WinBook C series review: WinBook C series

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.4
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Battery life: 8.0
  • Service and support: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good DVD writer and Wi-Fi standard; includes flash-memory readers; long battery life; good performance.

The Bad Cluttered edges; limited documentation.

The Bottom Line Moderate pricing and solid basics make this a good choice if you appreciate function over fashion.

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Review summary

WinBook packs its C-series notebooks with all of the standard features that traveling professionals expect: wireless networking, a writable optical drive to make backups, and a battery that chugs along for more than four hours. A couple of surprise features, such as an S-Video connector and FireWire ports, even accommodate video hounds. There's nothing superspecial about this line, and the design is a little clumsy in places, but the WinBook C offers strong performance with solid basics at a reasonable price. WinBook sells the C series in two configurations, the C120 and the C170. We reviewed the C120 version, which currently costs about $1,500. The WinBook C170 comes with a slightly faster processor and a bigger hard drive but costs about $400 more. The WinBook C-series notebook looks calm and businesslike. It has a silver lid and a charcoal base, and it spreads out slightly more than 12 inches wide by 11 inches deep. At 1.3 inches thick and 5.9 pounds (6.7 with its AC supply), the C notebook is reasonably portable.

The notebook is easy to hold and carry. There are no protruding connectors on its back panel because that is where the battery is inserted, so you don't risk damaging anything by placing it down on its end. Setting the notebook on its nose is less convenient because of a series of buttons along its front panel.

The buttons on the front panel include controls for playing CDs in the optical drive when the notebook is powered down, a button to turn the Centrino 802.11b radio on and off, and a switch that locks the other buttons so that you don't accidentally drain the battery. Two stacked card-reader slots located just left of center on the front panel accept four card formats commonly used in digital cameras: SmartMedia; MultiMediaCard; Secure Digital; and Memory Stick. You'll also find headphone and microphone jacks on the front edge. All of the buttons and jacks make the front feature-rich but messy. If you try to type and listen to music, your headphone cable runs between you and the keyboard. This cluttered design results from consigning the battery to the back edge, which shields the WinBook C from damage in a carrying case but can also make it a little awkward to use.

Working on the WinBook C is a mixed bag. The keyboard sags, but it operates very quietly and provides a nice pop sound when you hit a key. Only the Escape key is too small. A four-way scroll button located between the touchpad's left- and right-click buttons responds well, but a pair of tiny stereo speakers at the top of the keyboard produces scratchy, subpar audio quality. The 14-inch (diagonal), 1,024x768 screen has good color and uniformity across the screen; however, color leaks through black pixels, giving text a disconcerting rainbow backdrop. In addition to the card memory slots on the front panel, WinBook equipped the C series with other media-oriented features, including an S-Video port and a four-pin FireWire port. It also has a single Type II PC Card slot; an infrared port; Ethernet, modem, and Wi-Fi networking ports; and three USB 2.0 ports--though there's no legacy parallel or PS/2 ports. Both the C120 and the C170 models run graphics on an integrated Intel 82852/82855 controller that uses system memory, and both have 512MB of PC2100 memory installed. Unfortunately, the memory fills both memory slots, so to upgrade later, you'd have to remove one of the installed modules. You can buy the system new with 1GB installed for about $300 extra.

CNET's model C120 test system had a 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M processor and a 40GB hard drive; the C170 model has a 1.6GHz Pentium M and a 60GB drive. Both come with Windows XP Pro.

We were pleased that the battery in our tests held out for more than four hours; however, an extra main battery costs a pricey $199. The bay holding the removable DVD-RW drive doesn't support a second battery. Mobile application performance
Even with its slower 1.4GHz processor and 4,200rpm hard drive, the WinBook C series came in a close third place in mobile performance. The HP Pavilion zt3000, which came in first place, had the advantage of having the fastest processor and a 1.7GHz Pentium M, but its 4,200rpm hard drive held it back from achieving great performance and thus scored only six minutes faster than the WinBook C series. The Dell Inspiron 600M scored only a few points above the WinBook C series, even with its faster Pentium M 1.6GHz processor and its speedier 5,400rpm hard drive. For a 1.4GHz-based system, the WinBook C series achieves great performance when running office and content-creation apps in an unplugged state.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate faster performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  
HP Pavilion zt3000
170 
Dell Inspiron 600M
169 
WinBook C series
164 

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.

Find out more about how we test notebook systems.

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 600M
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

HP Pavilion zt3000
Windows XP Home; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2080AT 80GB 4,200rpm

WinBook C series
Windows XP Professional; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 855GM (up to 64MB shared); IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 4,200rpm
The WinBook C series was the clear winner in battery life, as it lasted more than four hours with its 14.8V, 4,400mAh (65WHr) battery. The WinBook C series had the advantage of having the slowest processor, which draws less battery power. The HP Pavilion zt3000 had much more than three hours of battery life, thanks to its 14.8V, 4,400mAh (65WHr) battery. The system's score was more than 20 minutes greater than that of the Dell Inspiron 600M, which has a less powerful, 11.1V, 4,320mAh (48WHr) battery. The WinBook C series can run office and content-creation apps in an unplugged state and yet still give you ample time to get your work done before the battery dies.

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  
WinBook C series
256 
HP Pavilion zt3000
223 
Dell Inspiron 600M
201 

To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark 2002. MobileMark measures both application performance and battery life concurrently using a number of popular applications (Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, WinZip Computing WinZip 8.0, McAfee VirusScan 5.13, Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1, and Macromedia Flash 5.0).

Performance analysis written by CNET Labs assistant lab manager Eric Franklin.

Find out more about how we test notebook systems.

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 600M
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

HP Pavilion zt3000
Windows XP Home; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9200 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2080AT 80GB 4,200rpm

WinBook C series
Windows XP Professional; 1.4GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel 855GM (up to 64MB shared); IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 4,200rpm
WinBook's warranty card states that you get only three months of coverage unless you register your purchase to extend it to a year by providing your name and contact information. WinBook uses the information "to inform you of special offers, new products, and any additional information" about the company. Hello, junk mail. You can add a second year of warranty for $99 or add two years for $119. WinBook also offers toll-free telephone support, available weekdays 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. The company has one of the industry's most generous policies on screen defects: one dead or stuck-on pixel or four partially defective pixels qualifies for replacement.

We were disappointed with the C series' documentation. Previous WinBook products we've tested came with long, detailed manuals, but this notebook's manual is a little thin, literally.

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Where to Buy

WinBook C series

Part Number: C120 Released: Aug. 1, 2003
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Aug. 1, 2003
  • Resolution 1024 x 768 ( XGA )
  • Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Installed Size 512 MB
  • Weight 5.5 lbs
  • Optical Drive DVD-RW / DVD-RAM - fixed
  • Graphics Processor AGP - Intel Extreme Graphics 2
  • CPU Intel Pentium M 1.4 GHz