however the M912X delivers 1280 x 768 making for sharper images as well as increased desktop real estate (which really comes in handy for displays this small). Other features worth noting are the integrated Bluetooth 2.0, express card slot and 1.3 megapixel webcam. Being this device is not available in the US, you will have to order it from an import site like Dynamism, Direct from Japan or Ebay. You will also be paying a premium on the unit because it is an import. Be carful when ordering though, some sites sell the Japanese version of the unit which has Japan and English mixed character keyboard. Dynamism offers the full American unit, the only downside is they are one of the more expensive import sites. These devices range in price from $550 for the non touch screen model (M912M) to $800 for the touch screen model. This is a little steep for a netbook, so if you don’t care too much for the touch screen or integrated blue tooth, then I would just stick to something like the Acer Aspire One.
Performance is about the same as the Aspire One. Web surfing, Office apps and photo editing with Photoshop CS2 all run pretty smooth. The keyboard was a little shorter and more cramped then what I was used to on the Aspire One, so it took a few days to get readjusted to typing. I would compare the keyboard size more to the Asus eee 901. Battery life is pretty comparable to the rest of the netbook offerings. The 4 cell battery offers around 3 hours usage with wifi on, and about 3.5 hours with wifi off. A 6 cell battery should be available by Christmas which will let the unit run for about 5 hours.
One thing I really appreciated about the M912X is the upgrade access panel underneath the computer. This makes it so much easier to upgrade parts, swap out PCI-E cards and hard drives, or do some mods with the empty PCI-E slot that’s available. With my Aspire One, I had to do quite a bit of disassembling in order to get to these components.
Now my new netbook wouldn’t be complete unless I could load Mac Os X 10.5.4 on to it for dual booting purposes. The components in the M912X aren’t quite as friendly with Mac OS as my Aspire One was. After a lot of fiddling and reading in forums I was able to get everything up and running except for sound and webcam. I went ahead and replaced the Atheros wifi card with the Mac compatible Dell 1390 mini pci-e card, which I got off of ebay. After I adjusted a setting in the bios the new wifi card was instantly recognized by the Mac OS. The touch screen drivers were provided by a company called touch-base.com and works beautifully. The drivers I download were just demo drivers, the full touch screen drivers cost about $100 dollars, so I’ll wait on those. The sound chipset (realtek alc269) is not compatible with Mac OS, there is however a group of people working on a fix for this. If you attempt to install Mac OS X on to the M912X, make sure you use the MSIWindosx86 image file, which can be found at the pirate bay. This install which is geared towards the MSI Wind netbooks provided the most stable and responsive system out of all the other OS X installations I tried. Again the M912X might be a little too expensive to start modding, so if you’re looking for a safer piece of hardware to try things out on I would stick to the Acer Aspire One. Not only is the price right at $349 but you can get just about everything working with Mac OS X for a nice and cheap dual boot machine.
Overall I’m happy with the Gigabyte M912X, it offers the most features out of any current netbook around. There are other systems out there like the Kohjinsha SX3 that actually have an integrated dvd-r drive, but you’re looking to spend right around $1,300 for it and it only runs Windows Vista, which is definitely not a good choice for any current netbook to run. If you’re in the market for a new netbook and like having the tablet feature, then the Gigabyte M912X is definitely for you.
Here are some size comparison shots to a Dell inspiron 15in laptop
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