MiTAC 8050 Review by DDDa
After a little more than 2 months, it's my time to post a review of the Mitac 8050 model. It's already a tradition here, so...
Notebook Name: MiTAC 8050
1 Cardbus, 1 Fast Ethernet, 1 V.92 modem, 3 USB 2.0, 1 S-Video out, 1 RGB 15-pin out, 1 3-in-1 card reader (SD-MMC/SM/MS), 1 spdif, 1 line-in, 1 microphone.
- Other features:
ATi Mobility Radeon video adapter with 128-bits 128MB of memory, 15.4" WXGA TFT screen, up to 2GB of memory, Intel 855GME chipset.
- Selected Components:
Intel Pentium-M 735 processor, Intel Pro 2200b/g wireless adapter (Centrino package), 2 sticks of 512MB of memory PC-2700, Hitachi 60gb 7200rpm HD Model HTS726060M9AT00, QSI CD-RW/DVD-ROM Model SBW242B.
- PCI Listing:
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corp. 82852/855GM Host Bridge (rev 02)
00:00.1 System peripheral: Intel Corp. 855GM/GME GMCH Memory I/O Control Registers (rev 02)
00:00.3 System peripheral: Intel Corp. 855GM/GME GMCH Configuration Process Registers (rev 02)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corp. 855GME GMCH Host-to-AGP Bridge (Virtual PCI-to-PCI) (rev 02)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB UHCI #1 (rev 03)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB UHCI #2 (rev 03)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) USB2 EHCI Controller (rev 03)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corp. 82801BAM/CAM PCI Bridge (rev 83)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corp. 82801DBM LPC Interface Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corp. 82801DBM (ICH4) Ultra ATA Storage Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corp. 82801DB/DBM (ICH4) SMBus Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.5 Multimedia audio controller: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) AC'97 Audio Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.6 Modem: Intel Corp. 82801DB (ICH4) AC'97 Modem Controller (rev 03)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc RV350 [Mobility Radeon 9600 M10]
02:01.0 Network controller: Intel Corp. Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2200BG (rev 05)
02:02.0 Ethernet controller: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 10)
02:04.0 CardBus bridge: ENE Technology Inc CB710 Cardbus Controller (rev 01)
02:04.1 FLASH memory: ENE Technology Inc CB710 Memory Card Reader Controller
02:05.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): VIA Technologies, Inc. IEEE 1394 Host Controller (rev 80)
- Pure Grade
Grades from 0 to 10, as 0 beeing the minimum score and 10 beeing the highest, theorical, in comparision to other notebooks on Sep. 03, 2004 (date of order). This grade is "pure", which means it's not "weighted". So, a very less important feature, performing very good on what it is, can have a higher grade than something essential, but that doesn't perform perfect. Example: the touchpad had a grade higher than the keyboard, even if the keyboard is what some people really considers when buying a notebook. This just means that the touchpad is better beeing a touchpad than the keyboard beeing a keyboard. It would be unfair to have this as final grade, because this notebook could have the worst touchpad ever and I wouldn't care. But the keyboard, even not beeing so good, is essential to any computer. Also, I give more importance to the keyboard. Anyone can use this grades to see what notebook to consider when buying.
- Section Weight
Every section of my interest was assigned a weight (the more important, higher is this weight, from 0 to 100). It's much better to do that way because this also shows the needs of the person, giving not a plain score, but one that show what the notebook represents in comparision to what you really need from it. I don't advice anyone to use this and the Final Grade to have an idea of the notebook, because this and that are, essentialy, personal feelings. Use Pure Grade instead. This value is on the closed range of 0-100. If you don't know what a closed range is, ask your math teacher .
- Final Grade
The real score from the category and, at the end, of the computer. This represents the true score of the computer based on my needs and proportional to the importance of the other aspects of the notebook. So, the value oscilates from 0 (0 of pure grade and 0 of weight) to 1000 (10 of pure grade and 100 of weight). As Section Weight, don't use it to have your opinion of the notebook.
- Audio Features
The SPDIF port works fine. Didn't test the Line-Out port, but the microphone port also works the way it's supposed to work. Using the software control ("Sound Control") under Windows, the only supported feature is "Mic Boost", for the microphone, which seems necessary when using some external microphones. However, don't use with the internal one, or you'll hear a very acute sound, as a microphony situation. About the volume of the built-in speakers, just don't expect too much. You will have a "metalic" sound. The built-in microphone also works great, so you don't need to be near it to have a loud sound, which doesn't happen with some other notebooks with this feature.
- Build Quality
It's very good as long as you consider that it's not a rugged system. It's built of black plastic, but the keyboard area (no the keyboard itself) and the screen is most silver plastic. The screen or the chassis itself won't "creak" when you lift the screen or even when you pick the notebook up, which is a good indicator. The speakers are not good, but I think this is very common, so, don't expect too much of any notebook speaker. However, the small subwoofer under the notebook makes a quite good job, and the quality and loudness is much better than my other laptop, just don't expect to perform a rock concert using it.
The gap between the optical drive and the chassis measures less than 1 mm, simmilar to what happens with some areas of the covers under the notebook. It's not a fault at all, since the own screws tightness can change this gap, for more or for less. The battery, however, fits like a glove.
I would consider this notebook a very well made one. Also, it looks great, very thin.
- General Features
In this notebook, you have one PCMCIA card, fast ethernet, modem, the heated air exit, one USB, one S-Video and one 15 pin D-Sub port (external video device of your choice), respectively, at the left side. All them work the way it's supposed to work (tested, except the D-Sub one). Also, the delay from the S-Video port is not noticeable (using a Samsung TV which has a common A/V input, used with an S-Video to RCA Video cable, supplied with the notebook). The fan is not that hot even for a left-handed. More details below on "Mobility".
On the back side, there are, from left to right, if you're looking from behind: the power connection and two USB ports, one above the other. All those connectors are located at the right side, after the battery.
On the right side, there is only the media drive and under the notebook, there are the "subwoofer" and four covers. Don't ask me, I don't know what most of the covers hide, only that the greatest one hides the CPU and the fan.
On the keyboard level, you'll find, from the screen to your side, the power button on the left side, the keyboard and two speakers, a built-in microphone, the touchpad and the respective button, and the seven LEDs on the left side. You'll also find the holes to close the notebook.
On the front side, you have, from left to right, a 4 pin Firewire (IEEE-1394) port, a SPDIF, a Line-In, a microphone port and, just below the touchpad, a Smart Media/Secure Digital or MMC/Memory Stick reader. It doesn't come with ECP port (used for printer) or a serial port, which is not a problem to me.
- Graphics Card
Again, I don't have too much options to compare. I don't know any late desktop cards (I lived with a GeForce MX 440), and only a few notebook ones (most nVidia and, of course, intel integrated, the one I know most...). For what I can see, it's a very good card this one that comes with this notebook, the Mobility Radeon 9700 with 128 mb of memory. I don't have any good benchmark to do with it, and I'm sure this is not a problem, since you can take a look at dozens of them at the internet and forums.
The greatest thing about it is that it was the best I could find at the time, for a notebook of that weight and size. So, I couldn't be any happier.
- Hard Disk and Optical Drive
Even if I can't compare properly this drive, just because my other notebook is much weaker overall (it's a Celeron 2.4 Ghz, 512MB RAM, 30Gb 4200 rpm), this drive is very, very good. It's a Hitachi 60Gb 7200 rpm. I almost don't see its LED light turned on, which doesn't happen with the one on the other notebook. Actual boot time on the Hitachi (from power on to Windows desktop at idle) is 29 s, measured with chronometer. Your can be very different (probably more), because this was measured with only the drivers and some applications installed (right after receiving the notebook), like the Microsoft Office 2000 (Word and Excel), SpeedswitchXP, PowerDVD and ZoneAlarm.
The optical drive is a QSI, which has CD-RW and DVD-ROM functionality. You can see the capabilities of this drive on the section pictures.
It's not the best keyboard available, but it's far from the worst. It's harder to type than my other notebook. But since "harder" ("harder" as beeing more resistant, not more difficult) is very subjective, It's not a good description. The funcion key and Ctrl key are swapped, so they are in the wrong place. Honestly, I'm already used to it, but it was a pain when I got it.
Now, the greatest mistery on this entire computer: There are two "backslash-verticalbar" ( \ | ) keys. It would be good if the small one (beside the space bar key) didn't exist, and the space bar, bigger (see pictures to understand). Sometimes when I'm playing games, using the common W-A-S-D combination (now, gsferrari, I know what it is ), I press this key - and not the spacebar - to jump, for example. However, it adds another "near key" to assign to some action... it has its merits. At least on games.
The keyboard controls: the wireless at F1, decrease volume at F3, increase volume at F4. Some key that I still don't know what it does at F5, decrease brightness at F6, increase brightness at F7, turn on or off the sound at F10, turn on/off the screen at F11 and stand by mode at F12.
- LED Indicators
There are 7 LEDs on the left palm rest area: HDD, media drive, Num Lock, Caps Lock, Scrool Lock, wireless state, flash memory card; from left to right. The HDD and media drive ones mean access, and the others mean if they're on or off. The flash media light, for example, will stay on whenever there is a card inside the slot beeing used, even if you're not reading or writing.
Under the screen (on the screen part) and in front of it, there are 3 LEDs in each side, and all sides have the same ones. From left to right (with the notebook completely closed, for the outside LEDs, and opened, for the inside ones), they are: one that turns on if you're running from battery, other that is orange or green depending if the battery is fully-charged and the last one that turns on when you're running from an electrical power outlet.
It's not a very mobile notebook. For my surprise, it's quite light, just a little big. Anyway, these are personal opinions. Its dimensions are 352 mm of width, 252 mm of depth, 30 mm of height when closed and 271 mm of height when opened with the screen at 90 degrees. The screen itself has aprox. 395 mm of diagonal. You can get the dimensions in inches knowing that 1 inch equals 25.4 mm.
Another mobility related aspect is the heat. This is not a cool notebook. Probably it's not an oven like other notebooks, but its not cool. While using it at 1698Mhz, the fan is almost always on, specially when you're gaming. Even at 598Mhz, the fan will be on every aprox. 12-15 minutes, for aprox. 30 seconds, turning off after this. That's why I'm almost always using it with the Vantec Lapcool2 under it, which works more than great. The fan doesn't start anymore at 598Mhz, and just sometimes at 1698Mhz. A notebook cooler is worth it. Using Mobile Meter, I can see a difference of something between 6 and 9 degrees celsius on the hard disk. It's also good to tell that I don't have Arctic Silver 5 applied on the CPU.
There isn't too much thing to talk about this. Probably most of you that are reading this already know about the Pentium-M Dothan 1.7 Ghz. It has 2048Kb of L2 cache, which helps on encoding/decoding processes. Also, for those that don't know yet, this is a powerful processor that can perform equal or better than a 2.8 Ghz Pentium 4 on most benchmarks.
Very, very good. Nothing more, nothing less. Although the viewing angles are very good (I don't need to turn the notebook around when showing people pictures), the resolution is not that high (WXGA or 1280x800, 16:10 widescreen). Some people will find this resolution good, even the most apropriate, but people that need more things displayed at once won't find it good. I don't have any dead pixels, which is more than great.
I never use it. But for everyone who uses this, it's good, at least for me. The buttons are not separeted, therefore, you need to push the respective side of it. Putting it simple, it's a "two-way" button.
01- The Big Box:
02- The Minor Box:
03- Time and date:
12:25 pm on Sep. 13, 2004.
04- All that came with the notebook:
Start Guide, Intel Wireless CD-ROM, PowerDVD, Nero OEM, power adapter (brick), phone cable, S-Video cable (male at S-Video, female at RCA), power cable (connect to brick), other drivers CD, Invoice, Windows XP and Centrino metal stickers and Intel Inside sticker.
Compare to the Palm Tungsten E at the side.
You can open using a small sized Phillips screwdriver. The bigger cover gives access to the CPU and the fan and you can also see here the subwoofer at the right-upper corner. On the picture, the front of the notebook is at the lower side of the picture.
13- LEDs Close-up:
From left to right: HD access, optical drive access, Num Lock, Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, wireless power, Flash memory slot power (activated by putting a card and deactivated by "Remove Hardware", on Windows. Never tried to take out without doing that, though.
14- LEDs and Keyboard:
What's the reason of those duplicated keys (one at left of spacebar and another one over Enter) ?
16- Keyboard and Screen:
17- Screen - Front:
18- Screen - Right:
Not so bad. This bluish is also present on the previous screen picture (front). It seems worse than it really is, even if it doesn't seem that bad.
19- Picture Shown:
This is the picture you are supposed to see.
21- Optical Drive Capabilities:
- Battery Life:
All tests made with wireless turned off, from 100% to 0% of battery. However, the last 10% of battery life was calculated, not actual run.
- DVD Playing
X-Men 2 DVD plays from optical drive: 1 hour and 58 minutes.
[.Y..] - Vantec Lapcool powered by USB
[MAX] - Fan rotation level (MIN, MED, MAX)
[.Y..] - Optical mouse
[.7..] - Screen Brightness (1-8)
[0.6] - processor frequency (in Ghz)
- Internet Use
2 hours and 27 minutes.
[.Y..] - Vantec Lapcool powered by USB
[MED] - Fan rotation level (MIN, MED, MAX)
[.Y..] - Optical mouse
[.6..] - Screen Brightness (1-8)
[0.6] - processor frequency (in Ghz)
- DVD Playing
- Processor Performance:
- Super Pi
Calculation of 2M digits of Pi (~ 3.1415) at 1,700 Mhz: 2 minutes and 6 seconds.
- Super Pi
Final section ratings:
Pure Grade - Section Weight - Final Grade - Category Name
[(06*60) + (09*90) + (08*80) + (10*100) + (10*90) + (08*70) + (10*20) + (07*60) + (09*80) + (09*95) + (09*15)] / 760
Final notebook rating: 8.895