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HCL laptops: Carry Me home

tech-reviews Updated: Feb 16, 2010 20:01 IST
Siddharth Bhatia
Siddharth Bhatia
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

HCL’s latest range of netbooks and laptops is called ME. This group of netbooks is replete with a new colourful campaign and backs the growing brand. Here’s taking a close look at it.

Design and features
The model we got had a deep electric blue finish on the lid and wrist rest with a dash of pixie dust on the surface. The keyboard is much smaller than a normal one, as are the Shift and Enter keys.

At a paltry 1.6 kg, the netbook weighs just as much as any other. The touchpad is responsive, keyboard centric and has an unmarked scroll zone function that works well. It is black in colour and has silver buttons providing a contrast to the aesthetic scheme inside.

The power button on the top right corner, again, is silver in colour. Overall, the keyboard is ergonomic and tactile but since the buttons are small, you may need some time to get used to it.

There are blue LED indicators lined up for battery, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You get three USB 2.0 ports, one stereo audio I/ O on the left (mic in and headphone out), one D-Sub out and an Ethernet port (10/100). There’s also a memory card reader but no HDMI out.

This model has something that isn’t common in netbooks even now — a 3G sim card slot. Unfortunately, we do not have access to a 3G card, so we will use the Wi-Fi.

The screen is LED backlit, and is 10.1 inches across with a native resolution of 1024 x 600. Included battery is the regular 6 cell Li-ion battery.

System
The ME 06 comes with a 1.6 MHz Atom N270 processor and a GMA950 graphics core. There’s 1 GB of DDR2 RAM. The hard disk space is 160 GB and the OS installed is Win XP SP3.

There’s a host of HCL proprietary system software installed, and the recovery disc comprises utilities software applications.

Performance
The netbook is efficient and performs just as an Atom-based computer is expected to. For real world tests, we encoded a one minute uncompressed AVI file using the x 264 software application on two passes.

The second pass took 273 seconds, which is quite speedy. Audio encoding was checked by converting eight Flac files into MP3s of 192 kbps. This, again, took a healthy 518 seconds.

The file compression test included compressing 432 files with a total file size of 210 MB, using WinRAR. The compression took 164 seconds — which is again quite fast. A file copy test yielded the following results — a set of multiple files up to 2 GB were written at about 17.88 MB/ second.

This is a predictable average value, neither bad nor anything to boast about. We conducted a battery test using the Battery Eater pro software application, which simulates a fully loaded process.

The program took about 4 hours and 13 minutes to juice out the battery completely. In real world usage, the battery lasted us about 8 hours and 12 minutes.

Another very good point about this netbook is the bright, sharp screen. It’s great for films and other visual unwinding. However, the netbook couldn’t handle high-definition (HD) video very smoothly. It’s better to stick to regular DVDs and SD DivX video.

Verdict
At Rs 19,990, the ME’s price is slightly more than average but the performance is quite good. The keyboard may not be its best asset but the LED screen is very impressive.

Even aesthetically, the etbook is slick and pleasing to look at. All in all, the netbook is an impressive choice due to its above average
benchmark and performance results coupled with a nice exterior. The battery life could have been better.
http://tech2.in.com/go/108742 .

What we like
Average
Performance
Nice touchpad
Good overall build

What we don’t
Battery life is less than average