Slim and light notebooks are getting more popular by the day. Now, even though notebooks of this genre have always been desirable, their popularity has been stemmed by the high prices that have always gone with this type of machine. However, we are finally getting to a position where popularity and desirability are starting to reach an equilibrium, mainly due to the fact that slim and light machines are finally affordable to the masses.
Obviously there are still premium products that command a high price like the Sony VAIO X505 and the IBM ThinkPad X40, but the Toshiba Portege A100 is a fine example of a Tier 1 ultra portable notebook at a more than affordable price. However, the notebook that I have sitting on my lap right now is even cheaper than the Toshiba, yet sports similar dimensions and weight, while packing in quite a decent feature set. The Mobeus is the first notebook to arrive from new UK manufacturer MV, and I have to say that it’s a pretty good first effort.
The Mobeus looks pretty good, finished in matt silver and black, with a single silver spring loaded catch holding the lid in place. Opening up the lid reveals a 12.1in widescreen TFT display, sporting a resolution of 1,280 x 800. To be honest the screen could do with being a little bigger, not because it’s difficult to use, but because the lid could accommodate a much larger display. The result is a rather large bezel surrounding the screen which unfortunately dwarfs it somewhat.
Putting the bezel to one side, the screen is a fine example. The image is clear, bright and sharp, with no evidence of dead pixels. Lighting is also even across the entire surface while the viewing angle is commendable considering the size of the machine as a whole. Fitting a widescreen panel into the Mobeus was a smart move by MV, and it mirrors similar successful designs from Sony and Fujitsu-Seimens. Small form factor notebooks usually have to make do with a desktop resolution of 1,024 x 768, but by incorporating a widescreen display, desktop real estate can increase significantly.
So, the Mobeus has got a good screen, there’s no denying that. But how do the other ergonomic features measure up? The next piece of the puzzle is the keyboard, and it’s in this area that you generally realise that you get what you pay for when it comes to slim and light notebooks. However, the keyboard in the Mobeus isn’t a bad example at all. OK, it’s no match for the IBM ThinkPad X40, or even an ultra portable Sony VAIO, but it does offer a resonable typing action, that’s not going to leave you frustrated and sore.
The keyboard itself is matt black, like the rest of the inside of the Mobeus. Layout is good, and MV has managed to ensure that the Backspace, Return, Shift, Tab and Caps Lock keys are all large, despite the restrictive dimensions of the chassis. Likewise, the cursor keys are where you’d expect them to be, and in the right configuration – they’re even dropped down slightly from the main keyboard. However, that old chestnut, the Fn key is located in the bottom left corner, right where the Ctrl key should be. I can’t criticise MV too much for this, since so many notebook manufacturers fall foul of the same mistake, but if you tend to use a lot of keyboard shortcuts, you might find it a little annoying at first.