If there are two phrases that sum up what is most desirable in the notebook universe at present, they would be “ultra-slim” and “low voltage”, reflecting a fast-paced, eco-conscious business world where portability and battery longevity are paramount.
ViewSonic has only recently made forays into the portable computer market and the ViewBook Pro was clearly designed with topicality in mind, as its similarity to the MacBook Pro and Toshiba’s Portégé R600 range is apparent. As expected, it’s incredibly thin, measuring just 322 x 17 x 239mm, weighs a featherlight 1.6kg and comes in cool shades of black or silver.
Despite its size, the chassis is made of a tough aluminium-magnesium alloy that feels both sturdy and comfortable to the touch. One added advantage is the built-in View Sensor which not only protects the machine by locking the read/write mechanism in the hard drive when it detects the computer is falling, but also acts as theft protection, sounding an alarm if it’s moved.
The display is a 13.3-inch TFT, LED backlit, 16:10 widescreen (unlike the usual 16:9) with 1280 x 800 resolution which is sufficiently bright for all daily usage. The keyboard is full size, complete with arrow keys and F1-F12. However, the keys feel very spongy under your fingers – less floating than seasick – which doesn’t inspire confidence for long-term use. ViewSonic trumpets the touchpad as multi-touch capable and easy to use, but in reality it’s one of the least responsive we’ve experienced; we had to press quite hard to complete the required movements.
On the other hand, the ViewBook Pro has the option of an in-built Super Multi Drive which many of its ultra-slim rivals don’t, plus the excellent capability to swap that out easily for an additional battery; ideal for long journeys. Other features include WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1, VGA, HDMI, a meagre two USB ports, a handy ExpressCard/34 slot and a 7-in-1 card reader.
Predictably, this notebook eschews an Atom processor for an Intel Ultra Low Voltage Core 2 Duo SU7300 CPU running at 1.3GHz, which is good enough to handle music, presentations and basic graphics packages but not enough for serious gaming.
There’s plenty of storage, in the form of a 320GB hard drive, but it would probably pay to keep the spare battery to hand at all times; with fairly light usage (Internet, MP3 playing, a couple of Word documents) we managed only three and a half hours of use before the battery died.
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