First Looks: Gigabyte W251U (Intel Core 2 Duo)

This Giga Bytes Hard!

This Giga Bytes Hard!

One notebook that turned a lot of heads at COMPUTEX 2006 was the Gigabyte W251U notebook. This is computing machine not just meant for the road but also one you can proudly showcase to your friends because it’s quite a looker as well.

Simplicity is always attractive

The W251U sports an ever classic black exterior with a metallic GIGABYTE logo embedded on the outer surface of the LCD shell. Aluminum-magnesium alloy is used to construct the casing, giving it a sturdy property that should see it rough out careless handling. Despite being a 12.1-inch notebook with obvious inclination towards portability as it only weighs 1.85kg, you will find that the award-winning notebook has no shortage of connectivity options. This is evident by a full suite of modern connections, wired and wireless. There are four USB 2.0 ports, a PC Express Card slot, Gigabit RJ-45 jack, Firewire (IEEE1394) port, an S-Video output, a VGA video out, digital audio/headphone-out and a microphone jack. An Intel 802.11a/b/g module and integrated Bluetooth v2.0 allows users to surf the Internet and connect to printers and mobile phone wirelessly. With an Intel Core 2 Duo T7400 (2.16GHz), processing power is well and truly on the high side, but because it uses Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 950, the W251U is unsuitable for high-end gaming.

Small and speedy

Onboard visual comes to users in the form of a 12.1-inch glossy TFT LCD panel with a screen resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels. In a step towards power conservation and enhancing visual quality, the screen is connected to an Ambient Light Sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness of the backlight according to ambient lighting conditions. Also present is a 1.3-megapixel camera for video conferencing.

The W251U is equipped with a fairly responsive keyboard but it disappoints by being too audible because the keys would wobble around in their sockets when pressed (similar to the old Apple iBook).

Gigabyte has fitted five shortcut keys on the W251U to make it an easier notebook for everyday use. At a touch of a button, users can turn the Bluetooth and WiFi connection on/off; reduce noise from the fan by instructing the processor to go into economy mode; watch movies or listen to music via Windows Media Player; check/read e-mail via Microsoft Outlook; and surf the internet via Internet Explorer.

The Gigabyte W251U recorded a score of 3616 in PCMark05 and 6593 in 3DMark2001 (1280x800 32-bit). Translated, the notebook is more than speedy enough for office applications and gaming titles of days gone by. Battery life is less than stellar for a 12.1-inch portable notebook. The bundled battery pack returned just 140mins in our DVD Playback test, which is not enough to power the notebook through lengthier DVD movies. The good news is that the stereo speakers located up front were found to be sufficiently loud for movies and music although we must admit the audio quality is tinny and left much to be desired.

Final Thoughts

The Gigabyte W251U may have shortcomings but all things considered, it is nevertheless an attractive notebook with the muscle to get things done in a jiffy. Bearing in mind that it has a full suite of connections and is solidly knocked together, we can understand why there was so much buzz about the notebook and why it was bestowed the “Best Choice” award shortly after COMPUTEX had ended.