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NEC Versa UltraLite - Extensive Review

NEC Versa UltraLite - Extensive Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: The NEC Versa UltraLite is positively sleek, and amazingly slim, measuring in at a mere 1.06" thick
 92% Rating:   
Filed under: Notebooks Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: NEC Sep 04 2001   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Notebooks > NEC Versa UltraLite

The Size Difference

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.

The UltraLite 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 package

The Versa-Glide touch pad and mouse buttons support drag-lock functions, double-tap / tap-disable capabilities and IntelliMouse emulation.

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.

Condensed 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.

The other 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.

With 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.

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Contents of Article: NEC Versa UltraLite
 Pg 1.  NEC Versa UltraLite - Extensive Review
 Pg 2.  First, what is a subnotebook?
 Pg 3.  — The Size Difference
 Pg 4.  Features of the UltraLite
 Pg 5.  External CDROM and Floppy Drive
 Pg 6.  Powered by the Crusoe Processor
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: Battery Life
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: Productivity
 Pg 9.  UltraLite Conclusions

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