Monday, September 15, 2008

Deep Blue H1

Price as Reviewed $400

The Deep Blue H1 mini notebook had an early mover advantage in the UMPC market but it seems it wasn’t able to hold its ground against the newcomers. Let’s check out and see if this unit would have made a good competitor to the Asus Eee PC 701 series.

Blue Digital Systems went with a Via processor with the H1 — a 1.0GHz Via C7-M. It also has 1GB of RAM pre-installed and a 40GB HDD. In my 7-inch UMPC Rounds-Up last April, the Blue H1 came out on top as the cheapest and feature-packed among the four.

Many claimed though that the Via C7-M processor was no match for the Celeron 900MHz. Of course, I had to test this myself. Using SuperPi, it took 48 secs. on the Celeron 900MHz and 7 mins. 26 secs. on the Via C7-M to run 1M digits. Either Via CPUs are too slow or they’re not built for floating point calculations (my guess is the latter).

The Blue H1 has a compact built though the battery pack is protruding from its back side. Like many other 7-inch laptops, the screen real estate is barely enough and with a body that’s 9.5″ wide, the screen’s 6″ horizontal width seems a bit small which made you think the space was under-utilized. It’s a little heavier than my Asus Eee PC but that’s because of the extra weight from the HDD (1.2kg).

The trackpad looks a bit small but after measuring, it’s actually the same size as that of the Asus Eee PC (1.75″ x 1.25″). The distinctive left and right click buttons helps for easier navigation. And while the keyboard size and orientation is the same, the Blue H1 has more space for palm rest which makes it easier to touch type.

The 0.3 MP webcam sits on top of the screen but it’s a little distracting to see the text that states “Digital Camera” beside it, in bold all-caps print.

The Blue H1 is cooler (less hot) too, maybe because of the low-power Via and the good ventilation at the bottom (there were 4 grill slots in there).

The default OS is Window XP and is quite responsive despite the low SuperPi results. It’s complete in connectivity too — 2 USB ports, 1 LAN, 1 modem, a 4-in-1 card reader and WiFi 802.11 b/g.

Over-all, this is a good 1st generation UMPC and could have easily surpassed the Eee PC 701 had it been marketed properly. It’s also 15% cheaper than most UMPCsd when it first came out. If Blue Systems can drop the current price down to Php9,995 today (compared to the 701’s Php13k curent price tag), I’m sure people will find it a good great bargain.