JVC MP-XV841 review: JVC MP-XV841

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MSRP: $2,299.95

The Good Long battery life; decent performance; internal CD-RW/DVD combo drive; complete software bundle; good support.

The Bad Expensive; extremely small keyboard; tiny 8.9-inch screen; small navigation buttons.

The Bottom Line The ultraportable JVC MP-XV841's novelty will wear off after an hour's use: it's just too small for serious computing.

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6.4 Overall
  • Design 3
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 8
  • Support 7


The JVC MP-XV841 is small even for an ultraportable laptop. In fact, some of its features--namely, the keyboard and the screen--are so small that they seem more appropriate for a child's toy. Weighing in at a scant 3.2 pounds, the MP-XV841's miniature aspect is acceptable on an aesthetic level, but it doesn't make it any easier to use this laptop, despite the system's fairly fast performance and long battery life. The JVC MP-XV841 isn't cheap, either, at $2,399 (as of September 2004). If you're mostly interested in watching movies on an airplane, check out a much less expensive portable DVD player. If you're looking for a laptop that's roughly the same size as the MP-XV841, we recommend the slightly bigger, less expensive, and much more functional IBM ThinkPad X40 instead.

Though it's half black and half silver, we're tempted to call JVC's MP-XV841 a Sony VAIO TR3A derivative. JVC's laptop weighs only 3.2 pounds and includes a CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive--just like the VAIO TR3A--whereas many comparably light systems forego an optical drive. However, measuring 9.3 inches wide, 8.5 inches deep, and 1.3 inches high, the MP-XV841 is slightly smaller than the VAIO TR3A; it also lacks the latter's trademark video camera. The keyboard's tiny 15.8mm keys are too small for extensive typing, and there's no touch pad--just a small pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard. The MP-XV841 also has eight mini-Chiclet-like buttons to control the CD/DVD player, adjust the display's brightness level, and lock the keyboard. These buttons are a nice gesture, but even our moderate-size fingers had a hard time with them: they're far too small. We were more impressed with the MP-XV841's offering of ports and slots, which includes one Type II PC Card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, and a slot for Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard media.

The MP-XV841 simply doesn't have enough internal space for the fans needed to keep superfast processors running cool; it features a slower 1GHz Pentium M CPU. With an Intel 855GME graphics chip that borrows up to 64MB of video memory from main system RAM, the system managed to pull off respectable scores in CNET Labs speed tests. It likely would have performed even better if it could hold more than 256MB of RAM. The MP-XV841's components include an average-size, 40GB drive spinning at a slow 4,200rpm. The unit's chunky lithium-ion battery attaches at the hinge; this detracts from the MP-XV841's overall look, but the system did quite well in CNET Labs battery-drain tests, holding out for a long 310 minutes--94 minutes longer than the Sony VAIO TR3A.

In addition to Microsoft Windows XP Professional, JVC bundles a few multimedia applications with the MP-XV841. Two Pinnacle Systems' apps--Studio 9.0 and Hollywood FX 5.0--let you capture, edit, and add 3D images to video clips. InterVideo's WinDVD 5.0 provides DVD playback capabilities. JVC offers the laptop-industry standard in support: a one-year parts-and-labor warranty with 24/7, toll-free phone help. But in a refreshing departure from the generic FAQ catalogs of most notebook manufacturers, JVC has a long list of entries specific to the MP-XV841 on its support Web site.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

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