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Hollywood has long relied on actors that are vertically challenged to inject a touch of comedy. If you're short, you're funny seems to be the message. It's a situation that's been uncannily reflected in the laptop industry over the years. Small devices such as the Toshiba Libretto and the Psion NetBook Pro have played the part of mildly interesting - occasionally laughable - sidekick, with the real business being carried on by the big boys and their much more powerful machines.
Now, it seems, the tide is turning. Small laptops and ultramobile PCs such as Sony's UX1XN and OQO's Model 02 and, more recently, the incredibly cheap, portable and usable Asus Eee PC are becoming commonplace. More recently, we've seen Vye's tablet-style mini-v S37, and now we have Belinea's gambit - the s.book 1.
It's certainly small and light, and compares favourably with the very smallest of machines on the market right now. With the lid closed it's barely bigger than a large format paperback book at 230 x 171mm and it's pretty slim too, standing a hardly-substantial 29.4mm proud of a desk.
The weight is as inconsequential as the s.book's dimensions. It's a mere 1.1kg, including the 2,200mAh lithium ion battery, and it all adds up to a laptop that's as easy to sling into a handbag as it is a briefcase or rucksack. This is an ultraportable in every sense of the word, and the inclusion of a luxuriously soft leather case, which comes as standard in the box, is the icing on the cake.
Before I go any further, however, I'm going to point out that looks aren't the s.book's strong suit. If your preference is for Sony VAIOs and you secretly harbour the desire to own a MacBook Air (shame on you) then this dainty machine will not be for you.
The lid may be glossy but the graphics adorning it are dull, and once you open the lid the plain-Jane silver surrounding the keyboard does nothing to stir the blood. It's solidly built, though. I particularly liked the thick plastic protecting the 7in screen, the sturdy hinge and the four rubber nipples which provide a degree of shock protection against over-enthusiastic lid-slammers.
Around the edges are some surprises: there's a full-sized standard DVI port on the left, next to an SD card reader, while on the right edge are an Ethernet port, two USB sockets plus 3.5mm headphone and microphone sockets. Though notably there's no optical drive as there is on the Vye mini-v S37.