We at PC Authority still feel a thrill when we see a new netbook. The recent likes of the BenQ Eco Lite U121 and the slim stylings of the HP Mini 5101 instil joy just to look at. It's usually only once we start to use them that the first glimmerings of disappointment may set in. But that's where the Gigabyte Booktop steps in.
The Booktop, as the name suggests, is aiming to be a little bit netbook and a little bit nettop. What makes the Booktop a hybrid is the addition of a dock. Unlike most laptop docks, the Booktop sits vertically within it, stabilised by a special port and a tab that slots into the Kensington lock.
Three USB ports on the right hand side of the Booktop are immediately available at the top of the docked device, while the back of the dock holds another three. Six USB ports are incredibly welcome for any netbook form factor.
Aside from the USB, the dock also sports a VGA port for a larger-screen monitor than the netbook can provide, line-out, Ethernet and a power socket for connection to the wall using the laptop's power adapter. At the front, there's a simple on/off switch and a battery indicator button that shows how much power remains.
The battery itself produces good results for a 3-cell battery. It managed 4 hours and four minutes, even on our heavy use test, and a pleasing 6 hours 45 minutes on light use.
The included Atom N270 processor produces a reasonable result of 0.39 in our benchmarks, but in most other areas, it's not a standout - the 160GB HDD and 1GB of RAM is sufficient to the task, and the one year warranty is unexceptional. It does include wireless-n, which is a nice touch if this machine is likely to find its home as a desktop part of the time.
Gigabyte has opted to put the trackpad keys either side of the trackpad, and the trackpad itself is wide, rather than deep. Given that it matches the screen's dimensions, this feels surprisingly natural. The buttons feel overly soft, but they click inwards, rather than downwards, making them a little friendlier than some other iterations of this design.
The keyboard is reminiscent of the Wind, and has a similar level of comfort and usability, making it a pleasure to use for lengthy periods of typing. The enter, backspace, shift and control keys are large enough to be easy to find.
The screen is not too glossy, and the text and images are crisp and free of defect. The screen feels larger than it is. It's a shame that the screen bezel feels flimsy, but the rest of the build is reassuringly sturdy.
The question is: does the dock add more than it subtracts? We're not convinced of the sturdiness of the plastic base, but the overall look is quite pleasing.
We don't think you'd want to take the dock with you - it's an odd shape and doesn't pack neatly - but if you're after a light and portable device that can also be used with a big screen monitor at home for more comfortable content consumption, the Booktop fits the bill.