10 of the best show way for notebooks

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 August, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 August, 1995, 12:00am

EVERY machine I took home and played with, not only did the job. But did it quite well.

The real differences were in the extras.

Each notebook seemed to have something that was just a little better than the others.

Apple DuoDock 280c This is the only machine available from Apple at this time, no doubt because of the impending announcements about new PowerBooks.

The DuoDock is a little old in the scheme of things but is an excellent machine. It isa Macintosh (probably the overriding concern for those who want it). The DuoDock is a borderline subnotebook: small and light. It can be connected to a docking station to function as desktop Mac.

Compaq Contura 420C As the world's number one retailer of PCs, Compaq can be expected to produce something of value and indeed it has. This is the only machine without a carrying case. The reason for this is that the Contura 420C comes with a handle that clips onto the bottom of the case. This cuts down on weight of course, and is quite convenient.

Compaq Aero 4/25 This little baby could well be the sleeper of the pack. For those who have not got a lot of money but want something that works, is simple and light, then this is the machine for them. It is one of the smallest, it is monochrome, and has the smallest keyboard.

It does run Windows, however, and I have seen a colleague using one on the road. If all you want to do is write, then this is probably the best buy in town.

Dell Latitude Xpi One of the first things Dell did after officially opening their offices in Hong Kong recently was to lend me a notebook. The Latitude XPi is a 90 megahertz Pentium-based machine that is one of the fastest - if not the fastest tested. It jumps to life very quickly indeed. It is a powerful machine for those who need it. It also has solid keyboard.

Digital HiNote Ultra This little subnotebook has some interesting features. It has a wedge-shaped external floppy disk drive that clips onto the bottom of the machine, thus eliminating the floppy-dangling-on-a-cable problem. It is small, light, powerful and sleek. This is only the beginning, however. Digital produces a lightweight dock that slips under the computer, thus turning the little thing into possibly the smallest multi-media machine around.

The entire setup, including the docking station, weighs less than some of the other notebooks. A real coup for Digital.

Epson ActiveNote 880c The people at Epson have put together a solid machine. It is perhaps a little heavy but has a track pad for moving the mouse. The track pad first came out on an Apple PowerBook and lets the user move his finger on a special square that tracks the movement of the finger.

There are no moving parts (except for the finger, of course). Epson added a more useful feature that is not available on the PowerBook: tapping your finger on the pad is the same as pressing the mouse button. Clever.

Hewlett-Packard Omnibook 600c This machine is something of a darling of the lot. It is small, powerful and has the most unusual mouse I have seen. The mouse pops out from the side and what looks like a sleek clothes hanger attached to a flat plastic bar sits there waiting for you to move it. The bar can move in and out and back and forward. This makes the mouse on the screen move. It sounds awful but, in fact, works well. Not only that, it does not need a solid surface to work on. This is definitely the machine for those on the road who want to travel light.

IBM 755CX Until a few years ago, IBM had a reputation for producing dinosaur machines: everything was big and unwieldy. All that has changed now. IBM's first ThinkPad was such a success that the company itself probably lost millions because it could not make them fast enough. The 755CX is one of the latest notebooks from IBM. It is one of the few Pentium-based machines tested and it was fast. It uses the button-mouse in the centre of the keyboard to move the mouse. The button is easier to use than one would think.

IBM 701C This is certainly one of the most talked-about notebooks available. What makes this different from any other notebook is the 'butterfly' keyboard. (IBM tries to discourage people from using the word 'butterfly' because it is not the official name. No one seems to be listening.) The way in which it has been designed, the keyboard - split from the middle like a flight of steps - folds in when it is closed, and expands when the top is opened. This makes the notebook small but with a full-size keyboard. This innovative design from Big Blue is turning a lot of other vendors blue with envy.

Zeos Meridian 800C The Zeos is a heavy machine because it is loaded with just about everything imaginable. It has PCMCIA cards coming out the gills. It also has the biggest carrying case. Its performance is equal to any of the other similarly equipped machines.

For those with a car who want to take the entire office with them on the road, this could be the machine of choice.