The keyboard layout is a little strange. Although the Tab, Caps Lock, Return and Backspace keys have all been made large, as I would want them to be, the left Shift key is tiny, while the right one is huge. I find this particularly odd since the left Shift is the one that is used more often. On a plus point though, the Ctrl key is located at the bottom left hand corner of the keyboard where it should be, making keyboard shortcut use easy.
But for me the biggest problem with the keyboard is the numeric keypad. Now, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the keypad, and if you use a keypad regularly you might find its inclusion a real bonus. However, the knock-on effect of the keypad is that when you’re typing on the keyboard you can’t position yourself central to the screen, because the main keyboard itself is not central. I’m not sure if other users will find this as disconcerting as I did, but it just felt that I was positioned to one side while I was typing. To be fair though, I didn’t find the keyboard position slowing down my typing too much, and the action of the keyboard is actually very good – there’s very little flex even when hammering the keys and the spring back is very strong, bouncing your fingers back up, ready for the next key strike.
MV has again made good use of the space at hand, making sure that the touchpad is a decent distance away from the keyboard and avoiding any inadvertent cursor movement when hitting the Spacebar. The touchpad is a pretty good example and far superior to the erratic example that was seen on the MV Mobeus. Below the touchpad are two large grey selector buttons, while the right hand side of the pad can be used for scrolling through web pages and documents.
The last part of the ergonomic checklist is the screen, and MV has equipped the Ixius with a 17in widescreen display. The screen is a decent one, with a wide viewing angle and even lighting across the surface – I did notice one dead pixel though, something that I haven’t seen on a TFT display for quite some time. The resolution is also a little disappointing considering the physical size of the display, at 1,440 x 900. Now I can accept that it might add too much cost to implement a 1,920 x 1,200 screen like the one seen in the Sony VAIO VGN-A117S, a 1,680 x 1,050 resolution would have been a nice compromise. After all, the Voodoo Envy M:860 sported a 1,680 x 1,050 resolution with only a 15.4in screen. Of course MV has tried to keep the cost of the Ixius below the level that Voodoo sets, so certain compromises have had to be made.
The general design of the Ixius is not what I’d call stylish, but it’s not easy making a notebook this size look sleek and sexy. The lid is finished with a brushed aluminium panel and the shiny chrome centre square will have the MV logo etched on production models, replacing the stick-on logo seen in the images. Hopefully it will be the correct way round, so that it’s not upside down when the lid is open.
Connectivity is very well catered for. For wired connections there’s an integrated Realtek 10/100/Gigabit Ethernet adapter as well as a 56K modem. If you prefer wireless connectivity you won’t be disappointed either – there’s an 802.11b/g WiFi adapter as well as integrated Bluetooth. There’s also what looks like an IrDA port, but I couldn’t get any other IR devices to recognise or connect to it.