WinBook J4 (3.06GHz) review: WinBook J4 (3.06GHz)

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.9
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 9.0
  • Battery life: 5.0
  • Service and support: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Large screen; very fast graphics; room for options.

The Bad Expensive; big and heavy; no support for a second battery.

The Bottom Line The WinBook J4 is a big, fast, expensive desktop replacement for corporations or gamers looking for top performance.

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At first glance, WinBook's latest desktop replacement looks like a wholly new design with its cool, black, rubberized case. In fact, the new WinBook J4 has the same basic dimensions, weight, and design as previous models we've reviewed. Inside, though, it's a different story. WinBook has replaced the J4's brains with Intel's top-speed 3.06GHz Pentium 4 desktop processor--the first we've seen in a notebook. This helped the WinBook deliver spectacular performance on CNET Labs' graphics performance tests, and the system's 15-inch display makes the viewing experience even more enjoyable. The 8.3-pound WinBook J4 costs more than $3,000, but it includes just about every feature you can think of. You may never need a desktop again.



The media bay is swappable but can't take a second battery.
The WinBook J4 measures 13 by 11 by 1.9 inches and weighs a shoulder-straining 8.3 pounds (9.5 pounds with AC adapter). It has most, if not all, of the features a notebook needs to usurp your desktop PC. For example, its 15-inch screen displays 1,400x1,050 pixels, a higher resolution than the 1,280x1,024 you'd normally run on a 17-inch desktop CRT.

Also like a desktop, the WinBook J4 provides easy access to memory slots, one of which is empty (our test system came with a 512MB DDR memory module running at 333MHz). Internal Wi-Fi networking comes standard, leaving the single Type II PC Card slot available for other add-ons. And with four fast USB 2.0 ports, you can add pretty much anything else you'd want at your desk, such as an external floppy drive, mouse, and keyboard.

Our test unit came stocked with a DVD/CD-RW drive in its single, swappable media bay. The bay can hold other drives, such as a less expensive DVD-ROM drive, but it unfortunately can't take a second battery. We also liked the feel of the keyboard, which operates quietly, with steady keys. Unfortunately, the spacebar is very short--despite all the room available--and the Insert key sits right next to it. Because the Insert key lives elsewhere on most keyboards, a stray tap could easily lead to unintended deletes. The left- and right-click mouse buttons are somewhat small horizontal strips, with a scroll button in between them.




Four USB 2.0 ports offer lots of options for attaching peripherals.


The Insert key is a little too close to the spacebar.


Dual latches, operated with one button, hold the WinBook J4's lid snugly closed, and its rubbery skin makes the notebook almost impossible to let slip out of your hands. Big, clear-sounding stereo speakers wrap around from below the keyboard to the notebook's front edge, where they're exposed when the lid is closed. A row of buttons on the front edge let you play music on the CD player even when the notebook is powered off.

The wraparound speakers are set so far apart on the J4 that they actually seem to pump out in stereo. They're neither brassy nor bass-heavy, but they do especially well on speech and sound good enough for playing music.


The big news for the latest version of the WinBook J4 is its 3.06GHz desktop Pentium 4. With the processor, the J4 turned in impressive performance scores.



CD-control buttons on the front edge let you play CDs with the system off.


The left- and right-click mouse buttons are somewhat small.


An 8X/32X/24X/10X combo DVD/CD-RW drive occupied our test unit's media bay, and its 5,400rpm 40GB hard drive is plenty big and fast. But if you need additional storage, you can order a beefed-up WinBook J4 with a 60GB drive and a DVD-R/RW drive in the bay for $300 more. An ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics controller with 64MB of its own memory delivers scorching frame rates on 3D benchmarks, which translates into fast gameplay, as well as movies with smooth motion and a realistic look. On an external monitor, the graphics controller supports 1,920x1,440 resolution in full color at 85Hz.

WinBook also equips the J4 with 10/100 Ethernet; a 56K modem; and S-Video, FireWire, and infrared ports. The only software other than Windows XP Pro is InterVideo's WinDVD. That no-frills approach is fine for businesses that install their own software packages, but home users would benefit from a few productivity or entertainment applications.


SysMark2002
The WinBook J4 posted the highest SysMark2002 score we've seen so far. The 3.06GHz Pentium 4 WinBook J4 creamed two fast (but lesser-configured) systems, the Acer TravelMate 420, with its 2.4GHz Pentium 4, and the Toshiba Satellite 5205-S503, with a 1.9GHz Pentium 4. The WinBook J4 was also helped by a hefty 512MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive that spins at 5,400rpm.

Maximum application performance test
Longer bars indicate better performance
BAPCo SysMark2002 rating   
SysMark2002 Internet content creation   
SysMark2002 office productivity   
WinBook J4
239 
347 
164 
Acer TravelMate 420
201 
294 
138 
Toshiba Satellite 5205-S503
182 
257 
129 
 
To measure maximum notebook application performance, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's SysMark2002, an industry-standard benchmark. Using off-the-shelf applications, SysMark measures a desktop's performance using office-productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office and McAfee VirusScan) and Internet-content-creation applications (such as Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Dreamweaver).

3D graphics performance
The WinBook J4 continued its domination in 3DMark2001, also posting the highest notebook score so far. In addition to its 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processor, the WinBook J4 includes an impressive ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics controller with 64MB of memory, which was instrumental in the notebook placing so well.

3D graphics performance test
Longer bars indicate better performance
WinBook J4
6,965 
Acer TravelMate 420
5,375 
Toshiba Satellite 5205-S503
3,959 
 
To measure 3D graphics performance, CNET Labs uses Futuremark's 3DMark2001 SE. We use 3DMark to measure desktop replacement notebook performance with the DirectX 8.1 interface at the 32-bit color setting at a resolution of 1,024x768.

Find out more about how we test notebook systems.


System configurations:

Acer TravelMate 420
Windows XP Pro 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; Toshiba MK 4018GAP 40GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite 5205-S503
Windows XP Home; 1.9GHz Intel Pentium 4M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 460 Go 32MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

WinBook J4
Windows XP Pro; 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm


Unfortunately, the WinBook J4's screaming speed seems to have affected its battery life. The J4 finished last in this roundup, conking out five minutes shy of two hours. With its 14.8V, 5,880mAh cell, the WinBook J4 shouldn't give out so quickly, but the fact that it houses a power-hungry 3.06GHz Pentium 4 significantly hinders its longevity. The CPU simply draws too much power. But battery life may improve down the road; the shipping unit of the WinBook J4 will have an upgraded unit, the company says.

MobileMark2002 battery-life test
Time is measured in minutes; longer bars indicate better performance
Toshiba Satellite 5205-S503
200 
Acer TravelMate 420
131 
WinBook J4
115 
 
To measure mobile application performance and battery life, CNET Labs uses BAPCo's MobileMark2002. MobileMark measures both applications 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).

System configurations:

Acer TravelMate 420
Windows XP Pro 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4; 256MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 32MB; Toshiba MK 4018GAP 40GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite 5205-S503
Windows XP Home; 1.9GHz Intel Pentium 4M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 460 Go 32MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

WinBook J4
Windows XP Pro; 3.06GHz Intel Pentium 4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 64MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm


WinBook provides the same support for the J4 as we're used to with its other notebooks: a year-long warranty and lifetime toll-free telephone support, available 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays (ET). On Sundays, you're on your own. The company offers several warranty upgrades; the most comprehensive is the $179 Platinum Shield, which covers three years of free pickup and delivery with a 48-hour turnaround.

WinBook also runs a Web site with extensive tech-support information, a specialized section on the J4, troubleshooting help, and e-mail access to technicians. However, the site lacks Web-enabled diagnostic software, which is increasingly the norm.

WinBook's excellent printed manual covers all J4 configurations, so it's not a precise match for this model. Nonetheless, it provides useful coverage for managing power, setting up the BIOS, installing memory, and other tasks for newcomers as well as old hands.

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Where to Buy

WinBook J4 (3.06GHz)

Part Number: CNETWINBOOKJ4732 Released: Feb 3, 2003
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Feb 3, 2003
  • Color Black
  • Weight 8.3 lbs
  • Installed Size 512 MB