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November 1996 Reviews TOC

11/96 Reviews SYS: Vektron OneBook

Feature Laden, Value Priced

By David Gabel

When you need a notebook computer that provides everything, but you can't pony up lots of cash, consider the Vektron OneBook.

One of these little beauties appeared in my office about a month ago, and it's been with me ever since. Why? Well, try this: 40MB of RAM (8MB of RAM is standard). It's so fast, it makes opening Word, always a patience-trying experience, almost a pleasure-especially since it's coupled with 256KB of level 2 cache.

Those 40MB along with the 133MHz Pentium processor really make this notebook fly. It's speedier than the 133MHz desktop system in my office, and opens and closes files and applications faster. Its low-level benchmarks belie that statement a bit, however. Its 225MIPS CPU score on our Wintune 95 benchmark is good, but certainly not spectacular. In fact, it's 8.5 percent slower than the Dell Latitude LMP-133ST reviewed in our October issue. The video is fine, at 5.6Mpixels per second, but not as good as the Dell's 9.67 score, and the uncached performance of the 1.3GB hard drive, 1.7MB per second, is also acceptable but not top-of-the-line.

But its price isn't top-of-the-line either. All this costs only $2,915, and that price includes the 11.3-inch active-matrix screen, plus floppy and CD-ROM drives.

The notebook comes with very little installed software: Windows 95 and software for the TEAC CD-ROM drive. But all the drivers you need are included on floppy disks, and a CD-ROM bundle contains Microsoft home-oriented titles. There is no bundled office suite except for Microsoft Works, which may be all you need.

Our Word benchmark executed in an average time of 32 seconds, while the Excel test took 26 seconds; both scores are respectable, but they show the results of having a slower disk score and video score compared with other machines.

The notebook has an 86-key keyboard and includes Windows function keys located on the same row as the spacebar. Key travel is a bit short. The tactile feedback is fine.

Below the keyboard, in the middle of the comfortable palm rest, you'll find a trackpad. Cursor control was precise and smooth, and the tap and double-tap actions worked as expected. I did have one problem: If you're a lazy typist, like I am, you'll find your thumb straying over the pad; if your thumb taps the pad, your cursor will go astray.

Speakers are located at the top of the keyboard. Sound quality was adequate. The hinge for the display contains an LCD with status information, and you can see the LCD when the lid is closed. The active-matrix display itself, 800x600 native size, is crisp, clear and easy to see from quite a wide angle.

The notebook's back has serial, parallel, joystick and monitor ports, as well as a port to connect into a docking station. On the left you'll find microphone and speaker jacks, an infrared port and a TV-out port. That's where the PCMCIA slots (one Type III, two Type II) and an external mouse/keyboard port are located. The floppy drive is in the front of the unit, the CD-ROM on the right side.

This machine isn't perfect. Other than lackluster performance, the OneBook uses a nickel metal hydride battery, which will give you no more than two hours' use on standby, and certainly less in active use. The company says a lithium ion battery will be available this month.

The notebook is big and heavy, too, at 7.82 pounds and 2.25 by 11.75 by 9 inches. But I like it. It works well, the screen is easy to read and it has useful components. And the price! If you're short of funds and need a notebook, look this one over.

-- Info File --
Vektron OneBook
Pros: Features; components
Cons: NiMH battery; performance; weight
Platforms: 3x, 95
Vektron International
800-660-0312, 214-606-0280
WinMag Box Score 3.0

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