The slanting position of the indicators makes them visible irrespective of the position of the lid. The front panel also has a card-reader’s slit of the SD format, a lever to extract PCMCIA cards (the PCMCIA slot is located on the left side of the case), and a 4-pin FireWire port.
The notebook’s peripheral ports are mostly located on the right panel:
- Network RJ-45 port
- Modem RJ-11 port
- Two USB 2.0 ports
- Headphones output with a mechanical volume control and a microphone input (mini-jack)
The left panel carries the following: a PCMCIA slot, a mechanical two-position switch for wireless interfaces (many modern notebooks can only disable their wireless interfaces through software), a vent opening, and a power connector.
The rear panel has no connectors just because there is no place left to put them in – the battery module occupies most of the available space.
The Power On button is placed under the screen and in the center, so you can’t press it accidentally.
A mini-joystick is this notebook’s default pointing device and I should confess it takes some time to get used to it and to find the most suitable sensitivity settings. It is a specific device, so many users will prefer to connect an external mouse (the hot air from the cooling system is exhausted to the left, so right-handed people won’t feel any discomfort).
A fingerprint scanner is located next to the mini-joystick. You may have already met such authentication gadgets. If not, be aware that the scanner may get your fingerprint wrong if your fingers are moist or dirty. Such mistakes occur seldom, but are quite irritating nonetheless, so you may want to disable this protection system altogether unless you do fear your sub-notebook can be stolen.
The screen has 7.2 inches in diagonal which is rather strange as the size of the lid is full 9 inches. And the native resolution of the screen is a whopping 1280x768! No wonder everything looks tiny on it until you enable the large icons/large fonts mode.
The image quality is high. Darkest or lightest colors don’t merge into one, so you can always discern details on dark or light areas of the onscreen image. There are no blatant errors in color reproduction; the skin color looks natural. Smooth color gradients are reproduced with hardly noticeable gradations, but without color or brightness noise. The maximum and minimum brightness of white is 194cd/sq.m and 5cd/sq.m, respectively. The uniformity of the screen backlighting as measured by the ANSI/IEC methodology is no worse than 86% which is a very good result for a notebook. The screen brightness can be set to one of 8 levels you can choose with appropriate hot keys. The viewing angles are rather wide (except when you’re looking at the screen from below), so there’s more than one appropriate position for your head before the screen. The matrix is quite fast subjectively – the “ghosting” effect isn’t conspicuous and doesn’t lead to loss of detail or distortion of color in a moving object. The screen has a special mirror coating that makes the colors lush and saturated, but the reflection of your own face on the screen may be distracting at times.
The keys are smaller than on ordinary keyboards. So even if you have the blind typing skill, you won’t be able to type in text quickly and easily on this notebook. Part of this review was written on the Libretto U100-S213 itself and I personally found the non-standard placement of the auxiliary keys (like Del, Home and End) inconvenient.