Review BenQ Joybook S31 Notebook
Petit noir. Not only is the Joybook S31's look appealing. It also seems to be useful right from the very beginning. The matte black case should be free from any visible signs of wear. It is a small and light notebook, so, you can easily tell that the intended focus group are business travelers.
Following review is provided by notebookcheck.pl, our Polish editor team.
The BenQ S31's case features some specials which distinguish it from competitor notebooks. These are for example a silver strip around the top side of the base unit and the distinctive touchpad buttons with flutings.
As already mentioned in the introduction, the predominant color of the Joybook's case is black in various shades. In general the look improved compared to older Joybooks, e.g., the indicator lights and the hot keys look nicer.
The plastic on the bottom of the base unit is significantly more robust than the one of the S61, we reviewed last year. Still it does not completely resist applied forces, it yields a little bit next to the serial plate. In general the resistance to pressure is worse. There are some sensitive parts, which yield under pressure and creak. These are the left edge of the base unit and the front left corner of the top side. The cover of the optical drive also yields at its edges.
However, the display cover is solid. But, there is no transport hook. The display remains lifted even if the opening angle is just 10°. The notebook opens quite easily - which might be one of the biggest drawback of the Joybook S31's design.
On the other hand, the hinges are massive. They stabilize the not overly big LCD panel perfectly well. There is hardly any wobbling after adjusting the display's position.
It's easy to remove the battery. However, the battery wobbles.
The S31 provides sufficient interfaces. Among others there are four USB ports and a FireWire. However, a digital video connector (DVI or HDMI) is missing. Most of the interfaces are located at the notebook's left and right side. The audio ports are at the front side.
Although the reviewed notebook is small, the size of the keyboard is alright. It is almost extends over the whole width of the base unit. The keys are relatively big, so, they have to be close to each other. As a result the layout of the keyboard is not very clear.
As the cursor keys are not separated from the other keys, the right Shift key had to be reduced to the size of the right Ctrl or Alt Gr key. The Enter key of the reviewed model was also very small, although the advertisement depicts the opposite.
The keys are rather soft, the travel is somewhat long, the stop is very fine, and the feedback is rather moderate. Due to this, typing is maybe not the fastest, but pleasantly quiet.
The surface of the touchpad shows good sliding qualities, but with the default settings the cursor can be moved only through ¾ of the width of the screen, however, it is capable of go through the entire screen vertically. Despite that it allows the user to steer the cursor over the screen in a fast and satisfyingly precise manner. The right edge of the pad can be used for scrolling, but it is not adequately marked as such.
Below the pad there are two distinct buttons, which are specific to BenQ. What differentiates them from others are small ditches on their surface by touch. Their click is quite audible, especially in the middle. At the edges the click is more or less silent.
The special buttons above the keyboard are quite specific. One of them, called QShot, provides the user with the possibility to make screenshots even during movie playback. With the second one, called BenQ Surround, the SRS TruSurround XT option in the Sound Manager can be switched on and off.
At the front side of the S31 a WLAN switch is provided. It allows the user to turn on and deactivate WLAN and Bluetooth. When they are switched on the LED of the according plastic button is lit.
The BenQ notebooks are known for the good quality of their screens. The reviewed Joybook S31 model was equipped with a glossy 13.3" WXGA (1280x800) screen by AU Optronics. The measured maximum brightness was 252.7 cd/m² - an excellent result. The illumination of 78.7% is only satisfying.
The maximum contrast is good at 194:1.
Taking the notebook outdoors, you won't find the picture so fine as on the photo beside. The depicted lack of reflections can be explained by the fact that the tests were made during a sequence of days when the sky was overcast. Nevertheless, you can see some reflections on the clip showing the viewing angles.
Regarding viewing angles: Horizontally the S31's viewing angles are quite good. However, vertically they are really narrow. Black gets gray just after pushing the screen away (or tilting the head down). When looking at it from below, we noticed that the picture gets darker and bluish. Looking from upside down it whitens.
The Joybook S31 belongs to the older generation of notebooks, but it is by no means outdated. It just signifies that it is based on a Napa platform (which is characterized, among others, by the 667MHz FSB) on board. Our sample model was equipped with a T5500 processor, which is one of the slowest Core 2 Duo CPUs (clocked at 1.66GHz).
Regarding video it is comes with an integrated GMA 950. This equipment is alright for office and internet applications, but playing games with high 3D demands is not well possible.
The Fujitsu 120GB hard drive is average, regarding its performance.
» No benchmarks for this notebook found!
» No benchmarks for this notebook found!
In idle mode only a quiet (32.7dB) hum can be heard. The hard drive is rather quiet too. Getting active, it gets audible for short intervals, while being in permanent use, it seems to be silent.
The DVD emits a tiny sound (39 dB), which stops after a short time, so that the noise level drops to 37dB again. After a couple of minutes it gets louder again for about one and a half minute.
Under load, the fan starts running right away (the noise level amounts to 36.6 dB), and speeds up (40.5 dB) in the very next moment. The maximum noise level of 42.1 dB is reached after several minutes of heavy load.
The surfaces temperatures of the Joybook S31 are alright. The top side seems almost cool, as its temperature doesn't exceed the warmth of the human body. The bottom side gets slightly warmer, but only at a few parts.
palmwrist: 36.7°C max: 37.7°C avg: 33.1°C
max: 42.0°C avg: 33.2°C
Their maximum volume is quite alright. However, at the maximum volume, there were some distortions. After turning on SRS TruSurround XT, the speakers did not sound good.
The battery, which is rather small (4400mAh capacity), is pretty efficient. It provides a relatively long runtime, which ranges from two up to four hours and above.
In our view BenQ can be proud of their Joybook S31. It is useful and convenient in use, so we would call it a successful model.
The biggest drawback of this very portable computer is that a transport hook is missing. Hence, the notebook opens easily. The hinges, on the other hand, work flawlessly.
In general BenQ laptops have displays of good quality, but, in this special case we have some objections. Although the brightness is excellent, the vertical viewing angles should be better.
In general the emissions of the Joybook S31 are alright. During the execution of undemanding tasks the notebook is quiet, and it stays cool even under heavy load. The battery lifetime is quite alright too.
Thanks to our partners of Notebookcheck Polen, who reviewed this notebook.