Ascentia notebook puts desktops to shame

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 November, 1997, 12:00am

The AST Ascentia M5230X is a worthy addition to the growing list of Pentium 233 MHz MMX notebooks hitting the market.

The Ascentia M5230X is the premier model in AST's M-series line featuring a hardware configuration that would put many power desktops to shame.

Besides boasting the market's fastest mobile Pentium processor, the Pentium 233 MHz, with MMX technology, is complete with a 13.3-inch TFT active matrix, liquid crystal display screen.

Other Ascentia M models use less expensive 12.1-inch active matrix.

The screen has a maximum XGA resolution of 1,028 x 768 pixels with 65,536 colours, but can display 16 million colours at low resolution.

At high resolution, it offers a lot of Windows desktop space to run applications. The Ascentia comes with 64 MB of RAM - more than enough to run demanding Windows applications, but 32 MB and 128 MB models also are available.

The Ascentia has 512 KB of level-2 cache for Intel's 430TX chipset for better system performance. Other notable features include a large 4 Gb hard drive.

Large storage is a must for business users running resource-hungry applications such as office suites and graphics software, and the Ascentia M easily satisfies all of those requirements.

The 20X CD-ROM drive, which swaps with the floppy drive that works externally when the CD-ROM drive is in use, makes for fast software installation and quicker reads from CD-ROM-based applications.

The AST Ascentia uses a centrally positioned touchpad that allows you to navigate around Windows 95 using your finger. Not everyone likes touchpads but they work well, and most notebooks are now opting for them.

I liked several aspects of the Ascentia M's design such as a power and reset button below the screen where it is easy to see.

This eliminates the possibility of switching on the computer accidentally with the lid closed and draining the power of the lithium-ion batteries.

Other attractive design features include a wide palm rest, front-mounted stereo speakers and status display.

The Ascentia also has standard sound features such as built-in crystal audio, SRS 3-D sound and MIDI and .WAV file support.

On the hardware side, it comes with a volume-control thumb wheel and microphone and speaker jacks.

For connecting external peripherals, the Ascentia has single serial, parallel VGA, external floppy external keyboard and PCI docking ports. In addition, there is a universal serial bus (USB) port for connecting next-generation USB peripherals.

Two PC-card slots let you add standard PCMCIA cards such as modems and network cards and support 32-bit CardBus and zoomed video PC-card technologies.

The Ascentia is a sturdy-looking notebook with powerful features.

The battery has a life of less than two hours and weighs 3 kg.

Anyone wanting a notebook with the latest processor, a large hard drive, sizeable XGA screen and three-year warranty, should consider AST's Ascentia M series of notebooks.

PROS AND CONS Product: Ascentia M5230X CTX 13.3 Price: $39,500 Configuration: Supports CardBus and zoomed video Pros: Excellent 13.3-inch TFT screen; large hard drive; ample RAM Cons: None