Texas Instruments Travelmate 2000. (notebook computer) (includes related article) (evaluation)
by Troy Tucker, Mike Hudnall
If you're ready to take your computing on the road, then the Texas Instruments (TI) TravelMate 2000 notebook just may be your ticket.
It's an amazingly small 286 notebook computer, measuring only 11 inches wide x 8.5 inches deep x 1.4 inches thick and weighing in at a meager 4.4 pounds. It comes standard with 1MB of RAM, a 20MB hard disk, and a backlit LCD VGA display. The TravelMate has an attractively styled case and a comfortable, solid-feeling keyboard.
The unit I reviewed came with the optional external 3 1/2-inch disk drive and 2400-baud modem/fax card. All of the optional accessories can be quickly installed or detached, which means you don't have to lug them around when you don't need them. The drive plugs directly into an expansion port located on the back of the computer. To install it, simply pop off the rear cover and plug in the drive. Two thumbscrews hold the drive in place, so you don't have to fuss with cables. It's pretty slick.
The modem/fax card plugs into a small compartment located just above the keyboard. The card is held in place by a single screw and the plug. I assumed that this screw would be a thumbscrew like those on the disk drive, but it's not. However, if you have a small screwdriver, you can swap cards in a matter of minutes.
I was impressed with the software that came with the system: BatteryPro and LapLink, a file transfer program that serves as your gateway to the outside world if you don't purchase the optional 3 1/2-inch disk drive. Connected by the LapLink cable and running the LapLink software, two computers have complete access to each other's disk files. BatteryPro is perhaps the more valuable piece of software. It's a utility package that functions as a power-conservation system for the computer. The BatteryWatch feature of the package monitors battery consumption, and BatteryPro provides only the power necessary to do your work. This combination saves valuable battery power that's usually wasted by other portables.
The battery test results for the TravelMate were acceptable. With the BatteryPro utilities installed, it's possible to get about an hour and a half of use from each charge, with moderate disk activity. The battery pack consists of a candy bar-shaped nicad battery that's about 11 1/2 inches long. It fits into a very tight compartment on the back of the computer. The process of removing and replacing this piece of hardware is, at best, difficult. However, that's an extremely small price to pay when you consider the small, lightweight design of the TravelMate.
Included with the modem is a well-rounded set of communications programs, BitCom and BitFax. BitCom is a full-featured terminal program, and BitFax takes advantage of the card's fax capabilities. Both are extremely easy to use; in fact, I successfully used both without reading a single page from the manuals. I'd never sent a fax before doing this review, but BitFax walked me right through the whole process of sending files to a fax machine here in the office.
I thoroughly enjoyed using the TravelMate 2000. I thought the computer was well designed and attractive. In addition, it seems to be very sturdy and solid, which is a big plus in a portable computer.
The only thing I didn't like about the computer was the small plastic covers that protect the external ports. They just didn't want to stay in place for me. I simply removed them and placed them in the box for safe-keeping. (Most portables don't even have protective covers, so it's not really a problem.)
If you're thinking about purchasing a high-quality notebook computer, then you owe it to yourself to check out the TravelMate 2000. It's a very powerful tool that comes with good software, has room for expansion, and offers you a wide range of optional equipment.