Gigabyte X11 - Slim, Strong But Not Error-Free (Part 1)

4/21/2013 9:07:09 AM

Gigabyte seemed to be very confident in introducing the 11.6inch Ultrabook X11. Appearing shortly before the launch of Windows 8, it straddles two OS life cycles, with a feature set which is more loyal to Windows 7 than to a touch-centric future. However, with CPU Ivy Bridge Core i5, 4GB RAM and a SSD 129 GB, which was titled the slimmest Ultrabook on the world, is competitive as you’d imagined, this is a small, fast and powerful machine, but did Gigabyte sacrifice other interesting features in order to achieve such slim frame of X11? Let’s have a closer look on this unit, only available outside US, to see whether it is worth the import fees.

Look and feel

Gigabyte X11

Gigabyte X11

Gigabyte is really fond of the sport car style of X11, but this machine is good-looking and slender rather than bulky and flashy as the Ferrari series of Acer. In fact, we suppose that this is one of the most elegant design units that we have seen, not straying too far from the subtle lines of Macbook Air. It is wrapped in a package which is similar to the carbon fiber-esque sleeve. This makes it look like the owner’s manual of a Hypercar rather than an ultra-slim laptop.

Our tested model is not a massive-manufactured unit but the model which is made manually for reviewers. Its weight is 983g (2.16 pound), which the company claims to be the current slightest Ultrabook. However, based on the speed that this device is developed, we doubt that it will not keep that title longer. Another difference is the complete model will have a Window 8-style keyboard (With the newest logo of Microsoft, instead of the dual-language logo you see in our photos).

The X11’s wedge-shaped body is 13mm (0.5 inch), tapering down to 6m (0.23 inch) at the front. A chrome hinge contains two “sport car” vent grids, which look more attractive than the cooler that you see in most of other devices. The minimal designed details and the woven carbon fiber model make X11 look indeed like a luxury device – in fact, we think that this device will be fine at home when lying next to the Vertu smartphone and an mountain-goat-feather Armani suits in a luxury store; it would look fabulous.

Running down the left side are power slots, USB 3.0 and mini DisplayPort, while on the right side are USB 2.0, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a micro SD slot. The latter is an abnormal choice, but other 11 inch like Zenbook Prime UX21A got rid of its memory card slot, so it is at least nice to have removable storage to offset for the SSD 128 GB which is not expandable.

The power ports and Display port

The power ports and Display port

The 11.6-inch, 1,366x768 backlit LED display is surrounded by a bulky, 2 cm bezel on all four sides – makes the screen seem to be quite smaller and cheaper than its otherwise-great design. Above it, in the front and the middle is the 1.3 MP webcam that captures 620x480 pixel images, and of course will hide any notable blemishes, wrinkles on your face. However, it will distort the quick Skype chats that you will definitely have when purchase new devices.

X11 cause many headaches when you really held it in your hands. First of all, while the carbon fiber is strong and light, it is also lack of certain rigidity. We can bend the lid 5 degrees before encountering its resistance and we just stopped doing that because we were afraid of breaking the device. The bottom plate is secured by six screws, but – at least on our manual checking unit – it does not deserve its case. This means one side can be pushed in some millimeters with the clearly audible sound, a build quality problem that Gigabyte said to have been fixed in the massive manufactured products.

The well-known glossy product really attracts fingerprints, and the case of this device makes it look like we have just suffered from a sweating condition although we have dried our hands thoroughly. Bringing it outside without cleaning it by a lint-free cloth, everyone will start to offer many suspicious assumptions about your health, while it is planned to be a luxury product, the fingerprint-attracting case, unusual build quality and not-very-good screen.

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard

The keyboard

The X11’s island-style keyboard seems to be comfortable for using, but here, the first impressions are lying to you. They keys provides a few millimeters of travel, but the sensitivity of each Chiclet is very different that makes you have to note which key needs to use much pressure and which does not. Our reviews had to be written by our testing device, and the original document of this review had many mistakes.

You have to believe us when we say that our typing skill is not that bad. Obviously, the spacebar really suffers the same slowness in responding as some layout’s keys, and an engineer in our office thought that there is a switch which was located too far to the left. If, like us, you use your thumb to type the spacebar, you will see that your presses are recognized in half of the time.

Also causing the resistance to improve productivity is trackpad Sentelic, which is obviously not calibrated properly for palm rejection. Lean your hand too far for about 1 millisecond, the cursor will jump into your already-written text, which causes misspelling. That sensitivity makes the general use turn out to be complex, frustrating that phantom clicks and drags appear more frequently.

While the touchpad is too fast in terms of the accidental movements, it seems to encounter many troubles which is opposite to the intentional input: clicking and dragging files between folders need patience and good run-up, and many other complaints towards this manufacturer during our testing time. This is just for Windows 7; just imagine how worse it is when operating the gesture-friendly Windows 8.

Display and sound

Gigabyte X11 display

Gigabyte X11 display

We complained about the bezel around the 11.6 inch, 1,366x768 display, but the screen itself is also glossy (a normal annoyance), and the colors are a little too dark and washed out, no matter how much you change the settings. For example, the bright red turns out to be ruddy brown, while green and blue are mixed together. On the plus side, a 300 nit screen of course can struggle against the sunlight, and it is strong enough to burn a few retinas at the full bright – always a good sign, as there are many laptops have weak backlighting.

The X11’s stereo speakers are hid in the hinge of the unit. At the maximum volume, of course they will fill up the room, but the rattling noise, which sounds like somebody have put a paper on the speakers, will goes together. The sound is still harsh when you increase it over 75% for example, so when we watch some Rifftrax movies on the machine, the echo of Kevin Murphy sometimes hurts our ears.

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