The Modtech Civic Z7100 is an interesting notebook. The most striking feature is that the trackpad is a long way off centre. This doesn't really affect the usability, but it sure does look strange.
Using an NVIDIA GeForce 6600 Go PCI-Express 128MB graphics card, the Civic posted 80 in WorldBench 5 and 12,886 in 3DMark 2001SE. Very respectable scores for a sub-$2000 notebook.
The major problem the Civic had was with battery life. Relying on a Li-Ion 14.8V, 4400mAh, 65W battery pack, the unit we tested had problems charging past 76 per cent, causing the battery life test to be significantly lower than other notebooks in the test centre. Using Mobile Mark 2002, it scored a mere 114 minutes. Even at 100 per cent, this would only translate to 150 minutes, which is a little short. An extra battery can be added to the modular bay to extend this a little.
On the 15.4in monitor is a built-in microphone and an ambient light sensor. The ambient light sensor is used to adjust screen brightness automatically to conserve battery; alas, it seemed to be totally ineffectual.
Dealing with light isn't a strong point of the Civic, but the sound it produces is immaculate for a notebook. It is up there with the best speakers I have heard on this type of device. This does make it quite a good media PC, with a good quality screen and multimedia keys on the front panel, but if you are planning on watching an epic, the relatively short battery life will surely get in your way.
The build quality seems quite sturdy with an adequately shielded LCD. Weighing 2.9kg, it is no featherweight, but feels as though it would endure a few heavy knocks.
Modtech Civic Z7100
Phone: 1300 303 928
Specifications: Intel Mobile M 740, 1.73 GHz, 533MHz FSB, 2MB cache. 512MB DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) 200-pin SO-DIMM laptop memory. 60GB slim hard drive, 5400rpm. CD-RW/DVD combo slim drive, Intel Wi-Fi 802.11b/g.