Frontier FRNL: A direct attack to Apple AirDale Davies ▼ | Sunday March 16, 2008 3:50AM ET
It is known to our regular readers that I never wrote about Apple MacBook Air. And that was a deliberate decision. Although I use both Pc (from 1984) and Mac (from 1987), I recently gave up. The elimination of word "computer" was clear sign that Apple will become a regular manufacturer of... how to put it... electronic devices. The advent of MacBook Air was the triumph of arrogance and design over brain. Apple computer always was a fashion statement but very useful computer at the same time. But, Air is just fashion statement with very limited functionality.
While surfing the web and searching for a new and exciting notebook that could capture your attention and wallet, I learned about very interesting concept that compares itself with a MacBook Air. And with a reason. The company is in Japan, the name is Frontier, and the name of a notebook is FRNL. Putting the ugly name aside (although still better that CDX1254-FR3-ER-99 that can be found on some notebooks), Frontier's notebook is very promising device.
First, it is lighter then Air and very, very thin with strength of an elephant. Frontier FRNL weights 1.25 kg, and dimensions are 296 x 30.8 x 209mm with 12.5 mm at the thinnest point. The second good thing is the waterproof keyboard and the case that can hold 120 kg of pressure. A fall from 76 centimetres it will survive. So far, so good.
The screen is 12.1-inch, glossy wide with standard resolution of 1,280 × 800 pixels and picture is created via built-in graphic that can allocate 128 MB out of total 1 GB. In this kind of notebook it would be unreasonably to expect stand-along graphic card. That picture can be send to external display. The hard drive has good-for-work capacity of 80GB, rotating on standard 4200rpm, and that P-ATA disk has a G sensor that allows it to survive a fall.
Contrary to MacBook Air, Frontier FRNL has it all: You'll find headphone jack, microphone input, RJ-11 port for modem, RJ-45 for network, two USB ports, D-Sub15 connector for external display, Smartcard slot, Kensington lock, Kensington lock, Fingerprint sensor... Standard 3-cell battery will suffice for 4 hours of work, and extended one will give you 8.5 hours. Very, very good and very appropriate for business on the road.
The heart is, in a way, a weakest link. The heart of Frontier FRNL if Intel A110, a processor that works on 800 MHz, manufactured using 90-nm technology. At first it seems that 800 MHz is too weak for any serious work. But, if you ever saw a Kohjinsha UMPC with that processor (if not, believe me), you know that A110 has enough power for everyday tasks, excluding games (they're not for managers, anyway) and many open applications at the same time. Another but... But, considering what Frontier FRNL has inside a stronger processor would be welcome. With a more powerful Intel FRNL would be 10 times better that Air. With A110, its just 9 times better. ■