We didn’t want to miss a chance to install Windows 7 and try it out on Point of View’s Mobii ION. The specifications and performance are quite enough in order to pleasantly run Windows 7 with all the eye candy that you can think of. Of course, our test sample came with 2GB of memory while the retail one has only 1GB of system memory. We are quite sure that even with 1GB of memory Windows 7 experience will be decent.
We must confess that Windows 7 looks and feels good, and it's quite a bit more useful than the Windows XP, especially if you want to use everything that Nvidia’s ION has to offer. According to what we managed to find out, Point of View should launch Mobii ION mini with Windows 7 as well and we would certainly recommend it over the Windows XP version, especially if it comes with 2GB of memory.
When you compare a netbook with Nvidia’s ION graphics and a netbook with Intel’s integrated graphics you must mention a couple of things. For starters, Intel’s 945G isn’t capable of playing 720p video and we don’t even want to talk about 1080p, while Nvidia ION has no trouble with it, but we’ll get to that a bit later. Next in line is Nvidia’s CUDA, which can be used for a lot of things, but the one that is most important to consumers is the fact that it can accelerate video enhancement and transcoding, something that you may find very useful.
We tried Badaboom in order to transfer a video file to Zune, and it was significantly faster than on the notebook with Intel integrated graphics. There is also the MotionDSP vReveal for video enhancements, Cyberlink’s Mediashow Espresso and Power Director 7 and bunch of other programs which can take the advantage that Nvidia’s ION can offer.
Of course, we must not forget the fact that Nvidia has recently showed a GPU accelerated flash on ION as well. Although it is still not out, it will add additional value to ION-equipped nettops and netbooks.
The HD playback is one of the things were ION has the upper hand over any other netbook solution on the market. This means that you can turn your small netbook into a home theater system capable of playing both 720p and the 1080p video via HDMI output.
We now must go back to the Window 7 or Windows XP topic. As you all probably know, Windows 7 and Vista have EVR (Enhanced Video Rendering) and while this is enabled HD playback works like a charm. On the other hand, Windows XP doesn't have this, and it is a bit harder to make it decode HD content. We didn't say that it is impossible, just that it is a bit harder.
In order to get the x.264 720p/1080p HD decoding to work on Windows XP, you'll need the latest ION driver, latest DirectX version, a K-lite codec pack and Media Player Classic Home Cinema (GPU accelerated). Other combinations and options might work as well, but only this one made it possible for us. The key is to use Overlay Mixer, VMR7, VMR9 or VMR9 renderless inside the playback/output options of either your codec pack or the Media Player Classic options menu.
This way the CPU utilization is still higher than on Windows 7, but both 720p and the 1080p playback works like a charm.
Point of View certainly surprised us with its Mobii ION mini netbook. We honestly didn't expect that much from a €339 netbook. We were quite surprised to see that Point of View was one of the first manufacturers to get an ION based netbook to the European market and to be quite competitive with the likes of Acer, Samsung, MSI or Asus.
The only thing where Point of View can't compete with others is the fact that currently only few retailers/e-tailers have it in stock and your best bet is Alternate.de, which is not that bad as Alternate is surely one of the biggest European sellers.
Nvidia ION already bought us when we reviewed Acer's Aspire Revo nettop, but when you consider the fact that ION basically has no competition in this segment, as Intel's GMA 945G can hardly put up a fight, you can see why ION looks that good.
Don't get us wrong, Point of View Mobii ION mini is still a netbook, and you can never consider it a full time system as the keyboard and the screen are still too small for anything. On the other hand, having the possibility to turn your netbook into a full home theater system capable of hooking up to your 1080p TV via an HDMI cable and have no trouble in reproducing anything that you can throw at it is a real advantage over your regular netbook.
The direct competition for the POV Mobii ION mini netbook is Samsung’s N510-anyNet, which has a bigger screen, probably a bigger keyboard and uses Intel’s Atom N270 processor. Of course, as you can see from the tests, Atom 230 is practically the same deal as the N270 except for the fact that N270 might use less battery and be cooler due to its lower TDP. On the other hand, Samsung’s N510-anyNet is more expensive and can be found for around €450 so you pay quite a bit more for 1.4-inches of screen and a different CPU.
It is basically a matter of necessity, as you either want a super portable netbook with ION graphics that you can easily pull out from your bag and place on an airplane tray and watch HD movies or you want Samsung’s bigger one as you like to have a bigger screen and “slightly” bigger keys.
We can easily recommend the Mobii, as it has a decent, €339 price tag, looks good and surprising build quality. It silently took everything that we’ve thrown at it and made it possible, and it certainly will turn a head or two with its colour. If you happen to get a comment that it is actually just a calculator with a fancy screen, make sure that you have Call of Duty 4 installed as it would raise an eyebrow or two as well.