WinBook J4 packs a desktop-full of power

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Box Score

The WinBook J4, one of the first notebooks with a Pentium 4 processor, packs plenty of power in a desktop replacement format.

Carlos A. Soto

Speed, performance, capacity make it a star among notebooks

No wonder the 2.39-GHz WinBook J4 desktop replacement is the flagship of WinBook Computer Corp.'s notebook PC line.

With a Pentium 4 processor, 512M of RAM and a 40G hard drive, the WinBook J4 performed better than any other notebook reviewed to date in the GCN Lab. On our Alterion benchmark suite, it scored as high'4,878.1 on average'as some of the fastest desktop systems we've tested.

The J4 would even be powerful enough to act as a file-and-print server on a small network, which is pretty impressive for a notebook. It shouldn't be pigeonholed for standard notebook tasks.

There was 64M of dedicated video memory in the ATI Radeon 7500 graphics adapter, plus a CD-rewritable/DVD combo drive and IEEE 802.11b wireless networking capability.

Easy control

Best of all, the four Universal Serial Bus ports were located on the side, so the J4 could get away with only one CardBus controller. By the time you read this, the ports will be USB 2.0, but the test unit had the slower USB 1.1.

One thing I disliked was the light-gray keyboard with white characters. Key markings were difficult to see even in good light.

A second design flaw was a low-end Intel Corp. sound card that emitted a constant buzz. And I would prefer to see the headphone jack moved from its inconvenient location in back. The J4's substantial 13- by 11- by 1.8-inch frame and nearly nine-pound weight made this small detail a big deal. It reminded me of older PCs whose USB ports were all out of reach.

But the WinBook's pluses well outweighed the minuses. For example, it could play and eject CDs without being booted.

The speakers were above average, and there was a choice of Microsoft Windows XP operating systems.

WinBook is one of the first vendors to come out with a fast Pentium 4 notebook. I look forward to seeing how it does against competitors in next year's notebook roundup.

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