Fat-rump resistant netbook won’t crack under pressure

In an attempt to differentiate itself from other Netbook manufacturers NEC is about to release the Versa N1100 a magnesium alloy-based mini notebook that they claim has been tested to withstand 150kg force.

According to Darren Brain the Marketing Manager of NEC Computers Australia a common problem with small portable notebooks (in Japan anyway) was that they were getting broken in the “commuter crush” on trains and when placed in overhead lockers in planes. Having travelled Melbourne public transport in peak hour I can’t say I have come home to find my notebook ground into itty bitty pieces during the trip but perhaps I am lucky.

Anyway NEC engineers seems to think is a problem worth solving so they designed an ultra resilient netbook and decided to test it by putting a magnesium plate over the top of the unit applying 150kg of weight for 5 seconds and checking to make sure that the screen isn’t cracked and netbook still works. (That’s just long enough to resist the hot and sweaty bulk of an extremely obese commuter before they get up in shock and apologise profusely for sitting on your notebook.)

Speaking of hot and sweaty NEC has also soaked the Versa N1100 in artificial sweat to ensure that the characters on the keyboard and the black gloss finish do not come off. We’re not sure we want to know where they sourced the artificial sweat from.

It seems that the engineers at NEC are either bored or have watched too much Mythbusters because they have also dropped the netbook on all 6 faces onto wooden floors iron plates and concrete floors as well as carried out around 40 other durability tests.

Whilst Brain would not commit as to how well the Versa N1100 would stand up to real world punishment (such as toddlers pets and clumsiness) he did say that the tests indicated that “the netbook is more resistant to pressure and impact.” but not having seen the test results of other manufacturers would not confirm whether the NEC product was the most durable netbook of them all.

Whilst we can hardly wait to get our hands on one of these netbooks to try some of these tests here at APC Brain did advise us “not to try these tests at home” because “NEC do not give an additional warranty over and above the standard notebook range which does not cover impact damage or physical abuse.”

So what is the point of making claims as to the toughness of your product but not putting your money where your mouth is. According to Brain “NEC has designed this product to address a specific need given that netbooks are a particularly mobile product and would benefit from extra resilience.” How much resilience? Well we just have to take NEC’s word for it — and if you break it don’t expect them to fix it for free.

In terms of other specs the N1100 looks fairly much the same as any other netbook out there. 8.9” WSVGA display (1024 x 600) Intel(R) Atom(TM) processor N270 160GB HDD and 1GB DDR2 RAM 17mm pitch keyboard Wi-Fi 1.3 megapixel webcam Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP Home Edition Service Pack 2 and 1 Year National On-Site Warranty (excluding dropping sitting on it or other home resilience testing). The main drawbacks are that it is heavier than most other netbooks (weighing in at 1.1kg) and only ships with a 3 cell battery.