This inexpensive laptop isn't fancy, but it satisfies a home user's basic hardware needs.
For $1200 (as of press time), you get a combination DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, four USB ports, FireWire, a 14.1-inch screen, and Wi-Fi on this lightweight (5.7 pounds, not including power adapter) laptop. One thing the price doesn't cover is significant bundled application software.
The C240 is easy to upgrade. The 60GB hard drive sits in a user-accessible bottom compartment covered by a panel that's secured by two small screws. A removable memory card slot resides in a separate bottom compartment protected by a cover that four screws hold in. (You also get 256MB of RAM built in to the motherboard.)
The C240 is comfortable to use. We liked the touchpad-equipped keyboard. Though the keys feel squishy, their white-and-blue lettering is easy to read and the layout is good, especially if you make liberal use of the entire row of function keys at the top of the keyboard.
The C240 has weaker sound than most laptops its size. Its stereo audio, emitted from speakers at the top of the keyboard, won't give music lovers much to tap their toes about; but the headphone port is within easy reach on the left side of the case.
For a relatively inexpensive laptop, the C240 performed well. Equipped with a 1.6-GHz Pentium M 725 and 512MB of RAM, the C240 earned a WorldBench 5 score of 71, comparable to the marks that similarly equipped competitors posted. (The Acer Aspire 2000 and Compaq NC6000 received scores of 75 and 74, respectively--a statistically insignificant 5 percent ahead.) So if you like to ditch the power cord for a few hours down at the coffee shop and multitask with mainstream applications, the C240 can do the job. The C240 performed slightly below average in our battery-life tests. A single battery charge lasted 1 minute short of 3 hours.
The WinBook C240, which offers all of the must-have features plus Wi-Fi at a low price, is a fine first laptop for home buyers.
WorldBench 5 score of 71, 1.6-GHz Pentium M 725, 512MB of DDR333 SDRAM, Windows XP Professional, 14.1-inch screen, 60GB hard drive, DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive, built-in V.92 modem and 10/100 ethernet, 802.11g, touchpad pointing device, 6.6-pound weight (including AC adapter and phone cord). One-year parts and labor warranty, 10-hour weekday toll-free support.