WHAT'S HOT: Stocked with 256MB of RAM and Windows 2000, this Celeron-650-equipped notebook, part of WinBook's Z Series, did surprisingly well in the performance department. The Z1 finished our business-application tests with a PC WorldBench 2000 score of 157--one of the more impressive scores posted by candidates for our value chart.
Want to burn music or data CDs, listen to tunes, or watch a movie in your downtime? This notebook comes with a removable combination 6X DVD-ROM and 4X/4X/24X CD-RW drive. For longer battery life or a different storage option, you can slide the combo drive out of the laptop's front and swap in a supplemental lithium ion battery or a SuperDisk drive. You can also upgrade the fixed floppy drive on the side to a Zip 250 drive at time of purchase.
WHAT'S NOT: The 15-inch screen panel inelegantly overlaps the front when closed. A built-in network adapter is not an option, which means you'll have to use a PC Card adapter. And unlike competing vendors, most of which offer round-the-clock telephone support, WinBook runs its phone lines for only 13 hours each weekday and 7 hours each Saturday.
WHAT ELSE: A handsome if somewhat heavy laptop, this WinBook Z1 has the same basic case design as Enpower's ENP-325W2 notebooks. The combination drive and main battery pop out of the front via easy-to-slide locks. Icons stamped on the bottom clearly label the contents of all bays, including the modem compartment--useful hints that all notebooks should come with. Like its higher-end siblings in the WinBook stable, this Z1 is no multimedia wonder, and its sound quality is only so-so. However, it does include an S-Video out port that lets you use a TV as an external monitor. The quiet, comfortably deep-feeling keyboard includes mouse buttons that you can reprogram to launch applications. Accompanying this Z1 is WinBook's thick, ring-bound manual, which is nicely done except for the absence of an index.
UPSHOT: With a combination DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, a large screen, a big hard drive, and an option that lets you lengthen battery life by adding a second power pack, the $2400 WinBook Z1 is a good deal for small businesses.
WinBook Z1 650
PC WorldBench 2000 score of 157, Celeron-650 CPU, 256MB of RAM, 128KB L2 cache, Windows 2000, 15-inch active-matrix screen, ATI Rage M3 Mobility graphics chip with 16MB of SDRAM, 20GB hard drive, combination 6X DVD-ROM and 4X/4X/24X CD-RW drive, built-in V.90 modem, PC Card network adapter, touchpad pointing device, 8.5 pounds (including AC adapter and phone cord). Three-year parts and labor warranty; free unlimited toll-free technical support 13 hours on weekdays and 7 hours Saturday.
Street price: $2400
By Carla Thornton