BenQ Australia Joybook R56-BV04

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BenQ Australia Joybook R56-BV04
  • BenQ Australia Joybook R56-BV04
  • BenQ Australia Joybook R56-BV04
  • BenQ Australia Joybook R56-BV04

Pros

  • e-SATA, HDMI

Cons

  • Speakers, screen viewing angle and contrast levels

Bottom Line

With power, connectivity and functionality at your fingertips there's little to complain about. The BenQ Joybook R56 offers some nice new features in a solid, usable machine.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 1 store)

Although it lacks the pizzazz of BenQ's Joybook S41 V18 and Joybook S32W-PV14 notebooks, the BenQ Joybook R56-BV04 business notebook still has some juice under the lid and its clean-slate feel will appeal to those looking for a simple, but powerful notebook machine.

The design is very much BenQ's old-school blue-silver layout, but there's very little else to evoke nostalgia. In fact, with features like its HDMI port and, even more impressive, its e-SATA port, the Joybook R56 is making one small step for BenQ and one fair leap for notebook-kind.

The most interesting feature for this notebook is probably e-SATA as there are currently very few notebooks that offer it, and the ones we have seen are gaming or entertainment notebooks, which are typically more powerful (see also the HP Pavilion HDX9003TX and the ASUS G2S). The e-SATA port has a theoretical maximum speed of 3GBps as opposed to USB 2.0, which has only 480MBps. Devices, such as the Vantec NexStar 3 NST-360SU-BK can be connected via the e-SATA port and are great for transferring large amounts of data in a short time.

Although this unit is not designed as a multimedia device or media centre of sorts, as a computer it is capable. For instance there's plenty of room on the 160GB hard drive to store movies or music, and of course there's the DVD re-writer, which will burn discs and play DVD movies. The internal speakers aren't really noteworthy, but you can always plug in a pair of headphones.

With the HDMI port this experience can be continued at home. Plugging the notebook into your TV or home theatre via HDMI gives you all the benefits of a computer with the quality of your home entertainment setup. If your work requires video conferencing or you're an avid video chat user you'll appreciate the 1.3-megapixel webcam built into the screen.

An Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 2GHz CPU with an 800MHz front side bus and a 4MB L2 cache gives this unit most of its grunt, and the 1GB of DDR2 RAM helps. A basic, NVIDIA 8400M G handles the graphics, rather than using Intel's onboard graphics.

In our benchmarks the Joybook R56 performed well. The score of 74 in WorldBench 6 indicates this machine has plenty of potential. Applications, such as word processors and Web browsers will run without issues and you may even get some reasonable performance out of more taxing applications like Adobe Photoshop.

In the encoding tests we saw reasonable results. Audio encoding is a function primarily handled by the CPU and is a gauge of its performance. These results also give you an idea of how long it might take to load your CD library to this notebook. Using iTunes to encode 53 minutes worth of WAV files to 192Kbps MP3 files took just 89 seconds, while in Cdex, which only uses one core of the CPU took 128 seconds.

Battery tests returned average results. In our DVD rundown test the BenQ Joybook lasted just 84 minutes. This test is particularly draining on the battery and is considered a worst-case scenario, so you can expect longer life from everyday usage.

The keyboard is quite comfortable to type on over extended periods and the touchpad is responsive. The screen, which has a native resolution of 1280x800, produces a fairly bright image, although contrast levels aren't quite up to scratch. Notebook screens often have poor viewing angles and this is no exception, but for general use it is fine.

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