Micro Express 259iA1
At a Glance
Micro Express 259iA1
Sleek, wedge-shaped wide-screen model has a stark-looking design, but its cranky touchpad disappoints.
The Micro Express 259iA1, a 15.4-inch wide-screen notebook, has an attractively plain design. A wide silver lid, a big black keyboard, and the borderless touchpad floating in the wrist rest all contribute to a minimalist effect. The 7-pound laptop's wedge shape slims it to a pleasing 1-inch height in front. The screen offers a native resolution of 1680 by 1050 pixels, which should be just right for most people. Windows icons at their default size settings are smallish but eminently readable. The 259iA1 provides more detail than many 15.4-inch laptops with lower resolutions do, yet its display is easier to read than some screens with resolutions of 1920 by 1200.
Audiophiles and videophiles will appreciate that the 259iA1's front audio ports include a headphones port capable of doubling as an S/PDIF port for connecting higher-quality speakers. You get TV-out and TV-in ports, plus a fourth USB 2.0 port tucked inside a small compartment on the bottom of the notebook. A fixed multiformat DVD burner sits on the left side of the case, and an SD Card slot is a small but nice extra.
The 259iAl's keyboard is a dream to type on: roomy and firm with deeply depressing keys and a nice built-in slant. Unfortunately, we had some trouble getting the touchpad calibrated on the unit we looked at. Even after we adjusted the sensitivity and speed settings several times, the cursor remained slightly flighty.
We also had some trouble getting the Micro Express's instant-on DVD feature to work at first. The stand-alone application, InterVideo InstantOn, bypasses Windows when you press a shortcut button at the top of the keyboard; but it refused to launch our DVD the first few times we tried. Eventually, however, it worked reliably.
Audio, which flows from speakers stylishly embedded in the lower screen frame, was fairly loud, but the highest volumes seemed to trigger a faint background buzz. We missed having keyboard volume buttons, especially because the <Fn> keys are poorly marked and had little effect on volume. We were forced to control volume with software sliders.
The 259iA1 is a fine performer. Equipped with a 2.1-GHz Pentium M 765, it's the fastest notebook we've tested, zooming to a WorldBench 5 score of 99. It ran for just under 3 hours on one battery charge, an average length of time.
The Micro Express 259iA1's cleanly delineated case design has avant-garde appeal, and the 15.4-inch widescreen is tops. The unit performs well, even as a stand-alone DVD player, once the kinks work out.