Mitsubishi Pedion review

We’re all used ro the onrushing express train of PC product development. In fact, we’re so used to it that only something really special can make us slow down. Mitsubishi stopped us dead in our tracks this month, with two products that left us amazed.

Mitsubishi Pedion review

They’re known as the Pedion and the Amity CN (reviewed p153). Both of them are ultra-portable notebooks. Both of them are cutting-edge technological marvels. Both of them are so new that they’ve come to us straight from Japan. They’re so audacious

and unbelievable that more than once I found myself looking around for Jeremy Beadle and his cameras. Yes, I know this is the April issue, but honest – these machines are the real deal.

If you’ve ever suffered after balancing a heavy, heat-radiating, so-called ‘portable’ on your lap for a long journey, then the Pedion is the notebook you’ve dreamed of owning. It’s incredibly thin at just 18mm high and very light at only 1.45kg. It’s covered in a metallic grey and black magnesium alloy, which makes it rough as well as light. The Pedion is also well equipped inside, with a Pentium/233 MMX processor, 64Mb of RAM and a 1Gb hard disk.

Okay, so we’re excited. Opening the Pedion – gingerly at first, although the almost paper-thin screen back is actually quite rigid – reveals a keyboard that looks like something out of a nightmare. It’s practically flat, the keys raised only enough to let them have a three-dimensional appearance. In fact, looking at our photographs, you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a totally flat keyboard membrane, reminiscent of Sinclair’s classic ZX81.

But as you lay your fingertips on the keys and start to type, an almost miraculous thing occurs – the keyboard works. As this is a Japanese model, there are some extraneous keys, but in general the layout is excellent. The space bar is small, but should increase in size if some of the other keys are removed. The key is also a good size, and there are 12 function keys.

What’s obviously different about the Pedion’s keyboard is the keys themselves. They’re barely high enough to register when you hit them, but in less than a minute of use I was up to my fairly rapid typing speed. In a notebook with a form factor this small, having a usable keyboard is essential, and Mitsubishi must be congratulated for getting it right.

Below this keyboard you’ll find one of the few flies in the Pedion’s ointment – the trackpad. Mitsubishi wanted to point out that this will probably change before production, which is necessary, because the Pedion’s trackpad is fairly unusable – prone to shooting around the screen without prompting, or occasionally just refusing to acknowledge my fingertip was even present. This is obviously unacceptable, and hopefully Mitsubishi will rectify things before full production.

When you do get the cursor to move, you’ll be tracking its movement on the Pedion’s 12.lin TFT screen. Displaying 800 x 600 pixels at a 16-bit colour depth, the Pedion’s screen is bright, clear and very impressive for something of this size. Closing the Pedion, after you’ve marvelled at the incredible similarity between it and a pad of A4 paper, you might be inclined to look around the edges. As you might imagine with 18mm of space, there isn’t much here. The right-hand side is featureless apart from LED indicatorsfor power, battery charging and hard disk activity. The rear holds an AC-in port, infrared port, USB port and headphones socket. The left-hand side holds two PC Card slots which can take one Type II card each.

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