Features of the Excel G550
After unpacking the notebook when it arrived at the lab, I thought simply that this was a normal notebook with nothing special. In actual fact, this is somewhat true but somewhat false. True in that this is more of a notebook than the ECS I-Buddie is but false in that it does not cost as much as your average notebook system.
Measuring 326 x 258 x 25.3mm and weighing just 2.8 kilograms, the unit is quite small and lightweight. It sure is what we would classify as a portable option.
When it comes to expansion, like the I-Buddie, the Excel G550 has all the right ports, and even one extra that makes it more of a notebook option. You get the following:
1 x Parallel port
1 x external VGA port
1 x S-Video TV-out port
1 x RJ-11 jack for Modem
1 x RJ-45 for Ethernet
1 x SIR port
1 x Unpowered 1394 port
2 x USB 2.0 ports
1 x MIC-in jack
1 x speaker out jack
1 x Type II PCMCIA Slot
As you can see the unit comes with all the ports that are common to a normal notebook. Unlike the I-Buddie, the Excel G550 supports a PCMCIA slot. This allows for the addition of PCMCIA wireless networking, additional external storage options and various other PCMCIA options.
While the G550 has two different screen sizes available on the unit, the model we were shipped was equipped with the 14.1" TFT LCD display. A 15.1" model is also available at a slightly extra cost. While a 15.1" would be nice, 14.1" is more than enough to do what this unit is made for.
Keyboard, Trackpad and access buttons
The keyboard supplied on the Excel G550 is a Honeywell 108-key variety. This keyboard comes with all your standard keys including Windows 95 keys. Like many other laptops, the Fn key is supplied for access to laptop specific functions such as display selection, volume control, monitor contrast and various other functions.
The Excel comes with a Synaptics touchpad with 2-button access with a 4-way directional scroll pad. This pad has up/down/left/right direction. This allows you to scroll on both the horizontal and vertical scroll bars under Windows 9x and XP. While no PS/2 port is supplied onboard, a USB mouse can be used to control the mouse under Windows and the trackpad can be disabled to prevent accidental tapping or moving when typing on the keyboard.
The Excel comes with easy access buttons on the top of the keyboard. These buttons are for power on and off, launching Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator (whatever you prefer) and mail client launch, which also can be set to any mail program you have.
Located on the bottom left of the laptop are 3 LEDs to indicate the system status. These include Power status, Battery status and Suspend Mode status. The HDD access LED is located next to the easy access buttons along with the CAPS lock LED, NUM lock LED and the Scroll lock LED. In all, everything you will need for system status.