WinBook W360 review: WinBook W360

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The Good Thin case; low price; three-in-one flash-card reader; 802.11b/g wireless; bright 15.4-inch screen.

The Bad Short battery life; one mouse button for right and left clicks; limited tech-support hours.

The Bottom Line Small businesses and consumers will appreciate the WinBook W360's low price, but speed fiends should get the faster HP Compaq Business Notebook nc6000.

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7.3 Overall

WinBook has come a long way since its clunky gray laptops. The company's thin-and-light WinBook W360 sports a sleek silver case that houses cutting-edge components, such as Intel's second-generation 1.7GHz Pentium M processor (code-named Dothan), a 15.4-inch wide-screen display, and 802.11b/g wireless. The WinBook W360's hot parts come with a cool $1,999 price, which is one of the best deals for a 15.4-inch wide-screen laptop and is perfect for small businesses on a budget. But anyone dealing with speed-intensive graphics and extensive spreadsheets should pass on the WinBook W360 in favor of the slightly faster HP Compaq Business Notebook nc6000.

Among today's thin-and-lights, the WinBook W360's 6.4-pound case stands out as one of the lighter models. The 13.8-inch-wide, 1.3-inch-thick case allows for a bright, 15.4-inch (diagonal) screen, a big keyboard, and a no-nonsense touchpad. A single Apple-style mouse button, which performs both left and right clicks depending on the edge you press, resides below the touchpad. If you're used to two mouse buttons, it's hard to get used to just one button.

WinBook packs the W360's edges with ports and slots. The front edge features FireWire, &siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex_1&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Epcwebopedia%2Ecom%2FTERM%2FS%2FS%5FPDIF%2Ehtml">S/PDIF, and a handy three-in-one slot that reads MultiMedia, Secure Digital, and Memory Stick memory cards. The rear edge offers two USB 2.0 ports, while a third USB 2.0, S-Video out, and one PC Card slot lie on the left. The built-in DVD+R/+RW drive opens out of the right edge. The WinBook W360 also includes 802.11b/g wireless, which you'll have to manipulate via software controls, because the system lacks a handy hardware on/off switch.

The WinBook W360 is faster than many older Pentium M laptops, but it couldn't keep up with the latest models in CNET Labs' tests. Its second-generation 1.7GHz Pentium M, 512MB of fast 333MHz SDRAM, 64MB ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 graphics chip, and 80GB 5,400rpm hard drive couldn't beat the HP Compaq Business Notebook nc6000 or the Dell Latitude D800, but the WinBook did smoke the ZT Group ZTpro M1015. Alas, the WinBook W360's 3 hour, 50 minute score in our drain tests earned it the unfortunate distinction of having the lowest battery life among Dothan notebooks we've tested to date.

A small manufacturer such as WinBook can't afford to offer stellar service and support. But WinBook does the best it can with a standard one-year warranty on parts and labor, which you can extend up to three years with free return-to-depot shipping and screen-damage protection for $298. The toll-free phone support is unfortunately limited to Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. The sparse support Web site offers one bright spot: a user forum.

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

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

System configurations:

Acer TravelMate 8000
Windows XP Professional; 1.8GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 128MB; Hitachi 5K60 80GB 5,400rpm

Dell Latitude D800
Windows XP Professional; 2GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Nvidia GeForce FX Go5600 128MB; Hitachi 5K60 80GB 5,400rpm

HP Compaq Business Notebook nc6000
Windows XP Professional; 1.8GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 64MB; Toshiba MK6022GAX 60GB 5,400rpm

WinBook W360
Windows XP Professional; 1.7GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 64MB; Hitachi 5K60 80GB 5,400rpm

ZT Group ZTpro M1015
Windows XP Professional; 1.6GHz Intel Pentium M; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon 9600 64MB; Toshiba MK6021GAS 60GB 5,400rpm

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