At E3 2012, Origin PC of Miami, Florida introduced me to their new line of fully customizable systems. Jokingly, I asked “How about an ultra-portable media editing suite?” Well, in a few weeks a large wooden crate arrived at my doorstep with a beefed up EON 11-S laptop!
Eddy Piedra, Marketing Specialist at Origin PC, hooked us up with the EON 11-S, a high performance platform in a netbook-like form factor. I do a lot of video and audio editing on location, with very demanding turnaround times. I wanted a system that was portable enough to be a light carry-on while powerful enough to handle the latest multimedia editing applications, such as Adobe Creative CS6, and Sony Vegas Pro. And hey - a couple rounds of Battlefield 3 every now and then wouldn’t be bad either.
Along with their 11-S, this Miami-born system builder has already received much acclaim for their meticulously built products, with many user reviews to follow. But these reviews sparingly touch upon user experience, mainly relying on numerical achievements, such as benchmarks, to weigh its worthiness. So this will be the first of a two-part review, starting with my real-world experiences using this laptop in the field, and then followed up by a more in-depth technical analysis by Anshel Sag, our testing manager. First Look
From the outside, anyone passing by this laptop wouldn’t think twice about what performance lies inside. I even got a few complimentary sneers from more ‘extreme’ and ‘gaming’ enthusiasts. But this custom-built sleeper is driven by Intel’s Ivy Bridge i7-3610QM, 8GB of RAM, a 250GB solid state drive, and NVIDIA’s GT650 2GB graphics chip with Optimus technology that can handle the latest applications with ease - all weighing in at only 4 lbs (1.8 kg). That’s serious firepower inside something that comfortably fits into my backpack.
Like the name suggests, the 11-S has an 11-inch screen displaying at a 1366x768 resolution. While it may not be ideal for viewing full HD 1080p media, it’s perfect for viewing 720p content on the go. This may be the highest comfortable resolution for this screen size, but it’s enough to enjoy both work and play. Anything higher would cause unnecessary viewing strain. Regardless, this laptop also has an HDMI port to easily plug into any HDTV or external display, which is very helpful while editing video. A 1.3 MP webcam and mic sits above the screen, which works nicely on Google Hangouts and Skype calls.
This laptop is built with connectivity in mind. On the left shoulder, I have a Gigabit ethernet, VGA, HDMI, onboard audio ports, as well as two USB 3.0 ports. Below it sits a wide vent exhausting hot air from the quad-core chip inside. The bottom lip has your standard power indicator lights and even an SD/Memory Stick reader, which is very handy for offloading memory cards from certain DSLRs and camcorders. The right shoulder accommodates A/C power, a USB 2.0 port for mice or other peripherals, and a Kensington lock port.
As I mentioned earlier this model may not have the “looks” of high performance, with its low-profile matte design, but Origin PC also offers more aesthetic options to show off your powerhouse. Customers can select a variety of glossy back panels while ordering, but I wanted to stay with the standard, minimalist design. Anyway, if outside appearances are important to you, they can soup it up too. Booting Up
Other than a preloaded Control Center suite, CPU-Z, RealTemp, and some wallpapers, the 11-S comes out of the box with a clean installation of Windows 7 Home Premium. They also preinstall their own version of TeamViewer remote access troubleshooting software, but no bloat otherwise, which is breath of fresh air.
If you purchased a new laptop over the past year, chances are you have a speedy solid state drive installed as the boot drive. And man, does it boot up fast. But the ideal SSD capacity for media editors would still be monstrous in price, because the large amount of space we need to fill hours of HD video and audio. I chose a 250GB SSD because its just the right size for my personal docs, apps, and mobile computing down the line. Thankfully there are USB 3.0 ports so I can point apps toward my terabytes of external media drives below my desk, and still retain enough bandwidth for smooth HD and RAW preview/playback.
After having several netbooks over the years, I’m already familiar with the crammed nature of compact, Chiclet-style keyboards. It’s not one of the most comfortable experiences in the world, but it gets the job done. The keys have decent response and typing is somewhat tolerable. But like other netbook keyboards, there is no space for a 10-key, and certain key sizes are sacrificed for space. Unfortunately on the 11-S, it’s the Right Shift key. Even while typing this review, my little finger would randomly hit the Enter and Up key. There are plenty of Function keys for control and connectivity, but the Right Shift key is more important than the arrow keys, now that we have touchpads with scrolling capability.
And like most laptops, the built-in speakers are tolerable at best, but I mainly wear headphones while mobile anyway. The onboard audio is driven by THX TruStudio Pro software, with enhancement and EQ features loaded in. When set to Headphone mode, these toggles are great for listening to music and movies, but may not be ideal for reference listening while editing.
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