Holbe Dialogue is a company that isn't afraid to try something new with its laptop designs. The initial Flybook had a novel mouse and touchpad arrangement, but the big innovation with the Holbe Dialogue Flybook VM (£1500 inc. VAT) is the screen.
It's a standard 12.1-inch Super-TFT panel, but rather than being fixed, it comes fitted with a stand, rather like an external monitor, so you can raise it 50mm off the base unit and pivot it to give a more ergonomic viewpoint. Being a Super-TFT panel, this does create a good deal of reflection, but once you have angled it just right, it makes for a great viewing position.
On the downside, the size of the screen means the keyboard is on the compact side and we found the keys a little awkward to get used to, as they responded sluggishly to being touched. The keyboard sits in the centre of the board with large palm rests.
The mouse buttons and touchpad are small and awkward to use. A fingerprint scanner sits between the mouse buttons, so you won't need to remember passwords when logging on to the machine.
Aside from the cramped keyboard, this laptop proved extremely good to use. It weighs in at 1.8kg, making this a lightweight ultraportable, so it's ideal for the regular traveller looking for a machine they can carry around with them.
Battery life was something of a mixed affair, as it lasted 133 minutes when being used for office tasks, but for multimedia this dropped down to 110 minutes.
Running Windows XP instead of Vista and shipping with an Intel Core Duo, instead of the newer Core 2 Duo, this machine is already starting to show its age, but it's only now being made available in the UK.
For those who need to keep in touch with email while away, you'll find that mobile telephony in the form of HSDPA is fitted as standard.
The Core Duo chip runs at 1.66GHz and is supported by 2048MB of memory, which really helps things tick over quickly. This is a low-voltage chip, so while it's dual-core, it isn't designed for raw processing.
With a body thickness of 15mm, we found there was a degree of heat build-up on the left-hand side of the VM's casing, but the low-voltage chip is the best compromise between power usage and performance for this chassis size.
The hard drive may only have a capacity of 30GB, but that is due to it being a 1.8-inch drive. So while it fits into the casing better, larger capacity isn't an option.
The Holbe Dialogue Flybook VM is definitely more than a novel new screen design. The machine is a vast improvement over earlier models.