MicronPC TransPort GX3

A fingerprint reader highlights this stylish desktop-replacement portable

WHAT'S HOT: Coolly styled in stippled blue plastic and metallic accents, the GX3 combines striking looks and extra security in the form of a chrome-framed fingerprint reader located in the palm rest. Like keyboards with a "deep" feel? The GX3's keys depress an incredible 6mm--twice as far as the notebook standard of 3mm. An 8X DVD-ROM drive you can swap out for an extra-cost Zip drive or second hard drive rounds out the highlights.

WHAT'S NOT: The downside to the GX3's bottomless keyboard is clatter. Even if you don't mind the tap-tap-tap, somebody nearby might.

WHAT ELSE: A midsize all-in-one, the GX3 stuffs a lot of features into a reasonably light 8-pound (including AC adapter and phone cord) case. All the standard connections are present, and extras include an S/PDIF port for surround-sound speakers and a FireWire port. You also get a TV-out port, but it's the lower-quality composite type (not the S-Video port found in many power notebooks), and the rubber plug that covers it isn't attached, so it will be easy to lose. The speakers, located in the bottom of the palm rest, aren't especially loud, but they sound fine.

The GX3's accessible design includes three dedicated shortcut buttons and a hard drive you can slide out of the right side. Text labels stamped on the bottom clearly identify most components, a rare nicety. MicronPC throws in three pieces of extra hardware: An Ethernet cable for the network jack, a USB mouse, and a splitter for the PS/2 port for connecting a mouse and keyboard simultaneously.

The GX3's performance is on par with other Pentium 4-M notebooks we've tested. It earned a PC WorldBench 4 score of 94 and lasted 2.5 hours on one battery charge.

Our TransPort included a solid starter package of software: Microsoft's Office XP Small Business Edition and Norton Antivirus 2002.

UPSHOT: Government buyers and others who need an extra layer of data security should consider the nicely-designed Transport GX3--it's one of the very few models we've seen with a built-in fingerprint reader. The only downside might be the slightly noisy keyboard and, if you travel frequently, the GX3's size and weight.

By Carla Thornton

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