CnMbook review

Price when reviewed

A full-blown netbook for just £115 exc VAT? It seems too good to be true, and to a large extent it is, but the tiny CnMbook has its charms. For a start it weighs only 650g, but we were also pleasantly surprised by its battery life of 4hrs 6mins, even if the battery itself isn’t straightforward to replace.

CnMbook review

The next surprise was the quality of the screen: it may only measure 7in diagonally, while a resolution of 800 x 480 is undeniably low, but colours are vibrant and the text sharp. It’s far, far better than we expected.

Limitations soon show, however. The CnMbook uses a customised version of Debian Linux, but it’s basic: there’s no way to alter the screen’s brightness, the power meter has only four steps, and the user interface is reminiscent of cheap personal organisers rather than a full-blown OS. Although you can download and install new applications, note the 2GB flash drive has just 1GB of storage space spare.

The keyboard is similarly basic. The keys are tiny and feel cheap, and we continually found ourselves hitting the Alt Gr button instead of the spacebar when touch-typing. Lack of quality again shows itself in the loud “clicky” mouse buttons.

With a 400MHz processor inside, we weren’t surprised that it takes a few seconds for applications to load. When an app has loaded, though, the CnMbook is pretty responsive.

This isn’t a serious rival to our award winners, and if you do buy it set your expectations low. But it does the job, and we suspect that in time – just like us – you’ll grow irrationally fond of it.

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