Gigabyte M1022 Overview

The pictures pretty much tell the story when it comes to the design of the M1022.

The ports are located in good positions -- having the audio jacks on the front instead of the side is an improvement over other netbooks in our opinion. The left side doesn't have any standard ports, since it serves as the interface to the docking station. That leaves all three USB ports accessible on the right side, along with the power jack, Ethernet port, and ExpressCard slot. When docked, that means you have access to six USB ports, and you can leave your keyboard and mouse connected to the docking station. Gigabyte includes two power adapters as well, so you won't have to worry about juggling between the docking station and the netbook when you're going on the road.

As is customary for current netbooks and laptops, the M1022 comes with a glossy exterior and LCD. The white chassis definitely helps to hide fingerprints, so we actually like the glossy coating in this case. The LCD on the other hand merely rates as "okay" -- contrast ratio is noticeably lower than on the ASUS 1005HA. The default maximum brightness is much higher, but using the EeeCTL utility on the 1005HA you can end up at a slightly higher ~250 nits. Given the choice between a 1000:1 contrast ratio and a ~250:1 ratio, the ASUS LCD is the clear winner.

In terms of chassis design, we prefer the Gigabyte M1022 over the ASUS 1005HA in other areas. As mentioned already, we like the touchpad on the M1022, and having the buttons on the sides of the touchpad allows them to be larger and more accessible than the tiny buttons on other netbooks. Looking at the bottom of the chassis, we find another area where we prefer the M1022. Gigabyte includes three panels that allow easy access to the memory slot, mini-PCI slots (one is occupied by the 802.11n WiFi/Bluetooth card), and the hard drive bay. If you are interested in upgrading to an SSD or adding a second mini-PCI card, it will be much easier to accomplish on the M1022.

We still aren't sold on the concept of adding an expensive SSD to a netbook, but the Booktop M1022 is designed as a hybrid system that can switch between netbook and nettop roles -- hence the name Booktop. Having better hard drive performance would definitely be useful at times. What would really help to improve the M1022 as a nettop replacement would be to use a different processor. We wish someone would put a dual-core Atom into a netbook, as the added performance would definitely be appreciated when the M1022 is resting in the docking station. Unfortunately, the word is that Intel does not allow the use of the Atom 300 series parts in netbooks/laptops -- presumably because it might cut into the market for their other mobile CPUs, though that's speculation rather than fact. It would also be interesting to see NVIDIA's Ion platform used to enable better handling of HD video and graphics, but Intel is certainly not going to condone such a product.

There are a few other areas where we're left wanting. We would really like to have a digital video output on the docking station. We were still able to run 1920x1200 and 2048x1152 LCDs using the VGA output, but text wasn't quite as sharp compared to digital outputs. It's still better than the Acer Aspire One with analog output to a high-res display, but one of the prime advantages of LCDs is their ability to display crisp text. The docking station also has at least one serious flaw: the integrated 100Mb Ethernet only transferred at ~6.5Mbps (800kB/s) during testing. We're not sure what sort of interface the docking station uses, but the Ethernet needs to be fully functional to be useful -- we didn't have any issues with the Ethernet port on the netbook. Video and audio output through the docking station didn't have any problems, and the USB ports also work properly, but the Ethernet port runs about as fast as 10Mb Ethernet -- or a USB 1.1 Ethernet adapter. It's fast enough for web surfing, but it's slower than even the wireless networking for transferring files between computers.

Overall, the Booktop M1022 is an interesting alternative to other netbooks. Gigabyte is right in stating that the major differentiating factor is the inclusion of a docking station. However, in a desktop Intel's Atom processor leaves us wanting. Yes, you will have one of the "greenest" computers on the planet if you use such a system as your desktop, but there's no getting around the fact that computers using Intel Atom chips are nowhere near as fast as most desktop systems. If you are already in the market for a nettop, the M1022 is a reasonable alternative that also gets you a decent netbook. However, most nettops provide some extra features that you might end up missing -- like the digital video output and a dual-core Atom processor.

Index Netbook Testing Setup
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  • AnnonymousCoward - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    Great review, Jarred.

    The half-assed dock performance (analog video and slow ethernet) and the high netbook price are real turnoffs.
  • erple2 - Friday, August 28, 2009 - link

    I used to think that Docking Stations were worthless. If you never move your laptop, then yes, they're worthless. You can get all of the same functionality by plugging things directly into the laptop.

    However, once I got a laptop at work that I would bring home daily, it became clear that pressing 1 button to "unplug" the power cable, mouse, ethernet port, external non-portable storage and additional Monitor, I realized just how useful that is. Couple that with taking the computer with me to meetings, and I plug/unplug it about 6 times a day.

    Sure, it's a small thing, but it does take about 1 minute to plug/unplug everything each time. I figure that saves me about 3 minutes a day. That's 15 minutes a week, an hour a month. Any docking station would pay for itself in whatever your hourly rate is in not much time at all. Plus, few notebooks have DVI connectors for external 24" LCD's.
  • autoboy - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    I think every notebook should offer docking capability. Docking stations offer so much flexibility in charging and peripherals so this computer is interesting to me except for it's price.

    I use a second monitor and computer for basic internet and work. My gaming machine changes so often it is nice to have a system that never changes, and notebooks are great for a 2nd PC. Having them on a docking station just makes it so much better.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    I used to like the idea, but now I realize they are just a scam. Why in the world would anyone want to pay anywhere near $400 for a netbook when you can find deals like the Lenovo G530-444635u (pentium t4200) for $320? The battery life argument only makes sense if/when battery life in a netbook gets up around 24 hrs. If I can loop a youtube clip for 24 hours straight without my battery dying (and without stuttering), then we might be on to something. Until then netbooks are redundant. By the time I can loop a youtube clip for 24 hrs without my battery dying, I'll be able to do it on a cellphone, hopefully free with a 2 year contract.
  • faxon - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    hopefully nvidia's tegra platform will be capable of this. apparently the cheaper tegra devices may even be free with a paid 3G WAN plan, going up to $100 for a 10 inch device. now all we need is ChromeOS and we are set!
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    24 hours is rather excessive; I'm fine with 8-10 hours, so we're pretty much there now (i.e. ASUS 1005HA). The day I spend more than that in front of a computer watching videos is the day I check myself into the old folks' home.
  • crimson117 - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    ..where you'll have to fight the old folks for the TV remote.
  • The0ne - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    I've purchases Vostro laptops for home and business uses mainly because they are are steal when bought at the right time. A netbook selling at $400-$600 is going to a very hard thing to consider. I mean we're talking about a "net"book not an ultra portable notebook.

    Vostro 14" with a C2D 1.6GHz, 2Gig Ram, DVDRW can be had for $399 already. Scrap the resource hogging, slow Vista OS with Windows 7 and it'll run like a champ...even with Aero. I have several here proving it.

    Or get a Vostro 17" like what I'm using now with a 1900x1200 resolution, C2D T7500, 320gig HD, DVDRW, 4Gig ram for ~$800. It was a great deal at the time. Again, replace the lame Vista OS with Windows 7 and you have one really nice laptop with a gorgeous screen.

    For a "netbook" these prices are ridiculous in my view.
  • swbsam - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    Have you guys visited the forum recently? A bunch of trigger happy mods are ruining the place (and I'm sure your ad revenue!) by being overly sensitive pansies, locking everything and banning people.

    There are other options out there, of course, and I'll personally move to one of these forums -but I like your reviews and hope your revenue stream isn't jeopardized by censorship.
  • faxon - Thursday, August 27, 2009 - link

    if intel is worried that sales of dual core atoms into netbooks will cut into the sales of their mobile CPUs, they are just being extremely paranoid. if i wanted proper performance in a mobile platform, i wouldnt even be considering a dual core atom in the first place FFS. as it stands now, if i can get myself a dual core atom netbook with a 10 inch screen for $350-400 i would consider it, but as it stands it just doesnt make any sense. sure, i wouldnt be watching HD video on it or anything, but i would still like to be able to play hulu full screen at 480p reasonably. im considering getting one of these for when i go to the GFs house, since she only has her macbook and i dont want to spend $200 on a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and a table to put it on, when i can just get a netbook. its not like im going to be doing anything besides browsing. if this isnt done soon, im going to end up waiting until nvidia's tegra platform comes out, in which case intel isnt going to make a dime.

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