JVC Interlink 7310 Review

The 7310 would be the perfect notebook for anyone that demands style and elegance.
The 7310 would be the perfect notebook for anyone that demands style and elegance.
The 7310 would be the perfect notebook for anyone that demands style and elegance.

Highs

  • Elegantly built
  • excellent battery life
  • solid performing

Lows

  • Abnormal screen resolution
  • small keyboard
  • no internal CD/DVD-ROM drive

Summary

The 7310 would be the perfect notebook for anyone that demands style and elegance. For most people, the extremely small size of the 7310 will more than likely be an immediate turnoff. The small keys and display are not practical for most people which is why we say the 7310 is more suited to advanced notebook users. The fact that there is no internal CD/DVD drive also means that an external drive will need to be purchased on top of the initial cost. If a PDA is not sufficient for your needs and a full blown laptop is too much, the JVC Interlink 7310 is a perfect compromise. Just be prepared to pay for this compromise; both in price and functionality. The JVC Interlink 7310 will certainly turn heads anywhere it goes.

Introduction

Just when we thought sub notebook computers could not get any smaller, JVC proved us wrong. Their Interlink 7310 is the smallest Centrino based notebook computer currently available – anywhere. At just 8.58″ x 1.16″ x 6.97″ the JVC 7310 can literally be taken just about anywhere. But does there come a point when smaller is not necessarily better? Read on to see what we think. The JVC Interlink 7310 can be found at iCube for a competitive price of $2199 preloaded with Microsoft’s Windows XP Pro.

Features

The Interlink 7310 features an Intel Centrino based chipset and Pentium M processor running at 1GHz. The standard memory configuration includes 256MB of DDR RAM but can be upgraded to 512MB per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Because the Interlink 7310 uses the same motherboard found in Panasonic’s W2 notebook, this means that, technically, the system memory can be upgraded to 728MB although this is not mentioned in the manufacturers specifications.

The Interlink 7310 also comes with a 40GB hard drive, 64MB of video memory with an 8.9″ XGA display featuring a 1240×600 screen resolution. Now because this system is using the Centrino chipset, this means that it will also have the 802.11b integrated wireless networking. For input and outputs, the Interlink 7310 has USB 2.0, FireWire, VGA out, Ethernet, modem and audio ports. The Interlink 7310 does not come with an integrated CD or DVD drive, nor does it comes with an external floppy or CD/DVD drive, so we recommend picking up a good portable drive such as Pioneer’s DVR-SK12D for use with these laptops. This will set you back another $250 dollars.

JVC 7310 sitting next to the Pioneer DVR-SK12D DVD writer

JVC 7310 sitting next to the Pioneer DVR-SK12D DVD writer

On the left hand side of the system is where the PCMCIA  expansion port and FireWire port is located and on the right hand side is where the USB 2.0, Ethernet/modem and VGA ports can be found. JVC also moved the AC adapter port and audio inputs to the right hand side of the system. You will have to purchase a special VGA dongle if you want to use an external display; the VGA output is not the same as found on other laptops.

Performance

Now since the 7310 uses the same motherboard as the Panasonic W2, performance scores were nearly identical to the Panasonic model. Unfortunately we were unable to run 3dMark 2001 on the 7310 because of the abnormal 1240×600 screen resolution. This screen resolution is apparently not supported by 3dMark. But we would expect the scores to be on par with the W2.

In our SiSoftware Sandra CPU benchmarks, the JVC 7310 edges out the Panasonic and Sony due to its slightly faster processor speed.

JVC 7310 3dMark 2001 scores

Sony’s TR1A takes the lead in the Mobile Mark benchmark because of its 512MB of memory versus the Panasonic’s and JVC’s 256MB.

JVC 7310 Mobile Mark Score
JVC 7310 CPU Arithmetic Score
JVC CPU Multimedia Score

System Configurations:

JVC Interlink 7310

Windows XP Pro; I GHz Intel Pentium M; 256MB SDRAM (DDR) standard, expandable to 512MB ; Intel 855GM integrated video controller max. 64MB (UMA) VRAM; 40GB HDD

Panasonic Toughbook W20

Windows XP Home; 900MHz Intel Pentium M; 256MB SDRAM (DDR) standard, expandable to 512MB ; Intel 855GM integrated video controller max. 64MB (UMA) VRAM; 40GB HDD

Sony VAIO TR1A

Windows XP Home; 900MHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM; Intel 855GM Chipset Integrated Graphics 64MB; 30GB Hard Drive

Design

The 7310 is the third generation of what JVC calls the “mini-note” PC. First and foremost, we have to stress just how small this system is. If two CD-ROM cases were stacked on top of each other that is exactly how tall the 7310 is. Now if those same two CD-ROM cases were laid side by side, that would be the same length as the 7310. The Sony U101 is noticeably smaller than the JVC Interlink 7310, but has a slower processor and is much more difficult to type on.

The JVC Interlink 7310 compared to Gateway's 200XL Sub-notebook

The JVC Interlink 7310 compared to Gateway’s 200XL sub-notebook

The design and layout of the Interlink 7310 is also probably the most polished we have seen. The paint job on the 7310 is a work of art and is something that will want to be protected at all costs. The paint job is similar to a car or pianos, very shiny and deep looking. JVC has fortunately acknowledged this and includes a leather sleeve to keep this system in; very similar to sunglass sleeves. When looking at the top of the system there are two labels on either side of the hood that say “Wireless LAN”. We are not sure if that means the antennae’s are located on either side of the system or not.

We complained that the casing on the Panasonic W2 felt cookie cutter made because it did not fit snuggly on the motherboard, but this is not the case with the 7310. Everything lines up perfectly as if this motherboard was designed only for the 7310. Since the 7310 was developed for the Japanese market, the keys all have Japanese characters on them. What importers like iCube are doing is adding very tiny English character stickers to the keys. These stickers are very durable and we did not experience any problems with them. In fact it is hard to notice they are stickers at all, they are that well implemented.

Probably the most unique feature about the 7310 is the way the battery system works. The integrated battery is good for 1.5-2 hours of continuous use, but what JVC includes with the system is an even larger external battery which can be plugged into the back of the integrated battery for up to 5 hours or more of battery life. This allows you to add even more battery life to the system on the fly, without turning the 7310 off. The extended battery will add some size and weight to the laptop, but looks normal once it is in place.

Use and Testing

If Sony’s TR1A is for advanced notebook users, the 7310 would be more targeted toward notebook masters. But seriously, the 7310 is a very small notebook, albeit not as small as the Sony U101 which is in reality is nearly impossible to type fluently on. The keys are laid out in the same configuration as other sub notebooks, but the keys themselves are a tad bit smaller. The mix of Japanese and English characters also adds to the confusion and will be difficult for users that have to hunt and peck for the keys they want. Key travel itself is on the short to medium range, but can be adapted to after a while. JVC also decided to use a pointer mouse instead of a touch pad. This makes navigating around the desktop much more simple to do over a touchpad on a system of this size. It takes a while to get accustomed to the 7310’s small size and the last thing one wants to worry about is a mouse cursor that jumps around the screen due to the touchpad.

The screen on the 7310 is surprisingly good. On the Panasonic W2 it was easy to notice how the light would bleed from the bottom of the display, but on the 7310, the backlighting appears to be relatively even, at least from all sides. The display on the 7310 is not as good as the Xbrite display Sony uses on their TR1A models however. The 1240×600 screen resolution the 7310 uses is not a standard resolution. This means that some games will most likely not support it forcing the systems resolution to change. However, watching DVD movies will be a treat. The movies fit perfectly in this resolution eliminating the black bars present on both the top and bottom of the movie.

In our wireless networking tests, the 7310 passed with flying colors. Its range was on par with the best that competitors have to offer and we did not have any interference problems from 2.4GHz phones or thick walls in our building. What would be really cool is if the 7310 was upgradeable to the 802.11g wireless protocol like we are seeing on some of the newer notebooks from Dell and Gateway. Only time will tell what JVC decides to do with this. To conserve battery performance or increase security, a simple flip of a switch on the left hand side of the 7310 will turn off the wireless networking altogether.

The battery performance of the 7310 is nothing short of fantastic. We were able to squeeze out almost 2 hours of juice using the stock battery and more than 5 hours with the extended battery plugged in. And this was during real world testing, not with the system using minimal settings.

iCube ships this system with Windows XP Professional and we could not be happier with this decision. We do however recommend upgrading the systems memory, however, to help increase performance. The 256MB that the system comes with is fine for most applications, but hurt the overall score in our Mobile Mark tests compared to systems configured with 512MB. In our SiSofware Sandra tests, which test the processors capability at processing both multimedia and arithmetic operations, the 7310 beat both the Panasonic W2 and the Sony TR1A.

Now since the 7310 uses the same motherboard as the Panasonic W2, performance scores were nearly identical to the Panasonic model. Unfortunately we were unable to run 3dMark 2001 on the 7310 because of the abnormal 1240×600 screen resolution. This screen resolution is apparently not supported by 3dMark. But we would expect the scores to be on par with the W2.

For complete performance specifications and comparisons, please click on the performance tab and link located above and below this review.

Conclusion

The 7310 would be the perfect notebook for anyone that demands style and elegance. For most people, the extremely small size of the 7310 will more than likely be an immediate turnoff. The small keys and display are not practical for most people which is why we say the 7310 is more suited to advanced notebook users. The fact that there is no internal CD/DVD drive also means that an external drive will need to be purchased on top of the initial cost. If a PDA is not sufficient for your needs and a full blown laptop is too much, the JVC Interlink 7310 is a perfect compromise. Just be prepared to pay for this compromise; both in price and functionality. The JVC Interlink 7310 will certainly turn heads anywhere it goes.

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