capsule review

MicroExpress N3320

At a Glance
  • Micro Express N3320

    PCWorld Rating

    Poorly constructed notebook loaded with inexpensively priced RAM tops our performance chart.

MicroExpress N3320
Artwork: Rick Rizner

The MicroExpress N3320 has the unmistakable whiff of a notebook designed on a tight budget. Despite some admirable features and top-notch performance (thanks to maxed-out memory), it is difficult to upgrade and some components could be better designed.

The N3320 has its charms, chief among them a dandy 12.1-inch wide-screen and an excellent keyboard with four quick-launch buttons. The optical drive is a top-notch multiformat, fixed double-layer DVD burner. At 5 pounds, the unit is easy to handle, and it has a classic ThinkPad-like black exterior. The 3-hour battery life isn't bad.

The case's internals could be better designed. The memory modules and the hard drive are sealed deep inside the case. They can be upgraded, but the procedure isn't documented and it's not an easy process for the average person. (The process entails removing six bottom screws and several other pieces, including the touchpad.) Plus, the wiggly battery releases feel shoddily made, and while I found the user manual useful overall, it's so poorly translated that it's unintentionally funny in places.

Equipped with a 2.2-GHz AMD Turion 64 ML-40 processor, the N3320 rocked our WorldBench 5 tests with a top score among ultraportables of 99, in part because MicroExpress loaded it with the maximum amount of memory, 2GB. Then again, memory is cheap at MicroExpress. You save only $125 by settling for 512MB of RAM (The savings with other companies is closer to $350.)

The MicroExpress N3320 has its good points but a well-designed interior isn't one of them.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    Poorly constructed notebook loaded with inexpensively priced RAM tops our performance chart.

    Pros

    • Inexpensive; offers good performance

    Cons

    • Poorly designed
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