Hands On Usage
As I've mentioned, I am pretty impressed with the ViewSonic VNB108 netbook. It does take some adjusting getting used to a netbook after using a desktop PC and larger laptop, but the VNB108 really isn't that bad.
Performance is as can be expected. It is a netbook and it will never win any performance benchmarks, but for the price and what it is intended (email, web surfing, IM and light office work), it works very well. Impressions of the unit are solid with a very good build quality. The black version we tested uses a high quality plastic finish that is very smooth to touch and feels fairly solid.
The keyboard is pretty good. It uses about 98% of the front and that is good as we sometimes do see some netbooks that do not use up the full space allowed and that is real bad. The keys are a pretty good size, lager than usual, but we have seen some netbooks with larger keys. Still, typing is pretty comfortable and I adjusted in a very short time and my hands or fingers are not small. Yeah, they aren't mine above if you were wondering! The space bar is a little small, but there is a handy little menu key on the right in between the alt and control keys. The right side shift is a pretty good size and the enter key is good enough.
The track pad mouse buttons are a little unique in that there is a single button for both left and right 'clicks', but after only a few minutes I was adjusted. You do need to push down rather firmly, though - and a little too much I feel. I would like to see this improved in future models by ViewSonic as it is really only one of the faults I could find.
As far as the screen goes, we are left rather impressed. The 10.1-inch LED screen is one of the best we have seen on a netbook. It comes with an anti-glare coating that is fantastic in two ways in that it eliminates finger prints as well as annoying reflections. From just about all angles the screen is visible and some business travelers for instance may not like this for privacy reasons and those people with busy eyes.
As far as the sound quality goes, you get stereo audio in the form of two 1 watt speakers at the front base of the netbook. I am no audio expert, but the quality I experienced was pretty good. It is nowhere near as good as the desktop Logitech speakers I use, but adequate enough I think. The volume level is quite loud actually and that surprised us; it does not sound tinny, but it is lacking some bass - but do not forget that we are talking about a netbook here.
Wireless performance may a bit of an issue. Sitting in the same position about 7 or 8 meters away from the router, a normal laptop gets 5 bars (full strength) signal, but the VNB108 only gets 3 bars (medium strength) signal. I haven't tested enough Pinetrail based netbooks to tell if this is normal, but it's something to keep in mind.