Veridata LapPower 286/40. (laptop computer) (evaluation)
by Denny Atkin
VERIDATA 11901 Goldring Rd. Arcadia, CA 91006 (818) 303-0613
CPU Type: 80286; CPU Speed: 12 MHz
Conventional Memory: 640K; Extended
Ports: 1 serial, 1 parallel, 1 video, 1 keyboard/keypad, 1 floppy drive, 1 expansion chassis
Drives: 3 1/2-ihch 1.44MB floppy, 41 MB hard
Video Modes: text, CGA, EGA, VGA
Screen Type: ST backlit LCD
List Price: Not available
Street Price: $2,049.50
You don't have to leave your powerful programs in the office and settle for stripped-down, floppy-based software any more. With a detachable keyboard, VGA graphics, a speedy 40MB hard drive, a 1.44MB floppy drive, and a moderately powerful processor, the Veridata LapPower 286/40 may sound a lot like the system on your desktop.
The LapPower's boxy case contains a system of moderate power.
The 12-MHz 80286 processor is rapidly heading toward obsolescence in the desktop world, but it's only now becoming the low-end standard in the laptop world. Unless you find yourself using Windows a lot, though, or playing games in your spare time, you'll find the Veridata's performance acceptable. The system ran Geo Works, WordPerfect, and QModem with no perceptible loss of performance compared to my desktop system.
The VGA graphics are a welcome change from the blocky CGA displays found on older laptops. Hard and floppy disk drive performance are on a par with the performance of similar drives in a 286 desktop unit. Only the keypadless keyboard and LCD screen serve to remind you that you're using a laptop system.
Even these minor limitations can be remedied, though. The computer has an external VGA port, which provided a clear and speedy color display on my Mitsubishi Diamondscan color monitor. Veridata offers an optional strap-on numeric keypad that attaches to the right side of the laptop's detachable keyboard. You can also attach any standard PC keyboard that uses the PS/2 style connector, an option you may want to consider if you don't like soft, mushy keyboards. The LapPower's keyboard is quiet but has a very short throw and doesn't provide much tactile feedback.
The 16-gray-scale LCD display is crisp but suffers from severe smearing and ghosting. Brightness and contrast are adjustable but not enough to eliminate the ghosting. While the LCD display is OK for use on the road, you'll want to keep a VGA monitor in the office.
There's an expansion connector on the back of the LapPower for an optional expansion box that accepts industry-standard cards. You'll also find a port for an external 51/4-inch disk drive, and an internal 2400-baud modem can be added by your dealer. Attach the card box, full-size keyboard, disk drive, monitor, and serial mouse to the laptop and close the LCD display; and you'll never know you're using a laptop.
The system has a battery life of about two hours with the LCD and hard drive in constant use. The included PowerCon utility will shut down the hard drive and backlit LCD and toggle the microprocessor into a standby mode after a user-defined period of inactivity.
Other than the less-than-satisfactory LCD display, the only real problem with the LapPower is poor documentation. The LapPower 286/40 is sold by companies other than Veridata, so the program includes a generic 179-page book called the Laptop Operation Manual that's inadequate as a tutorial or reference guide and includes no information on customer support or even how to contact Veridata. You'll need to depend on the dealer from whom you purchase the unit for support.
If you're looking for a laptop PC that can also serve as an all-purpose desktop machine, the LapPower may be the machine for you. If you're looking for a machine to use specifically on the road, though, you can probably find a smaller and lighter unit at a comparable price.