With the G-Max N203,
Gigabyte seems to have a definite target audience in mind. It should appeal to
the segment of laptop buyers who love the look of Apple's iBooks, but are scared
away by the unfamiliar operating system, or the prices. And why not? Out of the
box, the N203 is an attractive design.
Our cherry red version sported
a smooth and attractive finish on the outside and opened up to an attractive
white keyboard and bezel. The only thing we didn't care for was the thin mirror
strip on the top of the system.
The G-Max N203 feels very
solidly built overall. The case is very rigid and will not flex, which is
reassuring. The single latch holds the laptop closed well.
The 12.6" LCD screen makes a
mixed first impression. It's size is adequate, but we would have liked it to be
a bit brighter. The integrated video card was configured to steal 16MB of system
memory, leaving 240MB for Windows. This is not a huge amount, but it's adequate
for everyday office tasks, DVD viewing and Internet use. The viewing angles of
the LCD are quite satisfactory.
Our review system
shipped with a matching red Gigabyte GM-8U mini-optical mouse, identical in
shape to the GM-W9C wireless optical mouse we reviewed recently. This wired
800-Dpi mouse was a pleasure to use, and functioned smoothly with the system.
Users with large hands might find it slightly uncomfortable to hold though. We'd
love to see more notebook manufacturers include portable mice with their
systems, since trackpads are uniformly hard to use.
On the software front,
the Gigabyte G-Max N203 includes the usual 'recovery CD' version of XP Home and
the driver CD, along with full versions of Roxio Easy CD and DVD creator 6 and
Power DVD 5. The included manual and instruction sheet are well illustrated and
seem to be comprehensive (we did not get English versions for this
Aside from the software and
manuals, our bundle also included a black, padded zip up sleeve to protect the
N203 (though it's lack of handles means you are going to use it as protection,
not transportation) in addition to the nifty little optical mouse we mentioned
earlier. Gigabyte again goes that little extra step for its customers.
We were a little confused
about the warranty details for this product. Gigabyte's website states that the
company provides a one year warranty on the laptop itself and the power adaptor,
while the battery carries a separate six-month warranty from date of purchase.
On the other hand, our test model had a sticker that clearly states that the
laptop has a "two years warranty." We'll accept the website version of the
warranty as more likely, but we would have liked to have seen a longer warranty
on the battery.
As we mentioned, the memory
can be upgraded to a maximum of 1GB of DDR 333 SDRAM. A single empty memory slot
is available, so in the case of our 256MB Ruby Red model, 784MB is the ceiling
unless we decided to trash the original 256MB module. The free slot is
accessible via a screw panel beneath the laptop.
The hard disk is also easily
accessible by way of another underside panel secured by a single screw. We like
having the option of a hard drive upgrade easily available, so high marks to
Gigabyte for this feature. No other user-upgradable parts are present.