Posted by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief. Dec.
If the Sony VAIO TR2A isn't
small enough or cool enough for you, then check out the JVC InterLink
7310. This sub B5 sized elegant unit weighs only a bit over 2 pounds
and packs a 1 GHz Centrino processor, WiFi and a wide screen display.
Like so many ultraportable notebooks, the JVC isn't sold in the
US, alas. However, importers come to the rescue, offering the JVC
along with other ultra-cool Japanese notebooks. We received our
review unit from ICUBE,
an importer located in the US who also has an office in Japan. Dynamism,
another well-known importer also offers the JVC, but at press time,
charges $200 more than ICUBE. The JVC from ICUBE comes with the
US English version of Windows XP Professional, a printed owner's
manual (in Japanese), a CD of value-added software (Japanese versions),
a Pinnacle Studio 8 CD, an internal and an external battery.
The tiny JVC 7310 comes with Windows
XP Pro Edition.
The JVC has an attractive and unique gloss black finish,
reminiscent of a car paint job or the black enamel finish found on high
end home appliances. The case is made of metal, and the unit feels solid
and well-built. The two hinges have a chrome finish, while the front
latch and mouse buttons have a brushed aluminum finish. The inner surfaces
surrounding the keyboard and LCD are matt black, to reduce glare. Two
speakers surround the three button track pad, and all ports are located
on the left and right sides of the notebook. The display section can
be swung all the way back, so the notebook is opened completely flat
if you wish.
The InterLink has an internal battery that looks modular,
though I couldn't find any way to remove it. The unit comes with a standard
battery in addition to the internal battery, and that clips onto the
rear of the notebook, adding 1 inch of depth and several ounces in weight
(see photo below on the right).
Top view, closed.
Top view, closed with included
external battery attached on the rear.
The keyboard is small (as you'd expect on a unit of
this size) and has 16mm key travel. You'll likely spend some time adjusting
to the small keyboard, but it is touch typeable. Since this is a Japanese
model, the keys are masked with both English and Kanji characters. The
English letters are actually larger than the Kanji characters and are
easy to see. All letters are where you'd expect them to be, but most
punctuation are not in the standard US location. If you're a touch typist,
this will slow you down. The keyboard has a full row of function keys,
and a dedicated number row. The shift, backspace, delete, space, tab
and caps lock keys are all in the standard US layout location. Since
this unit is so small there isn't room for a trackpad, so instead it
has an eraser stick pointing device. The IBM TrackPoint pointing stick
lives between the g,h,b and n keys, while the three mouse buttons (left
click, right click and scroll) are below the keyboard in the wrist rest
Ultra-light subnotebooks are not speed demons compared
to their full-sized notebook brethren. High speed, state of the art processors
don't jibe well with "miniaturization" because of heat dissipation
issues. The cost of high-end processors is also a concern, since you're
already paying extra for that small size. That said, the Intel Ultra
Low Voltage Mobile Pentium M processor running at 1GHz is plenty fast
for even demanding applications. The Intel Centrino technology improves
speed while keeping power requirements low. What is Centrino? It's Intel's
name for their new notebook architecture released this year which combines
their new Pentium M processor, 855 chipset and the Intel PRO/Wireless
2100 WiFi 802.11 network interface. The Pentium M is supposed to be significantly
faster than mobile Pentium 4 processors, yet it uses very little power.
The M was designed from the ground up as a mobile processor where low
power, heat dissipation and excellent speed performance were the goals,
rather than being a shrunk down desktop processor. Centrino definitely
hit the mark, and represents a very exciting technology.
The JVC comes with 256 megs of RAM and runs Windows
XP Professional Edition (US English). That's the minimum amount of RAM
you'd want to run XP, and I do suggest upgrading the memory to 512 megs.
The memory expansion slot lives underneath the unit, under a round door
held in place by three screws. There's one 256 meg 266 MHz DDR micro
DIMM slot and the manual states that the InterLink supports a maximum
of 512 megs of RAM.
The InterLink 7310 comes with a 40 meg hard drive.
This is likely one of those cool new Toshiba 1.8" PCMCIA form factor
hard drives, and it's permanently installed.
Screen, Sound and Battery Life
The JVC has an 8.9" wide screen display running
at 1024 x 768 pixels. It's an excellent display that's very sharp and
colorful. While things appear smaller on screen than they would on a
full sized notebook display, I found it reasonably easy to read text,
but your eyes may tire after extended periods of time. If you want a
B5 or smaller notebook, that's the price you'll pay, as there's no way
to fit a larger LCD in a model this size. The JVC can support an external
monitor at a maximum of 2048 x 1536 pixels resolution.
The display is driven by an Intel 855GM integrated
graphics chipset (a part of the Centrino package) with 64 megs of RAM
that's shared with system RAM. That's the same processor that's used
on the Sony VAIO TR2A and other Centrino machines, but I was surprised
that games which ran on the TR2A didn't run on the JVC (Age of Empires
II, Rise of Nations). I did however, get Max Payne to run after updating
the Intel video drivers from version 1 to version 2 (these drivers are
available on Intel's web site).
Two speakers run along the wrist rest area and provide
stereo sound. The sound is decent for built-in speakers. Of course, for
serious multimedia, you'll want to use the stereo headphone jack rather
than the built-in speakers. The JVC also has a mic port if you wish to
record meetings or use the unit for web conferencing. The unit uses a
SoundMAX integrated digital audio controller made by Analog Devices.
The JVC InterLink has an interesting battery system.
The internal battery seems to be permanently installed. This is a very
small capacity battery, and will probably last you one hour. A 2200 mA
external battery is included with the unit, and this clips onto the rear
edge just behind the internal battery, extending run times to about 2.5
to 3 hours. JVC also makes an extended external battery that will probably
last you 5 or more hours on a charge.
Ports, WiFi and Expandability
The JVC InterLink comes with Intel
PRO/ Wireless 2100 802.11b WiFi, which had very good range
in our tests. To turn WiFi off and on, simply use the slider
switch on the left side of the computer. The 7310 also has Intel
Pro 10/100 integrated wired Ethernet and a 56k modem. There are
two USB 2.0 ports located on the right side of the computer,
and an IEEE1394 iLink 4 pin (unpowered) Firewire port on the
left side. The VGA port (which requires a separately purchased
adapter) is located on the right side, as are the audio out and
ICUBE ships the JVC InterLink with Windows XP
Professional. The unit also ships with Pinnacle Studio 8 and their
Hollywood FX Editor (in English). Pinnacle is a very nice home
video editing software package.
Pro: An extremely small and light subnotebook
that's attractive and well-made. For an imported notebook of this
size, the price is quite reasonable. Though it's only 1 GHz, the
JVC feels decently fast thanks to Intel's Centrino technology.
The display is very sharp, bright and clear. It has all the ports
you'll need: USB 2.0 and a Firewire port, 1 CardBus PC card slot
and a VGA (buy the adapter). Integrated WiFi, Ethernet and a 56k
modem will help you stay connected. Cons: Like all subnotebooks,
it's not as fast as full sized notebooks, and the high res small
screen may tire your eyes after extended use. No included optical
drive means you'll need to have your own USB or Firewire CDROM
drive to install applications. Standard memory is barely adequate
unless you only use the unit for office docs, email and web surfing.
Punctuation isn't located in the usual places, which will slow
down touch typists. Battery life with the internal battery is very
short, which means you'll need to use the included external battery
much of the time, somewhat increasing unit size and weight. The
VGA-out adapter dongle should be included!
in x 1.16 in x 6.97 in. with internal battery. Weights
1.99 pounds with internal battery, and 2.37 pounds
with included external battery.
Display: 8.9" TFT
LCD display (1024 x 600). Intel® 855GM Chipset
Integrated Graphics. 64 megs shared video memory.
Can drive an external monitor up to 2048 x 1536 pixels.
stereo speakers; monaural mini-jack microphone, Internal
mic. SoundMAX integrated digital audio controller
made by Analog Devices.
technology. Ultra Low Voltage Intel® Pentium® M
Processor running at 1GHz. 64K level 1 cache, 1 meg
level 2 cache (both On-Die). Intel 855 Centrino chipset.
RAM: 256 megs, expandable to 512 megs.
Has one memory slot which takes a 266 MHz micro
GB hard drive, 100MB/s Ultra DMA Transfer Rate. No
PCMCIA slot (supports type I & II as well as
CardBus), 1 FireWire (IEE 1394) 4 pin non-powered
400 Mpbs, 2 USB 2.0 ports, RJ45 Ethernet 10/100,
RJ11 modem jack, VGA (requires adapter cable),
audio in and out.
56K Lucent softmodem.
Intel Pro 10/100 VM wired Ethernet. Built-in Intel
PRO/ Wireless 2100 WiFi (802.11b) wireless.
battery plus 2200 mAh Lithium Ion external battery
included. Extended battery available.