We get our hands on Gigabyte's M912V netbook

NVISION —We've been waiting impatiently ever since Gigabyte first let word slip of its upcoming M912V netbook last month.  Today on the Nvision show floor, I got to leave my greasy fingerprints all over one for the first time, and it looks quite impressive.  You can see a full slate of pictures in the gallery below, fortified with booth babes, no less.  As previously announced, the M912V has an 8.9" screen with 1280x768 resolution, which makes for a very high pixel density.  Like many netbooks, this one comes with an Atom processor, a gig of DDR2 memory, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 1.3 megapixel webcam, and three USB ports.  However, the M912V treads into new territory with a screen that's touch-sensitive, swivels 180 degrees, and folds down for tablet-style use.  It even rotates into portrait mode if you like.  I got a chance to try it, and scrolling with a finger on the thing is ridiculously fun.

Gigabyte has also taken things up a notch by including an ExpressCard slot, which is ready and waiting for a cell-network modem card, for true "netbook"-style connectivity.

Somehow, Gigabyte has managed to shoehorn all of this functionality into a package roughly the size of an Eee PC 901.  Like the 901, the M912V's keyboard is pretty small, but it has good tactile feedback and could prove decent enough for email and IM-style typing.

If the M912V has a weakness, it's the rated four-hour battery life, which is about half that of a 901.  In exchange, though, it offers a potent combination of features the Eee PC line lacks.

The M912V is slated to ship next month, and will be coming to North America at a starting price of $799.  The demo unit we saw had a 160GB mobile hard drive, although up to 250GB is possible.  The OS choices should include the tablet edition of Windows XP and Windows Vista Basic.  Prices should drop once the M912V settles into the market, although the initial price tag doesn't seem too bad considering the functionality involved.  This is no cut-rate laptop, but it is a pretty well-appointed ultraportable tablet PC for well under a grand.  Gigabyte may even integrate an antenna and digital TV receiver into a future version of this netbook to further sweeten the deal.

Stay tuned to TR for a full review, of course.

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