iBuypower Battalion-101

iBuypower Battalion-101

iBuypower_Laptop.jpgMean, green, and lean, this laptop combines fast performance with a ridiculously low price

Month Reviewed: July 2004
Verdict: 8
URL: www.ibuypower.com

Someone at iBuypower must be a Mopar fan, because the Battalion-101 SL-series laptop has to be, just has to be, an homage to Plymouth’s muscle cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which sported the same hi-glow Limelight green colors.

But the Battalion-101 has more than color in common with those big block, hemispherical box cars of yore. Another similarity is speed. Powered by an Athlon 64 3400+ and Mobility Radeon 9600, this laptop had no problem chopping up our zero-point laptop’s benchmark scores, which are based on a 1.7GHz P4M core. It’s really no surprise how superior the A64/Battalion-101 is over such an aged notebook, but it does demonstrate how far we’ve come in a year and a half.

In SYSmark 2002, which tests how fast a PC can perform certain tasks in popular applications, the Athlon 64 is about 83 percent faster than our zero-point. In Adobe Premiere 6.0, the Battalion-101 is 159 percent faster, and in our Photoshop tests, it’s 194 percent faster. As Howard Dean would say, “Wee haw!” That’s some kind of speed, son.

But before you light a cigarette and call it a night, remember that our benchmarks are a bit dated. (We’ll be revising them soon.) Compared with a notebook from 18-months ago, the Battalion-101 is a pedal-to-the-metal beast. So how does it hold up against the six blazing-fast notebooks we reviewed in our April issue? The Battalion-101 places mid-pack amidst this elite crowd, coming in just behind the Voodoo PC Envy M:855, which has a slight edge thanks to its faster DDR400 RAM and slightly faster clock speed graphics card.

Unfortunately, like the Voodoo Envy M:855, the iBuypower Battalion-101 exhibits piss-poor sound. The sound from the onboard speakers is so poor, in fact, our 1970s’ muscle car analogy holds up yet again: We’re talking AM radio versus DVD-Audio. Ugh.

The Battalion-101 does offer excellent battery life. In our run-down test, we play a DVD until the unit stops. The Battalion-101 gave us just less than three hours of battery life, which is enough to watch most DVD movies from beginning to end. While this isn’t Centrino-caliber extended battery life, it’s phenomenal nonetheless when you consider how much power the Athlon 64 serves up.

The Battallion-101 packs Wi-Fi in G and B flavors, Fast Ethernet, and a card reader for SD and Smart Media. There’s also FireWire A, an Infrared port, and a 7,200rpm hard drive.

At the end of our analysis, however, neither garish color nor astounding speed made us blush as much as the insanely low pricing. To wit, Voodoo’s Envy M:855, which costs $3,400 in April 2004 dollars, is virtually the same as the Battalion-101 save the RAM and DVD burner. The Battalion-101 costs $2,195. We were prepared to ding the hell out of the Battalion for its sub-par sound performance and the, umm, unusual aesthetic, but at this price, the notebook is an incredible steal. --Gordon Mah Ung

+Hemi Barracuda: Great performance, good battery life, and crazy-low pricing.

-Pacer: Awful onboard speakers and mushy scroll pad.

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