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MANY people who still want to have a computer opt to buy a cheaper model to save on cost and perhaps leave some mo re for other items to buy. Red Fox is now one of the cheaper brand names in the desktop and notebook PC market that can appeal to a wider range of buyers. However, its first foray in the ânetbookâ business through its AMD Geode-powere d Wizbook was a difficult one, especially when it left out certain features tha t would normally be found in other models, especially a webcam. But the first batch of Wizbook LX800 can take pride in having the longest batte ry life for a netbook since it uses a 3-cell 2200 milliampere-hour (mAh) batter y that allows the Wizbook LX800 and the lower model LX700 to last for at least four hours. But after six months, Red Fox started offering the Wizbook 1020i, which is usin g the Intel Atom processor. Incidentally, the 1020i is actually the LX800 with an Atom processor, plus additional 512 megabytes of memory to make it 1 gigabyt e. It also comes with a webcam and a more powerful 4000 mAh 6-cell battery. The Wizbook 1020i also comes in Linpus Linux or Microsoft Windows XP . The model reviewed by INQUIRER.NET is the Linpus Linux version of Wizbook. Th is new model seems to be a better choice than the first batch of Wizbook models though there are still kinks. Design and construction The Wizbook 1020i is basically the Wizbook LX800 with a few more bells and whis tles. Apart from the upgrades mentioned, the new model now has a third USB port and a larger 80 Gb hard disk drive. The 1020i also comes in three colors: red, black and a two-tone red and black model. The 1020i also weighs slightly heavier than previous models at 1.2 kilograms bu t is lightweight when compared to other models in the 10-inch class. The plasti c bezel protecting the 1020i is smooth and shiny and the red model looks partic ularly noticeable with its bright red tone. It also has a 0.3 megapixel webcam; a low-end unit by many standards but still works as the screen itself is not big enough to render high-quality videos. Screen and keyboard The screen is 10.2-inches and offer s a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. This works well when playing videos in widesc reen. Using the Linux settings the 1020i can execute resolutions of up to 1024x 600. Red Fox says this is the maximum resolution even when using Microsoft Wind ows XP. It is also particularly bright for a small screen though it can be redu ced via hotkeys. The keyboard is a feature of the 1020i that Red Fox needs to be addressed. Even at 80-percent keyboard size, the layout is still problematic. Two Windows butt ons occupy too much space, forcing designers to make the spacebar smaller and t hus harder to press. The Enter button is also harder to press because of the Ho me button that has taken some space. The user will likely press the Home button instead of the Enter button using this current keyboard layout. Video and audio playback An integrated player in this device plays video and audio files. Most music fil e formats are supported but some video files are not. Thus you still need to in stall additional codecs to play these other formats. For instance, âWMVâ and âA VIâ video files failed to play on the Linpus Linux and so a separate Linux play er and all necessary codecs had to be installed. Linpus Linux also does not support âFLVâ video format. Youtube videos would not run on Linpus Linux, and again, th e latest Adobe Flash videos have to be downloaded. However, it would run much b etter on Windows XP. Audio was also an issue for The Wizbook 1020i. There were two stereo speakers b ut the power output is barely 1.2 watts, which produced âmono auralâ sound. Hav ing a stereo speaker, however, is not a big deal since most users would rather use a pair of earphones when playing music or viewing videos. Battery and connectivity If there is one thing that the 1020i can be proud of, it is the battery. A 6-ce ll 4000 mAh battery is not yet a standard among netbooks and Red Fox is one of the few vendors that has been using it. When running on Linux, the 1020i can ru n for over four hours (but not more than five hours), even while playing videos and browsing the Internet. Battery life can be reduced if the Wizbook 1020i ru ns on Windows XP. Like the previous models, the 1020i has a Wifi receiver. Linpus Linux allows fo r easy connectivity although it might require some getting used to especially f or those not familiar with a Linux interface. If wireless connectivity is not a vailable, the 1020i can also connect to the Web through the ever-reliable RJ-45 jack. Verdict The Red Fox Wizbook 1020i is one of the most basic Atom-powered netbooks. Red F ox has removed a few features, which is not necessary. But Red Fox still retain s a good level of usability for users. Despite some kinks, the Wizbook 1020i is a good alternative to more expensive netbooks in the 10-inch category. Besides , who can beat its P19,900 price tag. Full specficiations Intel Atom Processor 1600MHz, 32KB L1 Cache, 512KB L2 Cache 10.2" Screen, 16:9 Screen Format, 1024x600 Resolution Built-in 0.3 megapixel webcam 1 gigabyte memory 80GB hard disk drive LAN Slot RJ-45, Wifi 802.11b/g PCMCIA Slot SD/MMC/MS card reader Built-In Stereo Speakers, 2x1.0W Headphone/Microphone ports Three USB ports 4000mAh battery pack. Dimensions: 254x189x39mm Weight:1.25 kilograms
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines -- Laptop manufacturing firms from Taiwan are trying to out do Asustek in the sub-notebook category. Some of them are trying to steer clear from being labeled "Eee PC wannabes" but far from being successful and that's what they really are. On the one hand, the Eee PC isn't the first in the market but it was the one th at truly set the standards with the sub-notebook genre with PC-like capabilitie s packed in a small frame. These features include wireless fidelity (wifi) supp ort, Bluetooth, and the ability to run a power-hungry operating system with an underpowered processor. It also uses a solid state drive â a thumb drive chip, if you will, that is embedded inside a device no bigger than a school notebook. A relatively obscure brand Blue and another color-competing brand RedFox are tr ying to seduce the Eee PC buyer with their own sub-notebook models. Both are kn own for making inexpensive laptops (RedFox also makes gaming desktop PCs) and a re more likely to have an edge in the same market as the Eee PC. The Blue H1 and the RedFox Wizbook have been somewhat "upgraded" to run better and faster than the previous Eee PC 701 model. However, given the release of th e relatively newer Eee PC 900, it seems that the H1 and the Wizbook might find it somewhat more difficult to compete with Asustek's baby. Design The Blue H1 has good design features. The upper shell is a smooth, shiny plasti c cover with a silver plastic bezel. Its battery sticks out a bit from below bu t only because it uses an extended battery. The extra bulk in the battery actua lly serves as a lateral foot that keeps the laptop's bottom raised. While some users might scoff at this awkward position, it serves a more utilitarian purpos e since it is meant for air to flow smoothly out of the bottom. On the right side (facing the laptop) are two USB ports placed slightly apart t o ensure that thick USB plugs would fit snugly, as well as the LAN port and mod em. The power button is also on the right side. Meanwhile, located on the left side of the Blue H1 are the VGA port power plug and the microphone and headset ports. A multi-card reader is somewhat hidden un derneath the lower part of the device, just below and slightly to the left of t he track pad. The RedFox Wizbook 800 looks bulkier even if this sub-notebook is supposed to b e in the same size category (the Wizbook also comes with a 10-inch model). But just like the Blue H1, the Wizbook also uses a smooth and shiny plastic shell t hat completely overlaps the inner part of the screen. The left side houses the VGA port, two USB ports, the multi-card reader, and headset plugs. The LAN port is at the back of the device, along with an extended battery, which is awkward ly sticking out of the back like a tongue. The right side only has a PCMCIA car d slot, which gives the Wizbook an edge over the H1. While the PCMCIA card is o ld, it still allows for expansion devices, such as extra four-port USB and even a 3G antenna card. Powering up the Wizbook also means pressing a tiny quarter-inch button on the u pper right side above the keyboard. Screen and keyboard If there are any specific design areas that one should consider about sub-noteb ooks, these are the keyboard and the screen. The Blue H1 has a 7-inch screen while the Wizbook sports a bigger 8-inch screen . Both can only provide up to 800 by 600 pixels, which is good enough if you li ke looking into small screens. At higher resolutions and the texts or images in the screen gets smaller, thus adding to the strain of looking at small screens . But the H1's 7-inch screen wastes a lot of space as it leaves nearly two inch es of nothing but plastic on either side of the screen, while the lower portion has two speakers that sound more mono than stereo. If only the Blue added an e xtra inch to their screen, it would have made the H1 look better. Nonetheless, both the Blue and the Wizbook share equally good backlighting for screens of their size and the backlighting strength can be adjusted through the operating system. The keyboard on both the H1 and Wizbook are small, almost the size of the one u sed by the Eee PC. They both share almost the same layout except for the âEnter â button â the one on the H1 takes up only two standard key spaces, while the W izbook eats up three. Although space is constrained in these sub-notebooks, having a bigger âEnterâ b utton has its advantages, especially when trying to enter URLs (web addresses) in Internet browsers. Personally, I'm sensitive with using touchpads and almost never use them largel y because they lack the tactile feel of a two-button mouse. But because these s ub-notebooks are designed for quick work, users are forced to make use of the t ouchpad. Not surprisingly, both the Wizbook 800 and the H1's touchpad work belo w par. The H1's keypad is the tiniest I've found in the sub-notebook space, bar ely two inches in width. The left-and-right buttons are also far off below the m and can barely be pressed. Thank goodness the double-tap feature of the H1âs touchpad works efficiently. On the other hand, the Wizbook's touchpad is bigger and the left-and-right butt on layout fits the width of the touchpad. The double tap feature works well but there is a mild sensitivity issue even at normal settings. Nevertheless, the s mall touchpad still does its job well. Connectivity Apart from the modem and LAN ports of the Wizbook 800 and the H1 (the Wizbook h as no modem, by the way) both devices also come with standard wireless connecti vity using WiFi. The factory settings have these wireless connectivity settings activated but they can be turned off through the operating system. While activ e, both devices serve their purpose well by finding available public WiFi hotsp ots to connect. Connection is a breeze, thanks to wireless connectivity applications that come with them. If these are not available, WiFi accessibility can still be set usin g the operating system, preferably Windows XP. Connecting to WiFi through the H1's Windows XP is easy but isn't as much as I c ould say for the Wizbook. It takes a bit of learning and doesn't always connect as it requires some manual inputting of proxy codes. However, when this is set up, the Wizbook could match the H1 in speed and distance. The biggest surprise for both the Wizbook 800 and the H1 are their lack of Blue tooth wireless connectivity. Sure, few people actually use the Bluetooth functi ons of their laptops but because the H1 and the Wizbook only have two USB ports each, a wireless connection for other devices could be very useful (the two US B ports can be for an external mouse and hard disk). But the H1 has as edge over the Wizbook: the Blue has a web camera while the Wi zbook doesn't. It's another surprise because users of these devices almost alwa ys use their webcam for chat. As explained by the product manager of Wizbook du ring one conversation, their product is targeted at a different market. Still, it would have helped if the Wizbook had a webcam. Performance testing Both the H1 and the Wizbook 800 can be installed with just about every kind of operating system that would run normally on a notebook computer. The Wizbook ha d a pre-installed Linux operating system while the H1 had Windows XP. Their sta rtup is just about 15 seconds though this could considerably get longer as more applications are installed. Of course, Windows XP is more familiar to most users so it's just logical to fo cus a bit more on the Linux-powered Wizbook 800. While software availability can be a problem, the Wizbook and other similar dev ices are built to be used for quick and easy document editing, browsing and cha t. Luckily, the Linux operating system in the Wizbook has pre-installed Firefox web browser and NeoShine Office (an open source alternative to Microsoft Offic e), which are more than enough to justify the use of a small notebook. The H1 o nly uses Windows XP Home, which means users have to install other applications to fully utilize its features. All other applications ran smooth on both the H1 and the Wizbook. However, beca use Windows has a lot more support, it can accommodate other file types for pla ying videos and audio. It was harder for the Wizbook to find applications that could run file types that is not familiar with in default settings. Incidentally, the battery life for both the H1 and the Wizbook is almost true t o what its packaging says. The Blue H1 could run for four hours at standard mod e (no peripherals attached, Wifi disabled), while the Wizbook could last three hours. But when both are attached with USB peripherals and WiFi is activated, t he battery is drained at half the time. However, both still last longer than on e hour (or at least two hours when other peripherals are removed and only the W iFi antenna is active) compared with other laptops. Blue H1 Via Esther 1.0 Gigahertz processor 1 Gigabyte DDR 7-inch WXGA LCD monitor (800x480 pixels) 40 Gb hard disk Built-in speakers 2 USB ports 10/100Mbps LAN 802.11 b/g wireless LAN Multicard reader, web camera Price: 16,995 pesos (Linux operating system), 21,995 pesos (Microsoft Windows XP Home) Red Fox Wizbook 800 AMD LX700, 400MHz 512 megabytes DDR 8-inch WXGA LCD (800x480) 20 Gb hard disk. Built-in speakers (downward firing) 2 USB ports 10/10Mbps LAN 802.11 b/g wireless LAN PCMCIA slot Multicard reader Price: 16,000 pesos
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net PhotobucketTHE ULTRAMOBILE PC business is heating up as more hardw are manufacturers are getting into the fray. Not to be outdone, computer manufa cturer Red Fox and AMD have launched the Wizbook, which will compete with the A sus Eee PC (which technically is not a UMPC). Although slightly bigger than the Eee PC, the Wizbook has a few features not pr esent in the Eee PC, in particular a bigger hard disk, a larger LCD screen, and a PC card slot. Red Fox claims that it also has twice the battery life of the Eee PC. But there are some features that are absent from the Wizbook, particularly an i ntegrated web camera, an extra USB slot (the Eee PC has three whereas the Wizbo ok only has two), and a lower memory module. The Wizbook uses a traditional 2.5-inch laptop hard disk drive while the Eee PC uses a solid state drive. But like the Eee PC, the Wizbook is pre-installed with a Linux operating system , though it can also coe installed with the Microsoft Windows XP operating syst em. Red Fox product manager Dio Vasquez explained that some of the absent features in the Wizbook were "unnecessary" for their target market, particularly the web camera which he said is rarely used. Here's a video I took when I interviewed Vasquez. Vasquez added there are still some problems with using a solid state drive. He cited reports of overheating with prolonged use of the SSD that could be risky with UMPCs. He noted that the Wizbook is targeted at UMPC users who want to enjoy the full features of standard notebooks. The two Wizbook models also have different keyb oard sizes; the 8-inch model uses smaller keyboard buttons just like the Eee PC but the 10-inch model has a full-size keyboard. "The market for UMPCs is still a niche but is quite big. The Wizbook models wil l target even more specific segments of the UMPC market," Vasquez said. The WizBook is powered by an AMD Geode processor running at 500 megahertz, whic h directly competes with the underpowered 1 gigahertz Intel Celeron processor i nstalled in the Eee PC. Here's a video I took of AMD channel sales manager Sonny Sy answering questions regarding the AMD Geode, a low-power processor designed for ultramobile PCs. S y is flanked by (from left) Red Fox provincial sales manager Bernard Yeo, Red F ox sales and marketing manager Sue Ong, and Vasquez. Both the 8-inch and 10-inch models have 512 megabytes of memory, integrated 802 .11b/g wireless connectivity and Bluetooth, as well as LAN ports and a PCMCIA c ard slot. The 8-inch model uses a 20-gigabyte 2.5-inch hard disk while the 10-i nch model uses a 60 GB hard disk drive. The models do not use the same battery: the WizBook 800 (which is what Red Fox calls the 8-inch model) uses a 2200 mAH lithium-ion battery that could last up to 3.5 hours while the 10-inch Wizbook uses a 4200 mAH battery that lasts up to 4.5 hours. However, all other connections (Bluetooth, WiFi, LAN) have to be tu rned off to achieve the maximum battery life. The Wizbook 800 is priced at P16,000 while the 10-inch Wizbook is pegged at P19 ,800.



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