Saturday, June 7, 2008

Flybook VM

  • Pros Great screen. Light. Good features
  • Cons Lacks power. Pretty expensive

Dialogue's Flybooks were in the mini-laptop game way before Microsoft started talking in riddles about 'Origami', and it continues to be an innovator in the market. Its first model grabbed attention for being outrageously small; the VM keeps those compact dimensions while adding a handy new adjustable screen.

Most tablet PC screens flip around and lie flat, but the VM's folds out on an arm. This makes it more like a desktop monitor and much easier on the neck than a tablet, particularly if you plan to use the computer both at home and on the move.

Mean screen
That screen is very good quality too: the 2048x1536 resolution means pin-sharp images for everything from spreadsheets or games. That said, the Flybook is built for portability rather than speed and power – there's not really enough going on under the bonnet to excite gamers.

Doing the processing is an Intel Core Duo ULV chip-set clocking in at 1.06 GHz, backed up by 1GB of RAM (expandable to 2GB). Storage is up to 60GB, and there's also room for a DVD drive.

Wireless wonderland
Connectivity is good too, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth included, as well as all the expected wired options. Nice extras include a 1.3MP camera and, unlike many UMPCs, a full QWERTY keyboard. In action this keyboard proves itself a worthy addition – it's slightly more cramped than you might be used to, but still very usable.

Elsewhere the lack of power leaves us hanging a bit, and while it's great for basic word processing and web browsing it lacks the computing power to really go to town.

But the positive side to the compromise is the weight – a tad over 1.6kg – and good battery life (we got just under three hours of moderate use). Combine these features with the VM's screen, and the good far outweighs the bad.