Suzuki's Budget Onslaught
Suzuki makes notebooks? Yes they do, and no they don't. Suzuki happens to be a local IT manufacturer who shares the same moniker as the Japanese automotive firm. The two, however, are unrelated. Suzuki isn't a neophyte to the laptop scene either, having already sprung a salvo of affordable 12 to 15-inch notebooks as well as netbooks to give budget hunters something to bite on.
Body and Soul
Our review unit in question is Suzuki's 15.6-inch Kuiper 1562 WKS. Its black matte top should come as a relief for those of you who detest glossy lids for being fingerprint magnets. The lid wasn't as tough as it looked though, for it exhibited a degree of flex when stressed. Fortunately, the wrist rest wasn't as flimsy.
The touchpad doesn't support multi-touch, although its scrolling function was adept in instances like navigating the browser for example. The Kuiper's well-spaced, chiclet keys reminded us of the ones found on MacBooks or VAIOs, but Suzuki is not the first vendor to be inspired by Apple or Sony designs.
Just above the keyboard sits three hardware keys. One's designed to start Windows Mail, one's for the browser and the other is meant for switching to the notebook's silent mode by throttling down the fan. There's also a bunch of LED indicators situated right at the lip, but be forewarned that they're really tiny so you'll probably need to squint to figure out what they mean.
Interface-wise, expect the basics with this notebook. There are three USB ports, an ExpressCard slot and a 7-in-1 card reader for the casual traveler. Interestingly, we also found HDMI and eSATA ports on the unit covered by rubber stoppers. The fact that they were not listed in the specs might hint at a different retail configuration or for future expansion perhaps.
The Kuiper came with a 1366 x 768 screen resolution that offered exemplary horizontal viewing angles. Naturally, as with most mainstream LCD displays, it didn't do so well on the vertical axis, being vulnerable to color and contrast shifts.
With notebooks these days commonly pre-installed with unnecessary software, the Suzuki Kuiper is a pleasant exception. Other than its 64-bit Windows Vista Home Basic OS, the only other third-party application is the BisonCam software designed for its 1.3MP camera. It's refreshingly clean, without annoying trial applications to leech your resources.
Testing the Brains
We'll weigh the Kuiper against the Dell Studio XPS 1640 since the latter is in a similar category with its 16-inch screen size, though their specifications differed. The Kuiper did fairly well on PCMark Vantage with a system score of 3140 compared to the Dell's 3448. Keep in mind that the Dell is using a much hunkier Core 2 Duo T9400 processor at 2.53GHz, versus Suzuki's 2.0GHz, Core 2 Duo T6400 chip.
Meanwhile, the Kuiper's graphics is from NVIDIA's G100M line and scored an average of 2444 3DMarks. This was way shy of the Dell's score of 5035, which uses an ATI Mobility Radeon HD3670 GPU. It's an indication that while the Kupier should be able to tackle modest 3D games, it won't be adequate for intensive ones like GTA4 for example. To add, its 6-cell battery was rather underpowered for such a large notebook, lasting a mere 94 minutes in our DVD playback test.
Undoubtedly, Suzuki's wallet-friendly piece is set to steal some eyeballs from its competitors, although the cut-rate Kupier is still far from being the ultimate workhorse due to its average performance quotient. If you're looking for a real monster, maybe the ASUS G51 might be a better choice. Just be prepared to pinch your pennies a little more.