Construction: Field Testing (cont.)
Keyboard - The X notebook's keyboard is similar to the previously reviewed W5A's. The only difference is that the home/end/page up/page down buttons are clustered differently. There is a reasonable amount of tactile feedback considering that this is a consumer notebook, but it feels pretty average. However, if you consider Dell and HP/Compaq average, this keyboard is sub average.
The only problem we have with the layout is that the home/end/page up/page down keys are all clustered awkwardly below the enter key. While this means you don't have to stretch your fingers to access them, you don't get the same feel for the notebook, because their placement is counterintuitive when it comes to keyboard ergonomics. "Correct" placement is debatable, but generally speaking, it should be a three by two button arrangement in the upper right hand corner (including the insert and delete keys).
It's too bad that Winbook doesn't use a full-sized keyboard for a more natural feel.
LEDs - There are two LED strips. One is located on the right side of the system and the second is located on the front right lip. The first LED strip includes LEDs for (top to bottom): num lock (green), scroll lock (green), caps lock (green), hard drive activity (green when active), and WiFi status (green when active).
There is a secondary strip situated on the front right side of the notebook. Two LEDs are placed here (left to right): standby status (blinking green when active) and power/battery status (solid green when plugged in, blinking orange when charging, blinking red + beep when the power level is less than 15%).
The only problem we have with the first LED strip design is that it gives a very low plane of vision. In fact, if you are leaning back to watch a movie or just leaning back in general, it is extremely hard to distinguish which LEDs are active. All you see are green blurbs.
Touchpad & Buttons - Like the keyboard, the touchpad is spaced appropriately, so that switching between the two is about the same as any other average notebook.
Compared to other notebooks, the touchpad has a fairly smooth texture, at least more so than the rest of the notebook. It is smoother than most mainstream notebooks, but it still has a fine, micrograin texture with pretty smooth traction. In fact, it tends to track faster than most other notebooks. For some, this is a good thing; for others, it is not.
In our opinion, the buttons are a little small. This makes the combination of tracking and clicking a bit less than optimal. Ideally, we would like to see fatter buttons (though not longer).
Microphone - There is an integrated microphone on the X notebook, which is an advantage for those who like such things as audio messaging.
Speakers - The speakers on the X notebook are of a reasonably good quality, but they are sub-par for what we have come to expect from a multimedia oriented notebook. At max volume, they are loud enough to be heard in the next room over. In fact, if this notebook is used in a bedroom setup, you are going to keep the person in the next room up at night. When we listened to Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know," the audio clarity was slightly below what we have seen on other consumer multimedia notebooks, e.g., the instrumentals and voice inflections get slightly distorted above 40% or so. When it comes to movies, you probably won't hear enough of a difference at max volume to pick out any distortion (unless there is an audio track playing during that segment of video). Granted, this notebook is one of only a handful of ultraportables that provide a much more feature laden multimedia experience. Few notebooks utilize a third speaker in their design (below the display).