ViewSonic is best known for its LCD screens and projectors, but also offers a small range of laptops and netbooks. Despite taking obvious inspiration from two of its most famous rivals, its ViewBook Pro is a usable and highly portable CULV device.

With its name borrowing heavily from the Apple MacBook Pro range, it's no surprise to see the retail packaging is equally similar to Apple's. The slim chassis is also almost identical in every way to Toshiba's stylish Portége R600 machines.

The design is sleek, eye-catching and portable. Despite its compact dimensions, the chassis feels very tough. While the thin screen panel flexes easily, this in fact protects it further, as it is less prone to cracking under pressure during travel.

The 13.3-inch backlit screen is stunning. Colours are rich and vibrant with a pleasing level of contrast. It is also an extremely bright panel, with the glossy Super-TFT coating proving one of the least reflective we've seen, so comfortable visibility is provided in all lighting conditions.

The use of a two-spindle design in such a sleek chassis is surprising and the capacious 320GB hard drive is backed by a dual-layer DVD rewriter for CD and DVD access on the move. A more affordable model is also available without a built-in optical drive for £699 (inc. VAT).

Powered by an Intel Consumer Ultra- Low Voltage (CULV) processor, power is sacrificed for mobility. Having said that, the dual-core chip still allows most office tasks and even basic photo editing applications to run smoothly.

Strong mobility

Weighing 1.7kg, strong mobility is provided. While ViewSonic claims up to 480-minutes of mobile use, our tests revealed a more modest battery life of 309-minutes. Regardless, this is a strong result and will keep you working for more than half the day away from mains power.

The wide keyboard and large keys make it easy to speed type. All keys respond firmly and accurately with no flex. The only flaw we noted was that, when selecting text with the Shift and Ctrl keys pressed simultaneously, neither key responded, forcing us to use the touchpad.

A fingerprint scanner between the mouse buttons lets you protect your data, an HDMI port lets you connect to an HDTV and a 7-in-1 card reader provides flash storage card support. The use of just two USB ports is a disappointment, however.

Although much of its inspiration seems to be lifted from Apple and Toshiba, the ViewBook Pro is a pleasing portable. Its great screen, mobility and features make it ideal for the frequent traveller and an impressive, if a little uninspired, addition to the CULV market.

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