You can take it with you – Gateway 2000’s Solo 9100XL, NEC’s Versa 6230 notebook computers – Hardware Review – Evaluation
Gateway 2000 Solo 9100XL ***1/2
PENTIUM MMX NOTEBOOKS
Configuration WIN 95 233MHz Pentium with MMX, 64MB of EDO RAM, 4GB hard disk, 10x CD-ROM drive, 13.3-inch active-matrix display, 2MB of VRAM List Price $5,599 (READER SERVICE 111) Manufacturer Gateway 2000, 800-315-2536, www.gateway.com
NEC Versa 6230 ***
Configuration WIN 95 233MHz Pentium with MMX, 32MB of EDO RAM, 3GB hard disk, 20x CD-ROM drive, 13.3-inch active-matrix display, 2MB of VRAM List Price $4,299 (READER SERVICE 112) Manufacturer NEC, 800-NEC-VERSA, www.nec-computers.com
Taking your office home or on the road often requires compromises. Notebooks have smaller screens and less computing power, right? Not these two. The new notebooks from Gateway 2000 and NEC pack enough computing power to rival your current desktop, and each has a port-replicator or docking station as an available option. We tested this pair of similarly configured notebooks, along with their docking stations, to see which offers the best business value.
The Gateway 2000 Solo 9100XL and NEC Versa 6230 appear to be distant cousins at first pass. Both are equipped with Intel’s new low-power consumption version of its 233MHz MMX chip, full-size keyboards, 56Kbps PC Card modems, and NEC’s 13.3-inch sharp, bright, active-matrix color LCD screen.
These are true multi-media workhorses as well, sporting built-in stereo speakers, line in/out audio, and NTSC (television) video capabilities. In addition, the Solo has a pair of USB ports.
The Solo 9100XL’s standard setup provides 64MB of RAM and a 4GB hard disk. The Versa 6230 comes equipped with 32MB of RAM and a 3GB hard disk. Both notebooks offer CD-ROM and floppy drives, but the Solo 9100XL combines the floppy drive with the CD-ROM drive, which can be removed to insert a second battery (also standard). The Versa 6230 lets you swap out the floppy drive for the CD-ROM drive, but you must turn out the computer before removing anything. According to NEC, the ability to hot-swap software while the network is powered up will be available soon.
Although the Solo keyboard is solidly constructed, we found it to be too soft and quiet, and the touchpad mouse is a bit close to the spacebar, making it easy to accidentally graze the mouse and move the cursor while typing. We found the Versa’s keypad to be rock solid, providing a more tactile response when typing full speed.
The Versa’s hardware is polished, but we were left short on business software. America Online, Compu-Serve, AT&T WorldNet, and–get ready–Prodigy were installed on the Versa, but we didn’t get an office suite or Quicken Special Edition. The Solo comes with Microsoft Office 97 Special Edition, as well as the aforementioned online services and LapLink for Windows.
Gateway also includes a spare battery, twice as much RAM, a larger hard disk, a port-replicator station, and a large leather carrying case that’s capable of storing the notebook, spare battery, AC power cord, phone cord, and a change of clothes–with room to spare.
The only thing missing is a porter to lug these heavyweights around.
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