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6/96 Reviews System: WinBook XP5/120MHz

Complete listing of June 1996 reviews

Ergo-tistical Performer

By Rich Castagna

It's a natural. If you're talking 120 MHz Pentium notebooks, you're talking performance. And the WinBook XP5 performs. A tiny fan nestled in the 2.1 by 11.7 by 8.7-inch case breathes fresh air over the processor, which clocked a cool 208MIPS on the WINDOWS Magazine Wintune tests.

Complementing the quick CPU and 256KB of level 2 cache, the video and hard disk notched equally rapid ratings. The video system painted crisp pictures with well-saturated colors on the 10.4-inch active-matrix display at an average rate of 6.43Mpixels per second aided by 1MB of VRAM. Data was shuttled to and from the 1.3-gigabyte Toshiba hard disk at an uncached clip of 2.33MB per second. The excellent video and the healthy disk speed contributed to the XP5's impressive turns with our Word 7.0 and Excel 7.0 macro tests. It powered through the Word macro in 22.33 seconds and made short shrift of the Excel macro in 18 seconds.

But speed is not the XP5's whole story. Comfort and convenience figured into the WinBook equation. For example, whatever cursor control camp you side with, WinBook has an option for you. You can get a trackball, a Lexmark pointing stick or an Alps touchpad. My unit had both a pointing stick and the Alps pad-it was like having a cursor du jour option, a big plus if you like to switch back and forth.

Controls and indicators are all handily placed, with the power switch built into the rounded display hinge and the suspend button similarly situated on the opposite side. A 2.5-inch LCD below the screen displays symbols for battery status and other system activities. On top of the case, a lightbulb-shaped cutout glows red when the AC adapter is connected.

The notebook's Lexmark keyboard has a nice touch, with gentle but yielding resistance and enough clickiness to know that you're typing. Some key positions seem a little awkward-when my pinkie darted in the backspace key's direction, it inadvertently hit the Page Down key. The right-side shift key and the Home and End keys are a bit small. These are minor keyboard quibbles to be sure, as all notebook keyboards have eccentricities that often become endearing traits as time goes by.

The XP5 hides its connectors-serial, parallel, external monitor and PS/2 ports-behind a door on the rear of the case, next to the docking station socket. The floppy disk drive is on the left, next to the PCMCIA slots that accommodate the usual array of two Type II cards or one Type III.

On the underside of the XP5's case, a large screw that you can turn with the edge of a dime secures the removable hard disk. Another screw-off plate allows access for RAM upgrades; the test unit had 16MB of RAM, but a module swap can up that to 32MB. The lithium ion battery is held in its bay by a sliding latch. Another small, pop-off hatch covers the optional 16-bit stereo audio card. Total traveling weight is a shade under 7 pounds, including the built-in 14.4Kbps modem.

If you need a CD drive, you'll have to get the docking station with its 4X CD drive ($399) or a third-party unit.

If you can steer clear of an integrated CD drive, the WinBook will get you where you're going with speed, comfort and a few bucks left in your wallet. At $3,499 ($3,199 for an 810MB hard disk model), the XP5 is sure to attract value-minded buyers.

Info File
WinBook XP5/120MHz
Pros: Performance; ergonomics
Cons: Keyboard lacks CD bay
WinBook Computer Corp.
800-468-3590, fax 800-448-0308
WinMag Box Score: 4.5
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