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Zune-inspired WinBooks on the way

Micro Center to release new, Vista-based WinBook laptops and PowerSpec desktops.

Putting Ohio State's poor showing last night in the BCS Championship game behind them, Ohio-based Micro Center had a few Vista desktop and laptop prototypes on display at CES. The big news on its PowerSpec desktop line is the addition of a Lian Li chassis for its high-end gaming PCs. The Lian Li chassis is an all-aluminum, tool-free unit that will be used on two highest-end models, the G450 and the G430. Lian Li makes some of the best PC enclosures around, and it should help the PowerSpec name garner some respect among gamers.

Likewise, Micro Center's WinBook laptop line will get refreshed when Vista is released. Borrowing from the Zune, two new WinBook laptops, the 15.4-inch GL and the 13.3-inch TL, will come draped in a glossy, brown chassis. Micro Center is dressing up its WinBook laptops as it leaves the budget market to focus on midrange and performance notebooks.

Micro Center is also stepping up its support, promising a 48-hour turnaround time for repairing your PowerSpec or WinBook machine. Disclaimer: The clock starts when Micro Center receives your busted PC, whether you ship it back or drop it off at a Micro Center store.

Micro Center is not sharing the specs and pricing of its new models until the machines are launched in conjunction with Vista's consumer release at the end of the month. Systems will be on store shelves in Micro Center stores and also available online at the Micro Center and WinBook Web sites.