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-- by John M. Cummings
Every Hollywood actor dreams of back-to-back box-office hits. WinBook exhibits star quality with the introduction of the WinBook XP5 Pro, its replacement for the successful XP5 line of notebook computers. The WinBook XP5 Pro sets a new standard for features and performance in a sub-$2,000 system. It offers a 120MHz Intel Pentium processor, a 12.1-inch Super VGA dual-scan display, 16MB of EDO RAM, 256KB level 2 cache (rare at this price), a 1GB hard drive and an 8X CD-ROM drive.
The big, bright dual-scan screen (800x600) is easy to view even in daylight. It's a far better choice than a smaller active-matrix display, such as the 10.4-inch Super VGA screen Compaq chose for its Armada 1130T (see Reviews, April). There, text and icons were so tiny they caused eyestrain; on the WinBook XP5 Pro's 12.1-inch screen, they're almost as large as those on a 14-inch CRT. The slight loss in screen brightness is an acceptable trade-off.
The XP5 Pro weighs in at 5.98 pounds. Add about half a pound each for an optional floppy drive and the CD-ROM. It measures 2.5 by 11.25 by 8.98 inches, not the smallest or lightest notebook, but not likely to break your back, either.
On our Wintune benchmarks, the XP5 Pro averaged 222MIPS. It produced scores of 1.2MB-per-second uncached disk throughput and 1.4Mpixels-per-second video throughput. Times to execute our Word and Excel application macros averaged 39.67 and 21.67 seconds, respectively. Compare this to the 100MHz Toshiba Satellite Pro 420CDT (see Reviews, July 1996); it scored 176MIPS, 1.77MBps uncached disk throughput and 4.77Mpixels-per-second video throughput. The XP5 Pro is not exactly a barn burner, but it's also no slug, especially in this price range.
The XP5 Pro uses the low-power 2.9-volt mobile Pentium processor, which, combined with a 37-watt lithium ion battery, allows for greater battery life. Under normal use with power management disabled, we typically squeezed out 3 hours of battery life. The unit quick-charged in an average 1.5 hours while it was off or in Suspend mode. The modular bay accepts the 1.44MB floppy drive, the 8X CD-ROM or the optional second battery.
The XP5 Pro's full-function, 84-key keyboard has full-size keys, including Win95-specific keys.
It has 19.5mm key spacing and 3mm key travel. The Ctrl key is on the extreme bottom left, where you can easily reach it for Word or Excel keyboard shortcuts.
The keyboard was comfortable to use for extended periods. The integrated pointing stick is standard, and the optional dual-button touchpad is centered below the spacebar on the wrist rest (the devices work simultaneously)
Sound and communications capabilities are superb for a notebook of this size and price. The XP5 Pro comes standard with 16-bit, Sound Blaster-compatible stereo sound. The stereo speakers are located on the wrist rest. Unlike other WinBooks, the XP5 Pro has no standard modem, but a Creative Labs 28.8 PCMCIA modem is available for $99.
The WinBook XP5 Pro not only exceeds expectations for a notebook priced under $2,000, it raises our standards altogether. As recently as 18 months ago, we'd have expected to pay twice as much for a notebook this capable. It replaces the $2,499 Toshiba Satellite Pro 420CDT on our WinList, offering a faster CPU, a bigger screen, a faster CD-ROM and more RAM at a price that's 20 percent lower. Even John Travolta would be pleased to have this kind of star quality.