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WinBook X2 review: WinBook X2

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The Good Light; sturdy case; well equipped.

The Bad Slow; few configuration options.

The Bottom Line WinBook's smallish X2 delivers style and features for basic computing, but its lack of power and options hold it back.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

6.5 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Battery 6
  • Support 6

Review Sections

WinBook's X2 rolls off the assembly line in only one configuration: a subtly purplish aluminum shell that houses a 13.3-inch LCD, a combo DVD/CD-RW drive, and a Pentium III-M processor. WinBook's idea is to offer a one-size-fits-all, ready-to-ship notebook for people who need a simple, portable computer and don't want to delve into the details. While we find the WinBook X2 attractive, convenient, and enjoyable to use, its test scores don't measure up to those of most notebooks on the market today and even lag behind similarly equipped notebooks from six months ago. For the same $1,500 price tag, the LifeBook S series is a better option. The WinBook X2's frosty, tinted aluminum shell stands only 1.25 inches thick, 12 inches wide, and 9.5 inches deep--big enough to make room for a 13.3-inch (diagonal) LCD but still comfortable to carry, especially at a middleweight 5.3 pounds (6.2 with AC power adapter). When open, the WinBook X2 offers a responsive keyboard with large but slightly wobbly keys.

The stereo speakers above the keyboard surprised us with their impressive volume and brassy sound. Plus, a scroll button under the touchpad makes quick work of long Web pages and other documents.

Touchpad, along with mouse and scroll buttons. PC Card slot and USB port.

Unfortunately, the WinBook X2's design discourages customization and do-it-yourselfers. For example, it has 128MB of memory on the system board and comes with a 128MB module in the single slot. WinBook sells a 256MB module ($159) that upgrades the WinBook X2 to 384MB or a 512MB module ($199) that upgrades the total to 640MB, but the company doesn't install the replacement module; that's up to you. It's unlikely you'd discard the 128MB module you'll have already paid for so that you can add memory; as a further disincentive, the WinBook X2 case doesn't have a door for easy access to the memory slot or the hard drive. You can, however, add 802.11b (Wi-Fi) fast wireless network access by popping a card ($79) into the Type II PC Card slot.
The WinBook X2 offers a good mix of features for everyday computing. Its LCD's default resolution is 1,024x768 pixels, the right fit for a 13.3-inch screen. The screen lights up evenly and has a clean, white background; its text looks particularly sharp, although colors appear somewhat undersaturated on the integrated SIS 630/730 graphics controller, which shares system memory. The screen has a very narrow range of brightness settings, however, so you don't have much latitude to extend the system's middling battery life.

The notebook's edges include most key communication features, including an infrared port, an Ethernet jack, a modem, S-Video, and two USB 1.1 ports. To connect with Wi-Fi, you'll have to buy a card for the PC Card slot, however.

The WinBook's combo drive. The ports and the connectors on the back.

The WinBook X2 also comes with a 24X/8X/8X/4X combination CD-RW/DVD drive for watching movies and backing up your data.

The engine under the hood is a 1.13GHz Intel Pentium III-M processor. Rather than provide a restore CD, WinBook embeds a recovery volume on the 30GB hard drive; you can use it to replace flaky drivers and Windows files, zap everything except your data files, or reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows XP Pro. That allows you to recover from minor system problems conveniently and without hauling CDs along on the road, but if the hard disk itself fails, your copy of Windows goes with it. The WinBook X2 has no other software.
The WinBook X2's lackluster video adapter holds back its performance. In fact, their video adapters hurt both the WinBook X2, with a 1.13GHz Pentium III-M, and the Toshiba Portégé 4010, with a 933MHz Pentium III-M. By borrowing system RAM and using it as video RAM, the adapters degrade performance. The Fujitsu LifeBook S series beats both competitors, but it does have a faster 1.2GHz Pentium III-M processor.

Mobile application performance
Longer bars indicate faster performance
Fujitsu LifeBook S series
112 
WinBook X2
83 
Toshiba Portégé 4010
57 

Find out more about how we test notebook systems.

System configurations:

Fujitsu Lifebook S series
Windows XP Professional; 1.2GHz Pentium 3M; 248MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82830 graphics controller-0 32MB; Toshiba MK4018GAP 40GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Portégé 4010
Windows XP Professional; 933MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 240MB SDRAM 100MHz; Trident Video Accelerator CyberBlade X 16MB (shared); IBM Travlestar 30GN 30GB 4,200rpm

WinBook X2
Windows XP Professional; 1.13GHz Intel Pentium III-M; 240MB SDRAM 133MHz; SiS 630/730 16MB (shared); IBM Travelstar 30GN 30GB 4,200rpm
The WinBook X2 gets decent battery life with its 14.8V, 3,100mAh battery, but it failed to wow us. Compared to the Fujitsu LifeBook S series and its 10.8V, 4,000mAh battery, the WinBook X2 comes up way short.

MobileMark2002 battery-life test
Time is measured in minutes; longer bars indicate better performance
Toshiba Portégé 4010
219 
Fujitsu LifeBook S series
165 
WinBook X2
158 

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:

Fujitsu Lifebook S series
Windows XP Professional; 1.2GHz Pentium 3M; 248MB SDRAM 133MHz; Intel 82830 graphics controller-0 32MB; Toshiba MK4018GAP 40GB 4,200rpm

Toshiba Portégé 4010
Windows XP Professional; 933MHz Intel Pentium III-M; 240MB SDRAM 100MHz; Trident Video Accelerator CyberBlade X 16MB (shared); IBM Travlestar 30GN 30GB 4,200rpm

WinBook X2
Windows XP Professional; 1.13GHz Intel Pentium III-M; 240MB SDRAM 133MHz; SiS 630/730 16MB (shared); IBM Travelstar 30GN 30GB 4,200rpm
WinBook provides an average level of support for the X2. The warranty and and toll-free telephone support, available 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays ET, last for one year. For $179, you can extend the plan to three years with free pick-up and delivery and 48-hour turnaround. The company's documentation includes 1 page on unpacking the system, a short pamphlet of FAQs for beginning users, and a 130-page manual that covers all the system's features and more-advanced topics such as troubleshooting and the BIOS.

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