I am currently a student who has been wanting to get a notebook for quite some time now. I spent about three months searching for a good high quality notebook, that could take a small beating. At first I was looking for a desktop replacement notebook that had everything but a large screen and desktop processor. I initially was saving up for the Portable One MX, but when I saw the EX, I knew it was the perfect balance of power for money. I am not trying to discourage the MX but I have little to no interest in gaming on a notebook. The EX is a 14″ widescreen notebooks, weighing in at 5.5 lbs. It is a good size for someone who is constantly carrying a notebook with them and doesn’t want a screen size too small.
Purchased from. Portable One:
I came across Portable One, trying to find a cheap Fujitsu reseller. Their selection of notebooks seemed limited and after a few mouse clicks I passed the web site not knowing that I would return months later. When I returned, I checked out their Fujitsu notebooks again, but noticed the Portable One notebook tab. I have never heard of Portable One notebooks and what I discovered was an awesome treasure. Portable One buys whitebooks, notebooks without large brand names plastered over them and customizes them to customer specifications, keeping the customer in mind. They currently have four lines of notebooks:
- The UX series: THE ultra portable with awesome battery life.
- The MX series: A gamer’s dream notebook in a very portable package.
- The SR series: A rugged yet stylish notebook for road warriors and the military.
- The EX series: A toned down MX notebooks, without a dedicated video card.
Portable One is also one of the only notebook makers that adds the option of having an outdoor display. Although the upgrade seems worth it for people working in a building with a lot of windows or wants to use their notebook outside, I am not one of those people.
The EX comes with a free bag, wireless mouse, Nero cd software, Drivers CD, PowerDVD, Power Management software, System Restore CD, Media Shows. Windows XP Pro and System Suite 6 were an added package.
The PortableOne EX was purchased with the following specs :
- Intel (Sonoma) 750 1.86 GHz
- 512MB DDR2 RAM
- Intel 128MB shared VRAM graphics
- 60GB (5,400 RPM) Hard drive
- 14.1″ (1280 x 768) Indoor WXGA screen
- DVD/CDRW Drive
- With Windows XP Pro.
The ram is upgradable to the maximum of 2 gigabytes. The hard drive can be configured to a max of 100 gigabytes and 7200 RPM. There is an option for a Dual Layer DVDRW. An operating system is optional, and I initially ordered it without and didn’t realize that was the case!
Notebooks similar to the Portable One EX
- Sony FJ series
- Levono Z60t Thinkpad
- Portable One MX series
- Acer TravelMate 3201XCi
- Apple iBook 14″
- Fujitsu S6240
The Lid of the EX. The battery is the white attachment.(view large image)
Left side of the EX, equipped with two USB ports, VGA adapter, Gigabit Ethernet, Modem, CD/DVD player, and something you can attach a lock to. (view large image)
The right side of the notebook, has a power plug in, head phone jack, microphone jack, S-Video adapter, SD card reader, PC card slot, 4-pin firewire, and USB port. Also note the power button is on the hinge. (view large image)
Under side of the EX, where a hard drive, RAM and CPU can be found. (view large image)
Based on Asus’s Z63a whitebook, the EX series differs slightly from the similar MX series. The MX has a dedicated graphics card while the EX does not, the EX does not have Bluetooth standard like the MX (but it is an option if requested), and the MX lid is made out of a stronger material. The EX’s body is a light slate grey, with a light grey trim around the edges. The battery pack is a pearly white that leads to a little contrast with the hood of the notebook. There are two sets of five hot key buttons, both situated on opposite sides of the keyboard. The two mouse buttons are joined together and are not separate buttons. On the right hinge is the power button. And in the bottom left corners are 4 LEDS 3 of them glowing blue and one orange. The 3 USB ports have alright locations, with one on the right side near the 4-pin firewire and S-Video ports, and two located right by the VGA port which is on the rear left hand corner. The two in the back are pretty close to each other, and it is hard to unplug the bottom one without moving the notebook if you have something plugged in on the upper one. The durability is pretty high up there, due to a little stupidity on my part the EX had a three foot drop to a cement floor, a little scratch and that was it in terms of damage. The front lid, although not the strongest lid out there, provides little flex and takes some effort to cause ripples in the LCD screen.
Front view of PortableOne EX (view large image)
The indoor LCD screen on the EX is awesome in a dim atmosphere, but because of the glossy screen, if a light is shining directly toward the screen, it is reflected right back at you. Some people find that annoying. I compared the screen to a Sony VAIO FJ and there seemed to be no difference except the height of which the display was placed. The screen at full power is very bright, brighter than my Samsung SyncMaster 730 B monitor. There seems to be no light leakage from the top, sides, or bottom of the screen. The resolution is very nice, nothing is too small. Having more horizontal space is a welcome change.
Notice the glare on the bottom of the screen when exposed to bright light. (view large image)
The keyboard seems standard. There is no flex on either sides of it. One thing I like about the keyboard is that the keys don’t seem to be made out of some cheap material and are don’t seem like if I typed too fast I could start ripping keys out. Note where the Function and Ctrl keys are located.
I am not accustomed to touchpads, so I can’t really judge this one too much. The only comparison I can do, is that it is not like the Nintendo DS’s touch screen, where it is not as smooth and there aren’t any pictures. The scrolling side of the touch pad is hit and miss, sometimes it scrolls, sometimes it scrolls really fast, and other times it doesn’t scroll at all. The mouse buttons are probably the worst thing on this notebook. They are pretty large buttons and require a bit of pressure to push down.
Although I haven’t fully drained the battery of all of its life, I have come close. The EX has an estimated of 2.5 hours of battery life with maximum brightness, having the CD drive spin constantly and having the hard drive copy items, with the occasional game of pinball or solitaire in between. There is a program called power management included with the EX, which works pretty well in estimating battery life. The maximum amount of battery power it predicted with the screen dimmed, and only doing light tasks like typing was somewhere in the 4.25 hour range, which isn’t bad, nor is it the best. PortableOne, does offer an option of an optical battery which has been advertised to exceed 7 hours of battery life.
When I first turned on the notebook something seemed wrong with the sound, it was at a higher pitch than normal. I began getting a little stressed, afraid that something was wrong, it turned out to be a small driver setting that threw off the sound. It only took a few mouse clicks to fix. After that the sound is about average, it won’t get too loud, but at the loudest volume the speakers aren’t making static.
Heat and noise
The fan is to the top right of the notebook and is on about half the time I am using my notebook. It is not too loud, but you can hear it if you are trying to listen for it. The CD drive is louder than the fan, but not by much unless you are pushing the processor to its limits, then the fan gets quite a bit louder, but nothing some background music could block out.
As for heat, having the notebook on your lap for a long period of time like over an hour, you feel an uncomfortable warmth coming from the notebook. I have had this happen about twice, but I was gaming, and had the CD drive spinning. Above the hard drive on the lower left corner can also get a bit warm after a lot of use.
I think that the performance of this notebook matches its price well. The only time I had this notebook lag was when I was installing programs and trying to use the computer at the same time. This thing boots in less than 30 seconds, from its off state. I am personally impressed by that, because my desktop does not even come close. This is a pretty speedy machine with a Pentium M 1.87 GHz processor teamed with 512MB of RAM and a 5400 RPM hard drive.
Results for calculating Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy using the program Super Pi.
NotebookTimePortableOne EX (Pentium M 1.86GHz)1m 44sSony Vaio FS680 (1.86GHz Pentium M)1m 53sLenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo)1m 18sIBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)1m 45sIBM ThinkPad Z60m (2.0 GHz Pentium M)1m 36sFujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)1m 48sDell Inspiron 6000D (1.6 GHz Pentium M)1m 52sDell Inspiron 600M (1.6 GHz Pentium M)2m 10sHP Pavilion dv4000 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)1m 39sHP DV4170us (Pentium M 1.73 GHz)1m 53sSony VAIO S380 (1.86 GHz Pentium M)1m 45s
For the sake of understanding the praise that goes on about Portable One, I gave the customer support at Portable One a try. They are awesome, top notch. I asked several questions and received the answer by the next day, they did an excellent job of making sure that I understood what was going on, if I asked. Unfortunately I forgot to add an OS to my notebook on the ordering page and through a quick email that was changed. Although it added a small delay in shipping, I think it was worth it. There was a small error of the web site not saying my notebook was shipped, and I began to worry. It turns out, they sent me and email saying it was shipped and I overlooked it. Just beware that if you buy any of their notebooks it not be shipped the day you bought it. They configure and make sure your notebook is working without any problems before shipping. If you have any questions about their notebooks, feel free to give them a call, their customer service is awesome.
- Under $1,500
- Awesome Screen
- Very portable
- Battery life
- Awesome design
- Must buy online – Okay this not be a problem with some, but it bother others.
- The Function Key and Control Key are switched.
- USB ports on the upper left hand corner can be a bit difficult to plug two things in.
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