Still unclear about the difference in size between notebooks and subnotebooks?
If we take for example the NEC Versa UltraLite this review is about and stack
it up (literally) on top of the reference Acer Travelmate 739TLV the size
difference is immediately evident. The 3.3lb UltraLite is much more compact and
very thin compared to the full-size 7lb Acer Travelmate.
also makes the distinction of breaking with tradition and going with nice shinny silver / gray
colour scheme. If you haven't heard it already, black is tre passe.
Which notebook would you rather lug around for a day?
When portability is the main factor, the subnotebook formfactor comes out on
top - literally.
Full-size features in a small
|The Versa-Glide touch pad and mouse buttons support
drag-lock functions, double-tap / tap-disable capabilities and
As it's always
the little things in life that make or break a computer, we were
gleefully glad to see that NEC engineers had opted for a touch sensitive pad instead of
a tiny rubberized dot. I've used both type of pointing devices and have
always found the touch pad to be better suited for applications like PhotoShop and general mouse-movements. Call
me old fashioned, but the touchpad is just so much easier to use,
and the cursor can be moved around the screen that much faster.
The little left and right buttons work well enough, and the touch pad can be
adjusted for different user preferences (sensitivity, speed, etc). As a bonus, all that
extra space in front of the keyboard is perfect for resting your wrists whilst typing away.
Now since we're on the subject of typing, we must stop for a second and touch upon
what will undoubtedly be the main point of contention with anyone making the
leap from a full-sized notebook to the Versa UltraLite - the keyboard.
The keyboard on the UltraLite is an 86-key low-profile solution that is
equipped with 12 function keys, the usual set of Windows hot keys, an inverted T
set of arrow keys and a few things that will take getting used to. Technically
the keyboard is not much different than a standard notebook keyboard, with pitch
sitting at 17.5mm and keystroke down from 3.0mm to 2.5mm.
All subnotebooks suffer from the same issue with their keyboards, and that is their smaller size.
You see, persons with big hands find it difficult to make the transition from
the standard notebook keyboard to the condensed subnotebook style keyboard. It
took me about a week of constant use before I was able to type out a sentence
and correctly hit the right-side shift key which is no larger than a standard key.
odd-key placement for me was the delete key - a key I apparently
use very frequently while typing. On standard sized notebooks this very crucial key is
positioned right above the backspace key. On the Versa UltraLite's keyboard that we
tested it was positioned two keys off from the space bar on the right
hand side. After looking at the brochure for the UltraLite on NEC's website,
this keyboard conundrum may simply relate to the US/European compatibility the
review unit featured however.
the flick of a tiny DIP switch hidden behind the memory slot
cover, the keyboard on the review unit
we tested could be switched between US and European standards - Euro's and all. Oddly the micro-sized
space bar on the review unit (left) posed no problems what so ever.
Next up, we take a closer look at the UltraLite itself.