Good ideas do not guarantee a good subnotebook

Good ideas do not guarantee a good subnotebook

The MetroBook SLT subnotebook is

By Michael Cheek

Special to GCN

Size matters, and when it comes to mobile computers, smaller is better. But small size does not make the MetroBook SLT a winner.

The ideas behind it deserve credit, however. Maker MetroBook Computer Co. aimed for a hybrid between a lightweight handheld running Microsoft Windows CE and a more powerful portable running Windows 98.

The 8.4-inch display is the SLT's main drawback. It serves as a touch screen and the only input device, but the active-matrix display looks passive and dim because of the touch-screen layer. The display shows 800 by 600 pixels, adequate for most purposes.

Too touchy

In my tests, the touch screen was overly sensitive. The stylus, which tucks in front of the keyboard, never quite hit its mark. The included handwriting software could not recognize anything I wrote, and was difficult to boot.

Box Score''''
MetroBook SLT

233-MHz Pentium MMX


MetroBook Computer Co.;

Chantilly, Va.;

tel. 703-222-3300

Price: $1,800 GSA

+Good design ideas

'Dim display

'Cumbersome external floppy and CD-ROM drives


Features and configurationC-

Benchmark performanceC+

ZD's Business Winstone 99 10.2

About 2% better than a 233-MHz Pentium MMX

The overall grade comprises scores for three things: usability (60 percent), features and configuration (20 percent), and performance (20 percent). The lab used ZD's Winstone 99 Version 1.1. The baseline for 10.0 Winstone units is a 233-MHz Pentium MMX. For benchmark information, go to

At the sides of the display were 16 permanent icons: Game, Prog, Ctrl, PIM and so on.

They could be set to launch specific applications, but they did not lend an overall businesslike appearance.

A 56-Kbps modem is integrated. But the PC Card slots, which should support one Type III or two Type II cards, did not work.

The SLT weighed in at 3 pounds, 5 ounces'pretty light but still heavier than the Latitude LT from Dell Computer Corp. [GCN, Jan. 25, Page 1].

The MetroBook SLT's external 3.5-inch floppy drive connects via a thick, 7.25-inch cable and a big plug so cumbersome that the drive cannot face in the same direction as the notebook.

The floppy drive unit has two Universal Serial Bus ports plus keyboard and mouse ports.

The serial, parallel and VGA ports are on the notebook itself.

An external CD-ROM drive, which costs extra and requires AC power, connects to a special port on the floppy drive.

The CD-ROM and floppy drives add another 2 pounds of carrying weight to the unit's total heft.

The battery lasted for about an hour on the GCN Lab's maximum drainage test.

For such a light unit, that is just adequate.
The system performed as expected, earning just slightly better benchmark scores than a 233-MHz Pentium MMX desktop PC.

Stay Connected

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.