We saw Benq's first entrant into the netbook market, the U100, and were impressed both with its performance and battery life. Now BenQ has brought out it's older sibling, and again there's a lot to like here.
The U121 is on the larger side of the netbook market: one of the 11.6in models we've seen arrive alongside the Eee PC 1101. It features a deep blue metallic-look lid, and brushed-metal look chassis. It doesn't quite pull it off, but it's still an attractive machine. It's solid, too: there's little flex in the chassis or screen, and the battery is large enough to add stability to the base without bulging.
The 16:9 widescreen 1366 x 768 display advertises itself as "UltraVivid". We were pleased with the brightness and colour accuracy, but there was a degree of graininess and a narrow viewing angle that detracts from its otherwise excellent appearance, but won't impede too much.
There's no disappointment in the keyboard or trackpad, however. The keyboard is 95% full-size, and all keys are well-sized. We'd like a little more travel on the keys, but they are crisp and comfortable to use for extended periods. The trackpad features a single button and slightly roughened brushed-metal surface which is pleasingly accurate and very comfortable to use.
Battery life for the Joybook is also excellent, notching up over nine hours in our light use test, and an impressive four and a half hours even with the CPU at full throttle.
The only real complaint we have is the size - at 1.4kg it's one of the heaviest on test, and while it's slender, it feels more like a regular laptop, without the power. Regardless, it's worth the price.