While we rarely see notebooks powered by VIA CPUs and chipsets in the U.S., the company has a much bigger footprint around the world. Today at Computex, we stopped by VIA’s room and took a good long look at some of the sample notebooks on display. As you might imagine, most of these demo units were made by original design manufacturers so chances are that, if you see them being sold, they’ll have someone else’s brand name on them.
Amongst the VIA notebooks on display, we found ourselves magnetically drawn to two particular 11.6-inch models made by Sunpirit, a Chinese ODM. The Sunpirit SPTNB 1106-A happens to look an awful lot like a MacBook and the SPTNB 1106-D, which happens to look an awful lot like a Dell Adamo XPS. Apart from their different chassis, both systems have the same specs. Under the hood are 1.2-GHz VIA Nano U3300 CPUs, along with Via’s VX855 Media Sytem processors, and a Via Chrome9 GPU with 1GB of RAM.
Both Sunpirit 1106s have 11.6-inch screens, which were running at 1024 x 600 when we saw the demos. When we tried to adjust the resolution upward, it would not go higher so either these screens are 1024 x 600 or the systems we saw didn’t have a final driver. We would expect that an 11.6-inch system would have a 1366 x 768 resolution display so we’ll assume it’s a driver issue.
We really like the look and feel of the Sunpirit 1106-D (could the D stand for Dell?), because its deck is brushed metal and it has that nice little bump in the back that we’ve seen on the Adamo XPS. The 1106-A, pictured at the top of this post, doesn’t seem as sleek as a real MacBook, but it does have a great, slim form factor and a comfortable island keyboard.
We didn’t have time to performance test either of these notebooks, but we saw that a number of the VIA systems were running video trailers that played without a hitch. Clearly, the VIA Nano U3300 has the horsepower to play video and perform the basic tasks you need, even though it is only a single core solution. It’s a shame that most of the companies whose products we saw will never sell them to a North American vendor and that most North American vendors have avoided putting VIA into their notebooks and netbooks.
Check out our hands-on video with the Sunpirit 1106 notebooks and several other VIA-based systems below.