The Inevitable Return of Too Much Gloss

Sometimes I feel like we're on crazy pills here. Glossy plastic has proven to be the bane of my existence as a laptop reviewer (let alone mediocre laptop photographer), and we gripe about it every time, yet nothing seems to change. The nicest thing I can say with the Xplorer X6-9100 is that at least they used the gloss in a very uniform fashion: it's the exact same glossy black finish on the lid, the screen bezel, the palm rest, and surrounding the keyboard. In that sense it leaves us very little to talk about: there's just glossy plastic everywhere. But we'll press on.

The Xplorer X6-9100 kicks it old school with its glossy black plastic and keeps it real with blue LEDs for the indicator lights. Just to make sure you get no illusions about progress, there's a touch-sensitive media control bar just above the keyboard that's also backlit with blue LEDs. While the X6-9100 ships with Bluetooth, there's no dedicated switch for it: you have to manually enable and disable the adapter in software.

The model number on the bottom of the Xplorer X6-9100 simply cites "A15A" and that's all CyberPower's website offers us, though once we contacted CyberPower we were able to confirm the ODM as Pegatron. Of course, actually using the notebook suggests its origin isn't the industry stalwart Clevo, as we've grown accustomed to from boutique builders.

The first indication this isn't standard Clevo fare is the keyboard, which doesn't completely suck and uses a slightly different layout. The soft edges and boundless gloss used for the shell notwithstanding, the keyboard uses traditional matte plastic keys as opposed to an island-style (chiclet) keyboard, and the arrow keys don't intrude on the 10-key. The layout still isn't ideal: arithmetic operator keys are above the 10-key instead of to the side, and the 0-key is instead intruded upon by a double-wide enter key. Whenever a manufacturer messes with the 10-key layout it just seems ridiculous and self-defeating, at least to me. The whole point of a 10-key is being able to use it by touch because it has a standard layout; changing that layout severely curtails the pad's usefulness, and this is only made worse when you look at the top of the notebook shell and see what seems like plenty of space on either side of the keyboard to add that fourth column.

Our other sticking point is the touchpad, which ranks among the worst I've ever used. It has the same glossy finish as the rest of the shell, so if you have the slightest bit of moisture on your fingertip it's going to be extremely jerky and difficult to use. Fortunately that's not liable to be a major issue to the users this notebook is targeted towards, who are more likely to just plug in an external mouse and call it a day.

Overall, the build quality of the Xplorer X6-9100 really is pretty good, with sturdy hinges and minimal flex, but the problem is that the glossy plastic makes the whole thing look and feel cheaper than it is. Ignoring my general hatred towards putting glossy plastic on the screen bezel, the use of the material over the entirety of the notebook (save the bottom and the keyboard) makes it appear and feel utterly generic. Frankly even some basic CyberPower branding would go a long way towards sprucing up the shell.

Introducing the CyberPower Xplorer X6-9100 Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • TrackSmart - Wednesday, May 04, 2011 - link

    I would also enjoy a "back to school" version of the buyer's guide, though I appreciate how much work must go into such articles.

    Regarding your future laptop, are you set on another tablet? That would certainly narrow the field dramatically... Plus you never stated a budget, which leaves things wide open. Nor did you state what you'd want to use the system for, generally. If you need a good quality display then you have also narrowed the field dramatically (sadly).
    Reply
  • Belard - Thursday, May 05, 2011 - link

    Agreed... a nice list of choices based on their market type.

    Mobile Workstations MUST have supergraphics. That is the point. As in this review of the CyberPower, the CPU / system performance is stellar at $1000. But its in a cheap glossy case with crappy keyboard and screen. No Professional will ever touch such a computer.

    Workstations are for those who need power GPU to handle CAD, Photoshop, 3D output, etc. Such computers typically go for $2000~4000.

    - - - - - - -
    Minecraft is a simple game... works on anything.

    Are you looking for another tablet/hybrid? Personally, I never liked them - still don't. My iPad is for more usable and easier to work with. There is a modern ThinkPad X-Tablet with a 12" screen and i3 CPU for about $1300.

    But for $1200 or so, I'd go for a normal notebook with an i5-dual core CPU and a 14" screen, 4lbs~5lbs. I hate glossy screens - so I'm a thinkpad fan ;)

    But if you want something modern and light weight:
    ThinkPad X120e = $550 / AMD E350 @ 1.6Ghz / 4GB RAM /320HD - 2.9lbs / 7hr battery. 11.6" screen Its faster than what you have, but its more of a high-end netbook.

    But I think the X220 would be more of what you want. i3~i7 CPUs... but i7 isn;t worth the extra $250 IMHO. Maybe the 2.5Ghz CPU... any i3~i5 CPU would be about 10x faster than what you have now.

    Its .75~1.3" thick - 12.5" screen and is about $1000 with 4GB RAM... still at 3lbs and an 8~9hour battery (Sweet!).

    * I don't work for Lenovo. But I do recommend and sell them to my clients and friends. (I'm not selling to you)

    This is the best list of performance chart for mobile GPUs: http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards... I use it as my reference, pretty hardcore. ;)
    Reply
  • QChronoD - Thursday, May 05, 2011 - link

    I'm hoping to keep it under $1000 is possible. I'm mostly concerned about it having a good screen, and being light (since I'll be carrying it around all day at school) Battery life isn't as big of a factor since I can usually find a place to plug in between classes, but 5hr + would be nice.

    I've read about the new X220s and they sound great, but are pushing the upper end of my budget. And of course I've fallen in love with the Samsung series 9, but its just ridiculously expensive.

    I've been eyeing the Toshiba R835, since it sounds like its got everything i need, and starts under $900. Also I'd expect Asus to come out with some new SNB models soon since everything that I've found is still using the old core chips. I still have some time till I need to pull the trigger.
    Reply
  • Belard - Monday, May 09, 2011 - link

    I just got a DELL business catalog (flyer thingy) They have some upper end notebooks starting at $1000. ;)

    Compared to whats in the review, it has less memory and a dual core CPU... but it has a FULL keyboard with a proper numeric keypad. :)

    Check on the screen, if glossy screens are not an issue... I'm not a fan of Toshiba, but they have made vast improvements compared to 4 years ago or so... like sticking the Windows key on the top row... ? ugh.

    I'm very much not a fan of island keyboards, yeah the flat keys do look nice, but I like my keys curvy.

    Check out the gallery and feature list at Lenovo
    ThinkPad Edge E420s = $750 with i5 / 4gb / 250gb HD 14" display 4lbs.
    It has semi-island modern type keyboard.

    But I'd go at least with a ThinkPad L420 $700~800. i5 / 4gb / 250gb HD 14" display 5lbs. It has the world-class Thinkpad keyboard, but a more non-Thinkpad like layout - still nice.

    I've worked on many notebooks, seen Thinkpad tech support work on warranty repairs. Many ThinkPad owners still like the T-Series because they are so much more rugged. Than an Edge or L, which are more typical of todays notebooks. A T-Series T420, configured like the L420 is $980 ($900 with 2GB RAM), but last week, they had a 2GB free sale :)

    Personally, I'd take a 2GB T420 over a 4GB L420 :P

    A cool thing, is that none of these are loaded up with crap-ware. Other than ThinkPad tools. (I remove the automated software update manager) so unlike many other brands, you don't have to rip out a bunch of junk.

    ;)

    Get at least an i5-25xx CPU type computer. The performance is very nice.
    Reply
  • epons - Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - link

    like Stanwood, I appreciate Anandtech's strong technical content.

    The only things I ask for a laptop isn't realy the exterior beauty. ( but if it's ok, why not...) . My job ask me to have workstation power for development, so have always a good desktop with good screens.
    Data, and programacion and a little aplications are what I always working on, except, i'm photographer too. So at home I have all for a good job.

    This little x6-9100 is perhaps better for me than a Dell: it will not be my first computer. only a " rescue pc" when I have to go out, or when I'm going to a photo trip. Therefore I must have a lot of power, a descent screen to program and previewing my photos.
    In the place I live, i compared the prices: Dell xps 15 vs x6-9100 in the min config I want: 1100$ with x6-9100 and 2200$ for the Dell. For a "rescue pc" it's very tempting to take the x6-9100, no?
    my specs min: 2820QM+8GB ram + ssd.+ 1080p screen. For a rescue pc, i don't ask for the best looking, best screen, but yes with power and capacity. Don't require any graphics power. So, at first page, you said that the construction is good. At home , i always using a mouse/keyboard and external monitor.
    In this case, ins't it the best value/price on the market?
    So , for readers like me, and like Stanwood, games aren't the goal. The goal are the capacity to do a good job, witch is the first goal of a computer, isn't it?
    Reply

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