Reviews: Sotec Notebooks
Reviews on notebooks from a new entry in the US, Sotec
Since this is a new notebook brand and many people are asking about them, I'll post reviews that I find here.
My philosophy is to buy from well-known name brands, but this notebook has
garnered enough interest for me to put some information about it here. Their website says that they are a subsidiary of
a 14 year old company from Japan and they are striving for high quality, low cost and customer satisfaction. Just remember
that if you do purchase one, make sure you get some type of extended warranty to protect yourself (and I recommend that
no matter what brand of notebook you buy).
4 User Reviews: Jan 16, 2003 | Dec 18, 2002 | Dec 8, 2002 | Dec 6, 2002
1 Net Review: Mar 5, 2003 - C|Net Review of Sotec 3120X
January 16, 2003
A review by Karl G. who emailed me this review.
Cons (not really but I have to say something negative about it):
Very solid case….my two year old Dell Inspiron $2K notebook (that my wife grabbed for Pharmacy school) is much more flimsy and less structurally sound. Display is very good and weight less than 5 lbs.
Worked right out of the box… everything the first time. Sound system is better than my above mentioned Dell. I use this cheapy notebook to play MP3s on flights and cement mfg. sounds into an expensive optimization system on site demos & system testing.
Price was $900 at a Walmart Superstore. I found this on the web after your other viewer said to check it out elsewhere besides Best Buy.
Battery life appears to be 3 hours or more (except if you are burning a CD, you better be on AC).
Three USB ports are very nice. I have a wireless mouse in one, serial/parallel port breakout hub on another and then one to spare.
Overall very happy with this system and expected far worse. I have been thinking of even buying another as a spare. See price reason below.
Delete key is in a weird spot but after a week of using it, I am used to the location. Same goes for accidentally hitting the numlock key which puts it in the “Fn” mode where all kinds of alternative characters get printed. This is the only time I consulted the manual to learn to hit the numlock key again (on purpose this time) to get the regular key settings back.
Well this is not really a con but bugs me a bit…I teach a big class at a big school in engineering and on the first day I showed it off to my students and told them where to buy it. Later a couple students came to me and said it looks great and by the way Best Buy now has $200 in discount coupons on it…. so you can pick it up for $750! I have too much software installed and time invested on this notebook to take it back and save another $150 by getting now at Best Buy.
December 18, 2002
A review by Glenn B. (firstname.lastname@example.org) from the comp.sys.laptops newsgroup.
OUT OF THE BOX
Packaged very neatly. You get a 3 CD Restore Kit, a nice instruction
manual and an OEM MS Works 6.0 CD. This thing is SO LIGHT-It's like
carrying a 5 subject sized paper notebook. This will be nice when I
lug books around for another semester. My last laptop was like a ton
I booted it up and this one is so quiet. I had to check and see if
the fan worked because it is so quiet. The casing feels really
light-I hope this means it can take normal usage without an early
crack here and there.
The keyboard layout is really interesting to say the least. The
up/down/left/right arrows are bundled up with other key functions.
The spacebar on this one is very responsive-my warranty repair
notebook I almost had to hit and hold for it to space once- I don't
recommend it if you have big fingers-the keys are squashed
WinXP booted rather quickly and the screen resolution is so
amazingly crisp for a notebook of this price. The DVD movie I played
in it looked better than my TV resolution.
The speakers won't power the next major Bass Boom generation-they
are functional at best. Turning on the 3D audio does help some, but
for movies and other things you want to hear well, invest in some
headphones. The MIDI output is decent-I haven't tried the microphone
This is what makes it a bargain-the Combo drive. Sotec bundles in
the WinDVD player for movies and Roxio EZ CD Creator and it ROCKS!
I'll make the adjustments Michael suggested in his post about the
An unusual shape, but it looks to average 2.5 hours. You can have
the BIOS "learn" the battery so your power gauge is more accurate-
never seen that feature before..
I just hooked up the LAN cable to the laptop, let WinXP take me
through the setup and WHAM, I was on the network. At work, I can
plug in just to use the internet bandwidth and this little baby can
download things lightning fast. I wish I had DSL at home.
There is no floppy drive, but Sotec will sell you a USB Floppy Drive
for $49. I've never seen one, so that's news to me. The 3 USB ports
seem more than ample to hook up a printer, and other items. I like
them on the right side. If it weren't for the battery on the back,
the back would've been so much better.
The modem is a flip-out door that I had to realize I needed to plug
the jack in at an angle. I'm afraid I'll break it because it seems
so flimsy. Connection speed has been better than my desktop using
the same number/line to dial in.
Oddly placed on the front side to the left of the touch pad, but at
this price, I'm glad to have them on the notebook at all.
Normally the 3120X comes with a 20GB hard drive. The 3123X sold at Sam's
Club has 30 GB-for the same price.
This SOTEC 3123X seems to be a durable piece of equipment loaded
with everything needed for a portable computer-with DVD capability.
I think my first notebook was probably a fluke with problems out of
the box, but this one seems like a solidly built unit.
I do have a SOTEC Notebook support page in the beginnings on Yahoo
Post message: SotecNotebook@yahoogroups.com
List owner: SotecNotebookemail@example.com
December 8, 2002
A review by tyson (firstname.lastname@example.org) from the comp.sys.laptops newsgroup.
I have been looking for a thin light laptop for several months. I
originally was going to buy a used IBM ThinkPad for under a $1000. I did
not want a Dell because I found the CPU fan too loud (I am an audio
engineer). When this deal came along I decided to buy it. My impressions:
Fast! 1.2Ghz is nothing to sneeze at. Since it is based on the P-III core
(and running at 133Mhz system bus), I can't complain.
256MB RAM to start-off. Good amount of ram to start of with. Having
multiple applications running has not been a problem.
DVD/CD-RW. For such a small computer to have the combo drive is cool.
When I run out of space I can burn some files off. The DVD playback is
LCD screen is very bright and nice output. No bad pixels.
Windows XP. The laptop was all set to go. I turn on the computer, input
my information and off I go. Standby and hibernate work every time.
Drivers. I like that on Sotec's website they have drivers for all the win
98/ME/NT/2000/XP OS. So if I want to install a different OS I can. I
don't know if you can install Linux.
3 USB plugs. I can plug in my USB mouse and Printer at the same time
without using a hub.
4 pounds! You are not going to find a new system this light at this price
range. All the new $699-$899 laptops weigh at least 6 lbs or more.
Cool. The problem with the AMD laptops is that the chip is so damn hot. I
can rest the laptop on my lap and not have to worry about burning my legs.
Built-in LAN and Modem (which runs very fast unlike some other laptops do
not give you the full bandwidth).
Too bad it doesn't have speed step like the P-III mobile. The CPU runs at
1.45v where the P-III runs around 1.10v. This would help extend the life
of the battery.
Keyboard. It does have a strange placement of the del and backspace key.
It will take some time to train myself on the keyboard.
Weak speakers. I understand you are not going to get great sound out of
the system but I heard better systems from Dell and HP. You have to modify
the settings in the control panel to get it louder. Had to find out about
this on their tech support website
Crackling sound in audio output. Since the plug is close to the HD, you
hear it spin up and down during the quiet passages. I'm not worried
because I am getting an external USB sound converter. The crackling sound
is a common problem on the laptops because of the tight space on the
No IR port. So far I haven't seen anyone mention anything about this.
It'll be nice if it had this but be aware of this unusually missing
This is my first laptop purchase and I am pleased with the built-in
features. I know I can add fire wire or wireless through the PCMCIA slot.
I am a happy customer (at least for the past two weeks.
December 6, 2002
An anonymous user from the comp.sys.laptops newsgroup posted this review:
1.2ghz Mobile Celeron / 12" XGA / 256MB RAM / 20GB Hard Drive / DVD-CDRW
Office Depot : $804 after 10% coupon and $50 rebate
Who should buy this?
This is perfect for people that understand that "Laptops should be portable"
and not "Desktops in a bag". Its lightweight, packed with everything you
need and cheap as heck.
At $949 retail then this is a steal. You can get it cheaper at walmart/sams
club or with coupons at office depot. Yes, there are faster, more powerful
notebooks out there but those are in another class. This is an ultralight
with onboard dvd/cdrw so for what you get its very affordable
Magnesium Alloy case. I always love laptops that use that. It looks silver
in pictures but mine has a hint of blue in it.
Well, I understand that laptops don't need to be equivalent to your home
desktop. So the processor being "only" 1.2ghz Celeron doesn't bother me at
all. Its plenty fast for any normal sensible user. Its nice to see that
despite the low price it comes with 256mb RAM. My last notebook only came
with 128mb so I had to fork over some extra money right away. 256 here will
keep me happy for a while.
3USB 1.1, Ethernet, 1 PCMCIA, VGA out, headphone and mic jack and modem.
Pretty standard stuff. A bit TOO standard for me. No firwire? No S-Video?
What about my divx files? This would've been a great portable Divx player.
The port positioning for some things are weird too. The usb are all on the
right side. Meaning, when I put in my USB mouse then its awkward. The usb
shouldve been on the other side. Headphone and volume are on the front of
the machine and the vga is on the left side. Weird.
Works like a charm. At 10x burning then its very handy when on the road.
Plus DVD's are always a good time waster. Everything worked as promised.
I timed it at 2:10 before my 10% warning came up while installing. It ran
another 20 minutes before hibernating. I figure that during less strenuous
activities then you'll average 2:45
1024x768 on 12" screen takes some getting used to. But since I had that
before on my Gateway 3150 then it wasn't too tough. It is small though
compared to what the other guys out there have but again, it's a laptop.
Personally 13" is the sweet spot but 12 is just fine on this guy.
By far the thing that I hate the most here. Whoever designed this thing in
Japan obviously doesn't understand how keyboards should look. I may be
exaggerating but still, this keyboard takes some getting used to. Primarily
due the backspace, insert, delete and arrows layout. (See Picture) I am
constantly hitting "end" instead of backspace and "del" instead of the right
arrow. "PrtSc", "Scroll Lock", "Num Lock" and "Pause Break" all get their
own dedicated buttons on top while "F11" "F12" "Pg Up" "Pg Dn" are forced
to requiring holding down the "Fn" in order to work. Pretty ridiculous.
Its not bad. Standard stuff. I do like volume wheels so that you can control
the volume quickly without using hotkeys
Pretty quiet machine. There is a fan on back and on the bottom which turn
on when needed and so far they don't turn on much. Ive had some loud laptops
before so this one is pretty good so far.
1 slot for Ram upgrades and there already is a 128mb chip in there. So if
you want to max it out to 356 MB then you need to dump the 128 and buy a
256. The processor has a "void if removed" sticker and a few screws so it
looks upgradeable but outside of that then this is a disposable machine.
Hard drive and cdrom and both fixed so 20gb is what you're stuck with.
- Extremely affordable for an ultralight
- Onboard DVD / CDRW
- Magnesium Case instead of plastic
- Keyboard layout takes getting used to
- Sotec? Popular in Japan but who knows how they'll do here
If you have a Sotec notebook review you would like me to link to, please send me an email at