capsule review

Micro Express FL3020

At a Glance
  • Micro Express FL3020

    PCWorld Rating

    This fast, average-priced notebook has a built-in Webcam, but its battery life is short.

Micro Express FL3020
Artwork: Rick Rizner, Chris Manners

The swift, light Micro Express FL3020 stands out with its built-in Webcam. Centered above the screen, the camera shoots stills and videos with sound, and swivels up or down 30 degrees. It's a shame, however, that the 5.2-pound FL3020 has such short battery life: just 2 hours, 3 minutes in our tests.

The $1399 FL3020 is fast; thanks to the 2-GHz Pentium M 760 processor and 1.28GB of RAM loaded on our Windows XP Home review unit, it earned a near-the-top WorldBench 5 score of 94 in our speed tests. Its other advantages include a good keyboard and a bright 14.1-inch wide screen that's perfect either for working or for enjoying a DVD movie. A row of media buttons along the right side of the keyboard lets you play CDs without turning on the notebook. The speakers are unfortunately too weak to make listening pleasant; but the headphones port is nicely located on the front of the notebook, along with a two-in-one media slot that accepts SD Card or Memory Stick.

The layout of the case is convenient, with two USB ports on either side and a FireWire port and multiformat DVD burner just around the right corner. The Wi-Fi switch is also within easy reach, positioned at the top of the media buttons.

Your expansion prospects with this notebook are mixed. It comes with so much system memory, 1GB, that you probably won't care that the memory chip isn't easily swapped out. (It sits in spring-loaded metal arms in an easy-to-access bottom compartment--however, there is so little room to move the left arm that I couldn't release the chip.) Docking is limited to third-party USB stations. The 60GB hard drive, however, pops out quickly for replacement or future upgrading. An additional drawback: The user manual, provided only in a clumsy electronic format, is a pain to search.

If you want a speedy, average-priced notebook with a built-in Webcam, the FL3020 could be a good choice--but you'll have to overlook its short battery life.

Carla Thornton

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    This fast, average-priced notebook has a built-in Webcam, but its battery life is short.

    Pros

    • Includes a built-in webcam

    Cons

    • Short battery life
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