ViewSonic ViewBook Pro review
Good-looks and sturdy build quality are undermined by a<br>
fundamental problem with the trackpad
Review Date: 24 Nov 2009
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £590 (£679 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
We've already seen the HP Envy 15 take inspiration from Apple, but it seems there's always room for more at the Cupertino school of design. Now, it's the turn of the ViewSonic ViewBook Pro (part code: VNB131) to doff its cap to the MacBook blueprint we all know so well.
The photographs of the ViewBook Pro on the box, for instance, are near-identical to those of Apple's laptops. The internal packaging is a tribute too. And, once you've extracted it from that packaging, you'll find familiar touches abound around the sturdy chassis: the logo is in the same place and printed in a similar font; the wristrest is free of stickers; and even the underside of the machine is smooth and uncluttered.
Spend more time with the ViewBook, though, and its own strengths come to the fore. It's a handsome machine for starters: its matte-black finish, tapered front edge and minimal design make it look more attractive than many laptops at twice the price. And that uncluttered look is offset by the chrome hinges and power button, which are small enough to look understated rather than garish.
The ViewBook is a svelte machine, too, with a 28mm-thick body and 1.6kg weight, but critically it doesn't feel flimsy. The base feels firm, the wristrest sturdy, and there's plenty of protection for the ViewBook's 13.3in screen. Despite a worryingly thin 5mm profile, the lid is stiff and solid: the desktop didn't distort when we flexed and prodded it. The marriage of strong frame and that light weight means we'd have few qualms about slinging the ViewBook in a bag on a day-to-day basis.
You can reduce that weight even further by pulling out the optical drive and replacing it with a plastic blanker, which is supplied in the box. This drops the machine's weight by 136g - not much you may think, but every little helps if you're going to be lugging a laptop around all day.
The keyboard is good, and matches the rest of the unit for quality, with a solid base, wide and responsive keys, and a sensible layout. Battery life is fair too, with the ViewBook's 4,400mAh power pack lasting for five hours in our light-use test and just over half that length of time in our heavy-use benchmark.
And you can boost that life by 50% by slipping the optional extra battery into the optical drive bay. It's a decent result that's 30 minutes better than the best-in-class Samsung Q320, but bear in mind that the Samsung is a far quicker (albeit heavier) machine.
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