Hands-On with the ECS G10IL: The Sexiest Netbook Yet

With this week's announcement of Lenovo entering the mini-notebook space, there were lots of oohs and ahhs over its S10's design. I haven't yet gotten an in-person look at the S10 (like our bud at notebooks.com) but today the ECS G10IL arrived in my hands. The G10IL is one damn good looking 10-inch mini-notebook that may very well give Lenovo's beauty a run for its money.

I have a pre-production ECS G10IL and the company has not yet made public what brand the notebook will come to the U.S. market under. We just know it won't be branded as ECS. Nevertheless, here are my first thoughts on the potential MSI Wind and Eee PC 1000H killer.

Stunning Lid and All-Around Design
As I said before, the ECS G10IL is one nice looking netbook both from the inside and out. The lid is covered in a white glossy finish but is inlaid with thin silver stripes. The unit we have is not like the one that we saw  at Computex; it has a glossier lid and a different hinge.

When we put the ECS G10IL next to an MSI Wind, the G10IL looks shinner and more attractive. Also of note is the ECS' circular and sturdy hinge (check it out in the video), which looks very similar to that of the Sony VAIO FW Series.

The beauty extends under the cover. The white matte inside has a minimalist look and its rounded edges remind me of a Apple MacBook. As for the size of the mini-notebook, it weighed 3.0- pounds which is a tad heavier that the Wind. When put on top of the Wind it appears that the systems are the same exact size, though our G10IL is a bit smaller, perhaps because our Wind has a thicker, 6-cell battery.

A Keyboard With Lots of Breathing Room
The keyboard is nothing but pleasant. It is very similar to the keyboard found on the MSI Wind, however the keys are wider and have a flat shape, reminiscent of recent Macbooks. Our one peeve about the keyboard is the odd placement of the small sized shift key to the right of the up arrow button.

The touchpad is wider than that of the MSI Wind. However, there is the single mouse button, that clicks left or right, below it. The button is also inlaid with blue LED status lights. It's interesting that ECS didn't just put the lights on the side of the pad.

Wide 10-Inch Screen
The 10-inch sunken screen on the system is roomy and bright. When I watched Paris Hilton's campaign video on Hulu.com, colors looked bright and vibrant. I could easily see small details, like her blond strands of hair. Because you cannot push the screen back any further than to about a 75-degree angle there was no noticeable glare.

Early Performance Thoughts
We have a pre-production unit of the ECS G10IL. However, we have no anecdotal performance complaints (we will run some benchmarks on it later on). Its 1.6GHz Intel Atom Processor and 1GB of RAM have no problem pushing Windows XP Professional (with Service Pack 3) along. I made a few calls over Skype while surfing around in Firefox 3 and there was no hold up. Its 120GB Samsung HM121HI hard drive booted the system in 50 seconds.

Very Early Verdict
My few hours alone with the ECS G10IL have me thinking that we could have an MSI Wind and Eee PC 1000H killer on our hands. Sure we don't know when it will come to market or how much it will actually cost (ECS's Henry Kwan told us around $499 a few months back), but that doesn't mean it won't be one of the best 10-inchers around.