HP OmniBook XE3
The competitively priced HP Omnibook XE3 comes in a range of options. We reviewed the 750MHz Pentium III model, with a 13-inch XGA TFT screen. HP offers 14.1 or 15.1-inch display options as well but we didn't see the need; our screen was bright, vivid, and comfortable to view. The keyboard was comfortable as well, requiring minimal effort, and the touchpad was within easy reach. We also liked the one-touch buttons at the top of the unit that provided instant access to applications and Web sites. Other noteworthy features include the XE3's sleek, blue-gray chassis that HP smartly covered with rubberized corners, preventing damage from knocks and drops.
The XE3 comes with a choice of Windows 98 or Windows 2000 operating system software. Users can network with either, but we'd recommend 2000 if security is an issue.
The Omnibook offers an abundance of connectivity options including: two USB ports, serial, parallel, infrared, PS/2, and VGA ports; a 10/100 Ethernet connection and 56K modem jacks on board. There's also two type II card slots (which can also be used for one type III device.) The XE3 can be attached to printers through both parallel and USB ports. The power management features are convenient and flexible as well. There's two power switches, the regular on-off switch and the suspend button. Pushing suspend turns off the display and the hard disk. Pushing it again brings users back to the current session, without a reboot. The Hybernate mode actually saves data to the hard disk, and when users resume work, they're also brought back to the current session. Users can also set the Hybernate option to come on at chosen intervals.
The Li-ion battery lasts an average of three hours before recharging. When running on the battery, Speedstep technology automatically drops the processor speed from 750 to 550MHz, extending battery life on this 7-pound, 2-ounce Omnibook.
With so many options to choose from this notebook will surely please a variety of users. The line incorporates the latest technology and the unit we reviewed was very easy and comfortable to use -- just be sure to check out service and warranty options before making any purchases.
$1,699 with Windows 98; $1,799 with Windows 2000
PROS: Comfortable keyboard and touchpad; power management features; convenient one-touch buttons; DVD player built-in
CONS: Fee for live tech support after the first year; e-mail inquires answered for free as long as the computer is owned