BenQ – Joybook 8000 review

wide-screen laptop
Photo of BenQ – Joybook 8000

Benq may be a new name for most of us, but the company has been around for quite a while. However, it’s only recently that Benq has stepped out of the shadow of parent company Acer.

This strangely-named company has just launched a brand new range of notebooks, with the Joybook 8000 currently the flagship model. A twin spindle design, it has the look and feel of a Powerbook G4, but it doesn’t end there. Benq is marketing the Joybook along the same lines that Apple uses with the G4 – it’s not the hardware that counts but rather what you can do with it.

This doesn’t mean that Benq has taken its eye off the ball, though; the Joybook 8000 is as a well specified as any other notebook out there. Powered by a 2GHz Pentium 4-M processor backed by 256MB of PC2100 memory, this notebook has plenty of performance and is upgradeable too – you can install up to 1GB of memory if needed.

Leaving aside the specification for a moment, the first thing you notice about this laptop is the screen. The 15.2-inch wide screen, with its 15:10 aspect ratio, is crystal clear and has a native resolution of 1,280 pixels by 854 pixels, so it’s great for watching DVDs. It’s not a bad notebook to play games on, either, as it uses a 32MB nVidia GeForce4 GO chip. This may not be as swift as the current mobile Radeon solutions, but it does a reasonable job of 2D and 3D graphics. It also provides support for the VGA and S-Video out ports.

The Joybook 8000 comes with a 30GB hard drive, which is about average for notebooks nowadays, while the optical drive is a useful 8-speed DVD/CD-RW combo drive. The keyboard and touchpad are well built, solid to the touch and responsive, and are positioned in such a way as to make typing easier and less tiring than it is with some other laptops.

Benq has designed the Joybook 8000 to allow fuss-free connection to various types of digital equipment, and it has as many ports as a standard desktop PC – if not more – in order to achieve this. Not only are there two Firewire ports, but also you get four USB 2.0 ports and an SPDIF port as well. Getting connected to the outside world shouldn’t prove a problem, either, as the notebook comes with integrated 10/100Mbps Ethernet and a 56kbps modem. Somewhat surprisingly, though, wireless LAN is only offered as an option, although there’s a Type II PC Card slot that you can use for this purpose too.

Battery life for the Joybook 8000 is a reasonable three and a half hours, but weighing in at 3.3kg, it’s not a notebook you’d want to be carrying around all the time. Benq pre-installs Windows XP Home on the Joybook 8000 and bundles CyberLink PowerDVD and PowerDirector, Ulead Photo Explorer, PC Cillin, QMusic and Q-Media. The laptop is supplied with a one-year warranty.

Company: BenQ

Contact: 01442 301 000

Benq's first solo venture into the notebook market is a stylish, fast performing, well-specified laptop that offers something a little different from the plethora of business-style notebooks out there. The Joybook 8000 is fast and has an interesting screen format, but it's quite a heavy machine by today's standards.