- ✓Compact, reasonably ergonomic design
- ✓affordable price.
- ✕Many users may prefer a traditional keyboard and mouse to the combined infrared unit supplied.
AJP's Mitac-built Neo-PC II is the company's second-generation compact PC. Featuring a built-in 15in. LCD monitor, its ergonomics are an improvement over the original Neo-PC .
The Neo-PC II's design incorporates elements of both desktop and notebook technology. The CPU -- Intel's 750MHz 'flip-chip' Pentium III -- is a desktop part, although it has been seen in the odd notebook. This is supported by 128MB of SDRAM, which is expandable to 512MB -- although only by a dealer, as this is essentially a closed system. The chipset is the highly integrated SiS 630, a competitor to Intel's 810 range that incorporates core logic, graphics, audio and Ethernet functions. Fixed storage is provided in the form of Samsung's 30.6GB SV3064D hard drive, a 5,400rpm Ultra-ATA/66 unit.
Notebook technology is apparent in the form of a pair of stacked Type II PC Card slots built into the left-hand side of the monitor, a VGA-out port for an external monitor and, of course, the integrated 15in., XGA-resolution TFT screen. The display rests on a base with a good swivel action, and can also tilt -- although not by as much as we'd like. Unlike the original Neo-PC, there's good access to the front panel containing status LEDs, reset and power/standby/resume buttons, as well as an infrared port.
In addition to the PC Card slots, the left-hand side of the display houses a brightness control, three audio ports (microphone, headphone, line-in) and a hardware volume control -- always a useful feature. The right-hand side of the display is home to a floppy drive and a 24-speed CD-ROM drive.
Although many compact PCs are legacy-free, the Neo-PC II retains traditional connectors such as parallel, serial and PS/2 ports, while also providing more modern I/O options via USB and IEEE 1394. Note that the IEEE 1394 port is a standard 6-pin socket that will only support self-powered 1394 devices. Also present on the back of the system are RJ-11 and RJ-45 sockets for the built-in 56Kbit/s modem and 10/100 Ethernet connection respectively. There are no expansion slots, either PCI or ISA.
Another feature seen almost exclusively on notebooks is infrared, which is present on the Neo-PC II mainly to accommodate the wireless keyboard, which also incorporates a two-button trackpoint-style mouse. Unfortunately, the keyboard/mouse unit supplied for review was a pre-production unit, so judgment must be reserved on its build quality and performance. Suffice to say that we rapidly switched to a traditional PS/2 keyboard and mouse after a brief trial of the supplied unit.
With a 750MHz Pentium III processor, 128MB of RAM and Windows 2000 Professional, you'd expect a decent level of performance, and the Neo-PC II's Business Winstone 99 score of 29.9 doesn't disappoint. It's slightly slower than the Neo-PC reviewed previously, which was powered by an 800MHz Pentium III. The disk and graphics benchmarks are nothing special, but performance is fine for office productivity applications and Web browsing.
Apart from the pre-production infrared keyboard/mouse, our only complaint about the Neo-PC II review sample was the floppy drive, whose mechanism failed to eject a disk we inserted. Overall, though, it's an improvement, with better ergonomics and more than acceptable performance.