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WinBook X2

WHAT'S HOT: WinBook's latest aluminum-alloy thin-and-light weighs just 5.3 pounds, a tenth of a pound heavier than its predecessor, the X1. It also adds an S-Video port and a 30GB hard drive. The $2399 price includes a built-in DVD-ROM/CD-RW combination drive and Intel's 1.2-GHz/800-MHz SpeedStep Pentium III-M CPU. The X2 is the first notebook we've tested using this processor, but it posted a PC WorldBench score of 100, which is the fastest score of any notebook running Windows XP Home that we've seen so far.

WHAT'S NOT: Some of the drawbacks we've noticed in previous X series notebooks remain. You still have to shell out $99 extra for a floppy drive, a USB device. And like its predecessor, the X2 lacks the convenience of a modular bay. Competing thin-and-light notebook makers IBM, Acer, and Compaq sell notebooks that weigh about the same as the X2 but have modular bays, which let you swap in other devices as needed, such as a second battery. Like the X1, the X2 is a bit of a challenge to upgrade: To reach memory slots or the hard drive, you must remove a dozen screws and the entire base of the notebook. Finally, WinBook's support policies continue to fall behind the pack, with only 13 hours of telephone support on weekdays and 8 hours on Saturdays.

WHAT ELSE: The X2 includes all standard notebook connections, most of them tucked neatly on the back. Only the single PC Card slot and one of the two USB ports sit on the left side. The X2's near-full-size, light-gray keyboard is easy to type on, if a little shallow feeling (keys depress 2.7mm instead of the standard 3mm), and it includes two useful shortcut buttons. WinBook sells a $99 USB port replicator that duplicates everything on the X2 but the network connection.

The X2 pulled down solid performance in our battery tests: It lasted 5 minutes shy of 3 hours, an average duration for a laptop.

UPSHOT: With the X2, WinBook adds another weapon to its competitive arsenal. Featurewise, though, the X2 falls short--other vendors sell notebooks that weigh about the same but come with 14.1-inch screens and built-in wireless capabilities. On the other hand, the X2 is the thinnest and lightest of the bunch and far cheaper than some, making it a good small laptop for frequent fliers who need to get mainstream work done on the road. By Carla Thornton

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