Gigabyte is probably best known for its motherboards, graphics cards and other PC components. But the company is now branching out into finished hardware and, with a well-deserved reputation for producing quality components, its laptops and other products ought to be worth close consideration.
Unfortunately, the Gigabyte U2442 is a grand's worth of laptop that, frankly, doesn't look it. Or rather, it is a machine that comes close to brilliance in some areas, but falls woefully short in others.
The cover is a brushed aluminium, which is nice enough, but adds weight, while the base of the machine is painted plastic with a chiclet keyboard and a grill for the tinny speakers. Picture a laptop made to look like a Macbook on the cheap, and you're probably not far from the appearance of the Gigabyte U2442.
The bezel also houses a webcam and microphone. The unit has a whole, though, is robust and ought not warp or bend if roughly shoved into a crowded rucksack or briefcase.
It is billed as an "ultrabook", although the screen is not detachable and it looks just like any other laptop. To keep the weight down, it lacks a DVD drive, which is a reasonable compromise in a laptop. However, it does have a solid-state disk drive instead of conventional disk storage. But with only 128 gigabyte (GB) capacity, there's only about 70GB left after Windows 8 is accounted for.
An extra £80 or so will buy a device with a 750GB hard-disc drive on board, but that's a pretty hefty wedge of cash when you could buy a one terabyte (TB) hard-disc drive for half that amount, or a 1TB hybrid solid-state/conventional disk drive for the same amount.
It does, though, sport Windows 8. That will mean it has one of those touch screens that you can fondle lovingly to navigate your way around FrankenBallmer's operating system, as if it were a poor man's iPad, yes?
In fact, for a laptop of this price, the screen is one of the biggest disappointments. It doesn't support touch, so the only way to navigate around Windows 8 is with a basic touch pad (which supports "pinch to zoom" but lacks features for fast scrolling).
If you need the "charms" interface, scroll all the way over to the right hand side, then scroll back to the left hand-side to open the application you want... It's a time-consuming chore. And, yes, it does interfere with touch-typing too and, no, you can't turn the touchpad off.
But it gets worse. It is supposed to be an HD screen offering a maximum resolution of 1600 by 900 over its 14 inches, which on paper is okay - not up there with the very best, but not far from it, yet at £1000 rivals are starting to offer full HD - 1920 by 1080.
That isn't a total disaster, but the trouble is, its viewing angles are so poor that you have to look at it from a particular angle if you want to see the colours on the screen properly.
Even then, it's hard to discern what the colours are supposed to be as they change with even the slightest movement. The colours, too, look washed out. That would be barely acceptable on a £300 Acer, but for a machine of this price, it badly lets the whole package down.
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