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ViewSonic VNB101 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 300
inc VAT

A smart, well-built netbook with a great screen and comfortable keyboard. It's just a shame that its battery life isn't longer.

Specifications

10.2 in 1,024×600 display, 1.1kg, 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, 1.00GB RAM, 160GB disk, Windows XP Home Edition

Tech Depot

It would be easy to dismiss ViewSonic’s VNB101 as just another netbook. There’s little in the specification that stands out, with the usual 1.6GHz Atom N280 processor, 1GB of RAM, 160GB hard disk, Windows XP Home Edition and 10.2in screen.

The difference between this netbook and the plethora of similar models is its build quality. While there are a lot of cheap-looking netbooks out there, the NB101 looks more expensive. The case feels incredibly firm and there’s no flex in the screen.

Its looks are helped by the nicely sculptured case and glossy paint finish (it comes in red, black and a kind of bronze colour). These immediately set this netbook apart from most models.

Flip open the lid and the impression of quality continues. Although the screen measures 10.2in, it has a wide surround, and the lid is just over 12in diagonally. This makes the display look small, but the extra room allows for a decent-size keyboard.

The keys are all fractionally smaller than you’d expect on a standard laptop, but nothing to complain about. Touch typing was incredibly easy, particularly as the keys feel nice and firm with no flex and provide plenty of feedback.

One niggle we often have with netbooks is a small touchpad and buttons that are hard to reach. This isn’t a problem with the VNB101, as the touchpad is the same size as you’d expect to find on a regular laptop. It’s responsive and easy to use as a result, and it supports multi-touch gestures, so you can zoom into a web page by pinching your fingers together, for example.

The screen has an LED backlight, which requires less power than a traditional CCFL-lit display. It’s evenly lit and bright too. Its glossy finish helps improve contrast, although it can suffer from reflections. We didn’t find this a problem under office lighting, but outside it will be harder to read than a matte screen.

There are only two USB2 ports, so you’ll need to use a USB hub at home if you have lots of devices to plug in. There’s also an SDHC memory card slot.

All-in-all, the VBN101 feels like a superior netbook, so it’s a shame that the battery life is a paltry two hours 44 minutes. This limits the netbook’s usefulness on the move, although it’s enough for use around the home. Its poor showing is due to a combination of unusually high idle power consumption and a smallish 3,600mAh battery; the company’s previous VNB100 had a larger 4,600mAh battery.

That said, the VNB101 is still a decent netbook, but if you spend a lot of time away from the power supply, MSI’s similarly-priced Wind U100 has almost two hours more battery life.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Processor Intel Atom N280
Processor clock speed 1.66GHz
Memory 1.00GB
Memory slots 1
Memory slots free 0
Maximum memory 2GB
Size 25x265x185mm
Weight 1.1kg
Sound Realtek High Definition Audio
Pointing device touchpad
Power consumption standby 0W
Power consumption idle 26W
Power consumption active 31W

Display

Viewable size 10.2 in
Native resolution 1,024×600
Graphics Processor Intel 945 Express
Graphics/video ports VGA
Graphics Memory 128MB

Storage

Total storage capacity 160GB
Optical drive model none
Optical drive type N/A

Ports and Expansion

USB ports 2
Bluetooth yes
Wired network ports 1x 10/100
Wireless networking support 802.11a/b/g
PC Card slots 0
Modem No
Supported memory cards SDHC, MMC
Other ports none

Miscellaneous

Carrying case No
Operating system Windows XP Home Edition
Software included none
Optional extras none

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £300
Details www.viewsoniceurope.com

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