Taiwan's Giga-byte Technology showed off its new mini-laptop, or netbook, last month at the Computex electronics show in Taipei, and the company gave me a chance to try out its final, production version of the device.
The M912 mini-laptop really has some outstanding features not found on any other netbook currently, and at the price quoted for the Taiwan market, NT$19,900 ($654) makes it quite a bargain for the technology on board.
What separates the M912 from the rest of the pack is its 8.9-inch touchscreen that can swivel around 180 degrees. That device is going to ship with Windows XP or a Linux OS, and in future models, Giga-byte plans to use Windows Vista Home Basic.
[ For more on products in the hot mini-notebook category, check out our hands-on looks at the Asus's Eee PC 901 and 1000, Cloudbook Max netbook, Elitegroup's G10IL mini-laptop, and MSI's Wind low-cost laptop ]
The device I was able to try out used similar components as rival products, such as Asustek Computer's Eee PC, including a 1.6GHz Intel Atom microprocessor and 1GB of DRAM.
It took the device 40 seconds to boot Windows XP Professional Version 2002 SP3 (Service Pack 3), while a model with Vista Home Basic took 69 seconds to boot up. Booting up the Eee PC 901 was faster, but then it uses an SSD (solid-state disk) drive, while the M912 has a 160GB HDD (hard disk drive). SSDs load software faster.
The screen was fun to play with. The company put a stylus in at the top end of the screen that's easy to pull out and replace. You can open the laptop, swivel the screen around to show someone else what you're working on, or even lay the screen flat over the keypad to turn the device into a tablet PC.
After Computex, Giga-byte was criticized because the swivel hinge on the M912 it had on display was loose, but the company has fixed the problem with a stronger hinge.
The touchscreen was responsive, but there wasn't much software on the device I tried out to take advantage of the touchscreen. The picture quality on the screen itself was about the best I've seen in the mini-notebook category, with resolution of 1,280 by 768 pixels, and an LED (light emitting diode) backlight that increases color saturation and brightness while saving battery power.
Considering the screen quality and two 1.5-watt speakers onboard, the device is also multimedia ready.