WinBook Unleashes Hyperthreading Heavyweight

Step aside, Centrino. Continuing the trend toward more powerful notebooks, sometimes at the expense of battery life, WinBook's J4 performs more like a desktop than a laptop. Does this eight-pound powerhouse deliver the goods?

Notebook buyers who can live with 1 to 2 hours of battery life are snapping up portables built around Intels desktop PC processors (as opposed to Intels mobile CPUs); this yields fine performance and saves up to $250 in the bargain. One of the first units with the desktop 3.06-GHz Pentium 4 (with HyperThreading) is the WinBook J4 732 3.06 ($3,136 direct).

At 8.3 pounds (9.4 with the AC adapter, which you wont want to go far without), the J4 is hefty. But it runs away from notebook competitors and keeps pace with all but the fastest desktop PCs, scoring 26.6 on our Business Winstone suite and an excellent 39.7 on our Multimedia Content Creation Winstone test.

The J4 managed 1 hour 58 minutes on our BatteryMark test; acceptable considering the reduced battery life expectations for this class of machine. Under battery power, the J4 scales back to 2.3 GHz and to 1.5 GHz when the battery charge falls below 15 percent.

In addition to the desktop CPU, other top-notch components aid performance. Theres 512MB of 333-MHz DDR SDRAM, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9000 graphics chipset with 64MB of memory, DirectX 8.1 support, and a 15-inch display with a resolution of 1,400-by-1,050. To edit videos, you may want to step up to a 60GB hard drive and a DVD-RW drive for $3,496 (direct). (Note that the CD-burning speed drops with the DVD-RW drive, however, from 24X to 16X.)

Other nice touches include four USB 2.0 jacks, a single FireWire jack, TV out (S-Video), SP/DIF digital audio output, and front-panel audio control buttons. The J4 continues the trend toward dropping from dual to single PC Card slots.

Equipped with no software other than Microsoft Windows XP Professional, the system fared just okay on our multimedia ratings, which score a system both on its hardware prowess and bundled software apps. The only A/V software is XP Pros Windows Media Player and the lame Windows MovieMaker 1.1. That said, the J4 delivers a very capable platform from which to build an excellent gaming or multimedia workhorse. If youre in the market for a fast portable PC, the WinBook J4 732 30.6 is definitely worth consideration.