Long a maker of low-price laptops without much style, WinBook turns over a new leaf with its ultraportable X610. The X610 is light and attractive, and it's powerful enough to give more expensive machines from Dell and Lenovo a run for their money. Still, it's slightly heavier than its competitors and can't muster more than two hours of battery life--clearly not enough if you're looking for the ultimate in mobile computing. But at $1,399, the WinBook X610 is a good choice for those on a tight budget who want a machine that's highly portable, though not necessarily long-lasting away from the socket.
For those used to the WinBook's frumpy, functional designs, the X610's black-and-charcoal case is like a breath of fresh air. Weighing 3.4 pounds and measuring 10.8 inches wide, 9.2 inches deep, and 1.3 inches thick, the WinBook is slightly larger and heaver than the Dell Latitude X1 and similar in size to the ThinkPad X41; it's worth noting that like the Sony VAIO VGN-TX670P, the WinBook manages to squeeze an optical drive into its compact case, while the Dell and ThinkPad models rely on external drives. With its three-prong AC adapter, the WinBook hits the road at 4.2 pounds.
As with most ultraportables, the WinBook X610's 12.1-inch standard-aspect XGA display is just big enough to accommodate two side-by-side application windows. (By contrast, the Dell Latitude X1's 12.1-inch WXGA screen can more comfortably accommodate two or three open windows.) The compact X610 has room for an adequate keyboard, although the Ctrl, arrow, and Shift keys are uncomfortably small. The system's amply sized touch pad, made of the same material as the surrounding case, offers a bit too much resistance and lacks a scrolling feature like the one on the ThinkPad X41. Above the keyboard is a handy Wi-Fi on/off switch, and below the keyboard are battery and system-status LEDs that are visible even when the cover is closed.
The WinBook X610 includes an impressive assortment of ports and connections, including headphone and microphone jacks, four-pin FireWire, VGA, and three USB 2.0 ports, along with modem, Ethernet (though not the Gigabit Ethernet many corporate buyers demand), and 802.11a/b/g. There's a Type II PC Card slot--though the X610 lacks a slot for the latest ExpressCards--as well as a double-layer DVD burner and a three-in-one flash-card reader that supports Memory Stick, Secure Digital, and MultiMediaCard formats. Security-conscious businesses should note that the WinBook X610 lacks both a fingerprint reader and a Trusted Platform Module. Along with Windows XP Pro, the X610's minimal software package includes only disc viewing and burning apps.