Pointer manipulation comes courtesy of a trackpoint located just above the keyboard. This is a bit of an odd position for a trackpoint, since these devices are usually located at the centre of the keyboard, thus allowing you to keep your fingers in situ when you’re moving the pointer. There are two selector buttons next to the trackpoint and another two on the opposite side of the chassis – although this makes pointer manipulation a two handed affair.
The Flybook is hardly what you’d call conventional when it comes to its CPU. Unlike the majority of notebooks you’re likely to encounter, this one doesn’t have an Intel chip at its heart, in fact it doesn’t even have an AMD processor. Instead, Dialogue has chosen a Transmeta Crusoe for the Flybook. The Crusoe is a low power chip that promised great things a few years back, but advancements by Intel in the mobile arena put paid to mass adoption of Transmeta’s baby. The Crusoe is backed up by 512MB of memory and a 40GB hard disk – hardly major specs, but enough for basic application duty. Basic word processing, web browsing and email is no problem on the Flybook, but I wouldn’t recommend much in the way of Photoshop work. Unfortunately MobileMark refused to run on the Flybook, but I’d estimate about two and a half hours battery life, if used solidly.
Obviously there’s no optical drive inside the Flybook, but there’s a pretty strong complement of ports squeezed in at the rear. You’ll find two USB ports, two four-pin FireWire ports, a modem socket and an Ethernet port. There’s also a Type II PC Card slot, a D-SUB port, headphone socket, mic socket and finally a TV-out.
When it comes to wireless connection though, the Flybook is very well endowed indeed. There’s integrated Bluetooth and WiFi, but the Flybook’s real party piece is its wireless WAN ability. A small rubber bung on the left side of the casing hides a SIM slot which will accept any GPRS enabled SIM. With the SIM installed you can browse the web or send and receive email without ever having to search for a WiFi hotspot, or insert a data card. Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, the Flybook wireless WAN capability really is only GPRS speed, and not 3G as some reviews have stated. That said, a new version of the Flybook will be available soon that utilises the faster EDGE data standard.