ODM: ECS 600
CPU: Intel Pentium M Processor (750) 1,86GHz 533MHz FSB, 2MB L2 cache
Screen: 15.4" glossy (CSV) widescreen WXGA (1280x800)
Video: Radeon mobility ATI x700 128MB
Memory: 1GB RAM DDR333
HD: 80GB 5400rpm
Optical Drive: DL DVD+-RW 8x/4x/24x
Battery: 8 Cell Li-ion 4400mA
Sound: AC'97 2.2, 2 x Built-in stereo speakers,1 x Sub-Woofer, S/PDIF, build in mic
Other: Giabyte Ethernet, Wireless LAN, 4 USB 2.0, 1 Firewire
Size: 363.0(W) x 281.0(D) x 27.0(H)mm/30.0 mm (front/back)
Weight: 3kg with battery
Aquamark3 score: 29114
Super PI (1M): 41 seconds
Nero CD DVD Speed: average 6.11x (verbatim DVD-R 8x media)
ITC Specifications page
ECS page (600L is nearest to this model)
SUMMARY (after 8 months of use)
Despite being impressive on paper overall the M6453/ECS 600 was a huge disappointment. The build quality was poor, the fans were extremely loud and it was RMA'ed twice, once due to hardware once due to being given old problematic drivers. My experiences with both the retailer (Best Deal 4 U) and the wholesaler/distributor (ITC were also far from satisfactory. This model has been superseded but some retailers may still be stocking it and the current ECS 600L looks to be very similar apart from the graphics specifications.
Overall Rating: 4/10
Initial reactions/reason for buying
After having a Shuttle SFF (SN45G) for nearly two years I thought I would go the mobile route for increased portability and because of illness which caused me to be increasingly bedbound. Due to this illness I could only shop online so I did as much research as I could and narrowed it down to two choices. After a stressful time with the retailer and a swapping of models (see Beware the Retailer below) I received the ITC Millennia 6453. Immediately I noticed that sometimes after pressing the power button the notebook would whirr into life but nothing would be displayed on the screen (although the backlight was one). Also after testing the DVD-RW thoroughly I found it burnt mainly coasters (normal or dual layer media) so in the first two weeks it was returned to ITC, where the notebook was swapped, using the existing CPU and memory while a new DVD writer was installed.
The Build Quality
The build quality of the ECS 600 is very poor. All of the exterior is plastic with a a faux metal look. The palm rest area scratches and marks very easily (watch your watches) and during the 8 months it got a crack approximately 1cm near the pointer, how I'm not sure, probably due to how the screen snapping shut. The movement of the screen from opening to shutting or vice versa was not a smooth process but happened as a series of jerks. Also annoying was that the screen did not lock into the base which was slightly unnerving when carrying the sucker around. The grills for the 3 speakers are also of low quality and prone to denting and paint scrapping off.
I've got to admit the screen was lovely. I do prefer the shine and rich colours of glossy screens, and this used a Clear Super View (CSV) display. The resolution was only 1280x800 but that was enough for my purposes. No dead pixels at any stage.
Like the chassis, poor overall. A lot of flex so I mainly used an external keyboard. The pointer was adequate but due to the plastic being easily marked I also used an external mouse.
Fairly solid overall. I didn't end up using it for games so only really ran 3DMark to stress the graphics but at the time it of purchase the 3DMark score was decent. Watching DVDs was nice but it would stutter several times during playback of a movie via the DVD drive. However what marred the performance was the extreme loudness of...
During idle/low use they were very quiet but would kick into high gear about 1.5 hours from bootup, for a short while then go down again, usually. However if any CPU/memory intensive program was used, and even strangely Dreamweaver they would go to the highest setting which was really, really loud (two 50mm fans underneath, one in the middle one upper right under the CPU). Much louder than any notebook, my previous Shuttle or any standard desktop I've ever heard. Also they would increase, decrease in a yo yo pattern which was even more annoying than if they just went full out. I could understand that they might need to go to full for games or video encoding but for Dreamweaver? And Nortan Winfax? There was no way to regulate their speeds or check the temperature using programs like speedfan either. I even made a wooden frame to put the notebook on to elevate the screen and also to increase the airflow but it made little difference.
Was a Toshiba MK8026GAX ATA-100 80GB 5400 rpm with 16MB cache. Good performance and low noise made this one of the better features.
Disappointing as it only supported DDR333Mhz and the supplied 2x512MB Spektek chips seemed like a cheap brand. I was told it would take DDR400 but wouldn't make use of increased speed. Total capacity is 2GB. Also Memtest would freeze soon after testing the memory I was told by ITC that this because of a incompatibility with the notebook and Memtest. Very convenient.
The battery slots into the rear of the notebook which looks good aesthetically but makes the battery format quite proprietary - no eBay cheapies. The performance was decent at first about 2.5 hours but the wear level got to 7% and that was with the battery removed for about 4 of the 8 months and wrapped in the fridge.
It needs a special version of the Radeon mobility x700 driver. The driver which came on the installation disk caused screen corruption and blanking with many applications especially word. I only found this out after I sent it back to ITC the second time, and after they tested it for two weeks solid. For the record the most up-to-date driver is version 188.8.131.5261 release Date 2005/07/13 (go to the ECS site under downloads). Even after telling them, ITC still has the old, problem driver on their driver download page for this machine! I asked about a newer version and was told by ITC that it would be available in a couple of months, of course that never happened, and I can’t see it happening for this superseded machine.
It initially shipped with a SSTcorp TS-L532A but after testing using Nero and other programs it burnt coasters only (Emtec and Verbatim DL media). It was replaced with a LG GWA-4082N (CG02 firmware) which had more success but only with good quality media (Verbatim normal, and DL). The burning speed averaged at 6.11x for DVD-Rs (so much for the 8x spec). CD-Rs averaged about 18x (spec 24x).
The sound through headphones watching video was great. The built in speakers were average, the subwoofer being very weak to the point of non existent.
Wireless internet worked well so did the LAN and modem. Didn't try VGA or S-video outs or the card reader (which only read a few formats). The USB ports worked well, I didn't try firewire. I couldn't get the inbuilt mic to work but ITC said they tested it and it worked fine. The software was disappointing with NTI CD&DVD Maker Gold v6.7 not even recognising many of the DVD drives features/speeds and the DVD software (Intervideo WinCinema (WinDVD, WinDVD Creator,WINDVR, WINRIP) being from 2002.
Beware the Retailer!
My first choice was a ASUS Z71V base built by Digital Star and I actually emailed the retailer Best Deal 4 U (Brisbane, Australia) to do a “price beat” and order that for me. The head salesperson, Millin, rang back and through high pressure sales tactics made the ITC Metabox 523 seem more attractive (for example they were throwing in a bag and USB hub etc). So I said yes and sent my money off that day. I never received an invoice or receipt for this transaction. About a week later I received the Metabox but with an inferior optical drive (it was a combo drive which didn’t burn DVDs), Windows was installed (I had asked for it not to be) and there was no case or USB hub. Immediately I emailed and asked for a full refund, as per my statutory rights and also as per their return policy. Millin rang back and said ITC would freight over the correct optical drive and I could install it myself! However I was unhappy not only with that but also with the touchpad with the Metabox (it was one of those built into the case and my fingers just would not slide over it, although the case is actually a lot better than the Millennia, Compal ODM). I then asked for my original choice, the Z71V and was told by Millin it had gone too far for that. He suggested the ITC Millennia 6453 as it had a conventional pointer system, and after a brief look at the product page, which of cause made it look fantastic, agreed.
Another unhappy Best Deal 4 U customer:
Also beware the wholesaler/manufacturer!
Once Best Deal 4 U had washed their hands of it, all future contact was with ITC. ITChannel is a small firm based in Perth Australia who import, configure then resell notebooks, and on the whole have had mostly good feedback. I found my experiences with their sales and service departments to be very frustrating. Firstly once the swapping of models had been okayed it took a month to get the M6453 because of stock problems. They were willing to loan me the Metabox in the meantime but I was continually emailing them as the stock dates keept moving.
Once I received the M6453 I noticed it had technical problems and the DVD burner was not performing to spec. So during the first two weeks it needed to go back to Perth (from the east coast of Australia) and back again. The idea is that they courier a box with foam shoulders to you and a prepaid label through Australian Air Express (AAE) and you send it back, they fix it and send it back to you via AAE, supposedly overnight. However due to the distance overnight was rarely overnight, it was usually two business days, and if was shipped on a Thursday that meant I didn't receive the package until the Monday. So for the first RMA, which shouldn't have happened if they had properly tested it - I was without a computer for 10 days. When the machine started to crash/screen blank soon after I got it back I persevered for a while and did try installing updated drivers from the ECS site. However the problem continued and at the 4 month mark back it went again. After ringing up AAE for the pickup I was advised I could drop it off at any Australia post office which I did. BIG mistake. Instead of being given to AAE for airfreight it was instead delivered by Australian post's own road service which meant much stress and it taking 1 week to arrive.
Once it arrived it took two weeks of testing for the service department to realise the problem was because of the old drivers, you know - the ones they supplied with machine, despite my many emails describing the problem in detail. So in the end they restored my Windows to any earlier restore point and put the working drivers on. So for this second RMA, which was totally avoidable and unforgivable really, I was without the computer for nearly a month. I did receive an apology and a letter stating the problem was with the graphics drivers (see attachment), but my request for a loan machine was ignored. I dealt with one person in the service department first and then he palmed me off to another who had seemingly not read any of my emails. There was no compensation for the stress, time and energy spent throughout the ordeal, neither for being without my primary form of communication and entertainment for over 1 month, when all of it was totally avoidable and ITC's fault?*
Other threads with problems with ITC or their products:
Tryout the notebook beforehand if at all possible. Buy a decent brand name, look at their warranty very carefully and do a lot of research on the retailer if you haven’t bought from them before. What happened? I made a verbal complaint with ITC but was only offered a lame apology so cut my losses and sold it on eBay (60% depreciation). I'm typing this on by girlfriend’s ancient Compaq Armada 110 while considering my next purchase, but you know what? I’m much happier. I don’t have to worry about the next crash, the next scratch, the immensely annoying fan or another round with ITC service.
*True taking a week to reach ITC was Australia Post's/AAE's fault and to be fair ITC do say not to lodge it at Australia Post if you can.