WinBook W series review: WinBook W series

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The Good Wide-screen display; DVD-RW drive; Apple iBook-like styling; good battery life.

The Bad Weak speakers; high-end version is pricey.

The Bottom Line The WinBook W series offers Apple-like style, but it can't quite match the best thin-and-lights.

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7.3 Overall

At first glance it's easy to mistake the thin-and-light WinBook W-series laptop for an Apple creation; the smooth, silver lines, the 15.2-inch wide-screen display, the minimalist adornments, and the white keyboard all scream iBook. But the similarities end there. The WinBook W series features Microsoft's Windows XP Pro operating system and Intel's Pentium M processor. The 1.6GHz Pentium M model we evaluated didn't beat similarly configured laptops in battery life or performance, but it came very close. Overall, we like this laptop--one of WinBook's best--but if you insist on the fastest thin-and-light available, get the Acer TravelMate 803LCi or the IBM ThinkPad T41 instead.

The WinBook W-series laptop measures 1.2 by 13.6 by 10.2 inches. With the AC adapter included, it travels at 7.1 pounds, which is an average size and weight for a thin-and-light. We enjoyed the snappy feel of the keyboard and the smooth response of the two mouse buttons (thankfully, WinBook doesn't imitate Apple's one-button mouse). The laptop also runs cool to the touch, so it won't fry your palms or your lap.

The WinBook W series consists of two models: the top-shelf, $1,999 W160, which we tested, and the slightly less robust W140, which sells for $1,599. Both feature excellent specs for thin-and-lights, including 512MB of memory, the aforementioned 15.2-inch display, and an Nvidia GeForce Go FX 5200 graphics processing unit (GPU) with 64MB of dedicated video memory. The WinBook W140 has a slower 1.4GHz Pentium M CPU and a less-capacious 40GB hard drive, while the WinBook W160 offers a 1.6GHz CPU and a 60GB drive.

Both models share the same array of ports: audio jacks on the front edge; a PC Card slot and an infrared port on the right side; and three USB 2.0 ports, a mini-FireWire jack, a parallel port, a VGA port, an S-Video output, a 10/100 Ethernet jack, and a V.92 modem jack on the back. Unfortunately, both models also serve up weak sound. The two speakers mounted beneath the screen seemed loud enough for warning beeps, but even at full blast they were barely adequate for a movie in a quiet room.

WinBook backs the W-series laptops with a standard one-year warranty. It also offers supplementary plans, including one for $179 that provides three years of coverage and free FedEx pickup and delivery. WinBook makes toll-free telephone support available during the warranty period, but only Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

Mobile application performance  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 performance rating  

Battery life  (Longer bars indicate longer battery life)
BAPCo MobileMark 2002 battery life in minutes  

System configurations:

HP Pavilion nc8000
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 64MB; Toshiba MK4019GAX 40GB 5,400rpm

IBM ThinkPad T41
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 32MB; IBM Travelstar 40GN 40GB 5,400rpm

WinBook W160
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX Go5200 64MB; Fujitsu MHT2060AT 60GB 4,200rpm

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