A smart, well-built netbook with a great screen and comfortable keyboard. It's just a shame that its battery life isn't longer.
10.2 in 1,024×600 display, 1.1kg, 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, 1.00GB RAM, 160GB disk, Windows XP Home Edition
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.
|Intel Atom N280
|Processor clock speed
|Memory slots free
|Realtek High Definition Audio
|Power consumption standby
|Power consumption idle
|Power consumption active
|Intel 945 Express
|Total storage capacity
|Optical drive model
|Optical drive type
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports
|Wireless networking support
|PC Card slots
|Supported memory cards
|Windows XP Home Edition
|one year RTB