Viewsonic VNB102 Netbook Hands-On: Parties Like its 2007


Feeling nostalgic for those original batch of netbooks? You know, dated design, small keyboards with misplaced keys, and short battery life? Then you’re in luck! Viewsonic, makers of LCD TVs, projectors, and other consumer electronics, released its first netbook, the VNB102 ViewBook, a mass of mediocrity that can be yours for just $399.

Like other 10-inch netbooks that came out last year, the VNB102 features an Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB, 5400-rpm hard drive. Like the Averatec HS-105 announced yesterday, this little guy runs Windows 7 Starter Edition (at least that’s from this year.) But one wonders why ViewSonic didn’t wait for the newer Atom N450 Pine Trail processor.

Read on for our hands-on impressions, plus preliminary test results and a gallery.

The barrel-shaped hinge on the VNB102 is reminiscent of those on ASUS original Eee PC 701 and Lenovo S10  from 2008 and before. Likewise, the keyboard is one of the smaller ones we’ve seen in the past year, and the shrunken right Shift key–out of place, too–reminded us of keyboards we’d rather forget, such as that on the original Lenovo S10. We like that there are two discrete mouse buttons, but they’re on the small side.

Ports are the typical three USB, VGA, headphone and mic, and Ethernet, as well as a 3-in-1 card reader.

The VNB102 performed about the same as every other netbook: its score of 841 in Geekbench was 8 points above average, and its 3DMark06 score of 139 was 20 points below average.

Endurance  is another matter: The 6-cell battery on the VNB102 lasted  just 4 hours and 46 minutes, about an hour and a half shorter than the netbook average. That runtime is half that of the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE-P. When even netbooks with Ion GPUs and larger screens offer comparable battery life you’ve got a problem.

Viewsonic is selling the VNB102 for $399. That’s more expensive than many netbooks, including the Asus Eee PC1005PE ($379), which offers a better design, more comfortable keyboard, and much, much longer battery life.

Stay tuned for a full review.

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