Friday, August 1, 2008


by Joanna Stern

Last week, CTL released the specs of its new mini-notebook, the IL1PC. This morning the system arrived at our offices. According to CTL, the unit containing a 60GB hard drive, 1GB of memory, and Windows XP Home will be available through online retailers in the coming weeks for $449. But is the system worth the extra $50 compared with the 7-inch ASUS Eee PC 4G XP? Let’s find out.

Sleek Exterior, Small Footprint
Right out of the box we were impressed by the glossy black lid on the IL1PC. Though it gives the system a nice sassy look, it quickly became smeared in fingerprints. The 9.6 x 6.8 x 1.7-inch notebook had no shame getting up on the scale: It weighed in at 2.4 pounds, 3.0 pounds with the AC adapter. Though the system is slightly heavier and wider than the Eee PC 4G, it’s still very light.

Extra Large Bezel, Tiny Trackpad
We wish the sleek exterior carried its way under the lid; the inside is covered in black matte plastic. The first thing you notice about the 7-inch screen is that it is surrounded by an extra large, almost swollen bezel. The bezels vertically straddling the screen are 1.5 inches thick, and unlike the original Eee PC, this space isn’t used for speakers. Instead, a speaker stretches across the bottom bezel, and a webcam sits on the top.

Note: The webcam is conveniently labeled “DIGITAL CAMERA.” CTL left off the labels for the keyboard and screen, but we figured it out.

The keyboard has decent feedback and closely resembles that of the 2go PC (a.k.a. Classmate PC 2). The 1.6 x 1.2-inch touchpad is extremely tiny, but we do like the arrow buttons, which allow you to scroll easily through a Web page by tapping them. Two thumbs up to CTL for including two separate mouse buttons below the trackpad; it sure beats the single bar on the Eee PC.

Sweet Surfing, Choppy Graphics
Putting the IL1PC’s 1.0GHz VIA C7-M processor and 1GB of RAM to work, Windows XP Home runs smoothly and takes 53 seconds to boot up. There is little to no lag toggling between applications, and launching programs such as Windows Media Player and Firefox takes an average of 4 seconds.

I spent most of my time on the Windows machine in the Firefox Web browser. Oddly, the system came preinstalled with Internet Explorer 6 (rather than 7), which I have never been able to stand. Navigating to Web pages was hiccup-free; however, the 800 x 480-pixel resolution requires a bit of side-scrolling.

Checking my e-mail and reading gadget blogs wasn’t a problem, but watching a clip of House on Hulu.com was far from smooth. The video repeatedly skipped, and when I launched the full-screen view, the image was beyond pixelated. I had the same experience in a video call over Skype.

We’ll spend more time with the CTL IL1PC and run some tests on it in the lab before coming up with a verdict. In the meantime, check out our hands on video with it. So far, the system seems to be a solid Eee PC alternative with its sleek exterior and comfortable trackpad, but we aren’t sure if it’s worth the extra $50. What do you think