PC Partner LX. (Evaluation)
by Dana Stoll
Leading Technology's PC Partner LX is a super machine for two reasons: high technology and low price.
Designed with new computer users in mind, it comes straight out of the box ready to plug in. It's equipped with everything today's computer whiz needs (to get started, anyway), and you have the option of ordering an array of peripherals as you expand your knowledge.
The PC Partner LX comes with two floppy drives (51/4- and 3 1/2-inch), allowing you to use both disk formats. It's equipped with a 40MB hard drive, a full megabyte of memory (many new software packages require a meg), and a VGA monitor. In short, the package has everything you need to run all your favorite--or soon-to-be-favorite-applications.
It took me less than ten minutes to set up the unit. The ports at the back of the machine are clearly marked, so there was no confusion as to where to plug what. There are ports marked for the keyboard, mouse, joystick, and monitor, in addition to two serial ports and one parallel port for the printer. The connectors are the thumbscrew type, so no tools are needed.
The documentation that accompanies this unit is logical and easy to read. The layout of the manuals and an extensive index make it easier to find that one bit of information you don't have.
The PC Partner comes with HyperDOS already loaded on the hard drive. HyperDOS is the neophyte computer user's best friend. In clear and concise language, this GUI (Graphical User Interface) teaches you what you need to know about your computer and gives you a great environment in which to apply your knowledge.
HyperDOS is split into two basic sections: Knowledge and Accessories. In the Knowledge group you can find information on computer care, hardware components, warranty issues, repair, and technical support. It's nice knowing that when you need it, the information is easily accessible even if--God forbid--your children colored on the tech support pages of your manual.
The Accessories section provides you with all the desktop features you need to keep up with your busy schedule: a calendar for all your important activities, a letter writer for your correspondence, an address book for your friends' whereabouts, and a calculator for your finances. The DOS operations screen shows note cards with DOS commands (in perfect syntax) written on the top, with an explanation of the commands below. All you do is click on the card to execute the command. You can use the DOS Shell to explore your operating system and actually see and learn how it works. There's even a Program Manager section that enables you to access your favorite add-in programs from the GUI. The instructions on how to add easy to follow.
If you like, this can be the computer that you built. Leading Technology offers many options at reasonable prices. Larger hard drives, memory upgrades (to 4MB), internal and external modems, mice, sound boards, high-resolution video cards, and CD-ROM drives are some of the options available. The unit that I worked with had the standard 640 x 480, .52-resolution VGA monitor, and if I were purchasing one of these units (which I'd certainly consider), I'd opt for the higher-resolution monitor. When you're doing marathon stretches of computer work (such as when you discover the hottest new action game and play it for eight hours straight), the first thing to go is your eyes. Anthing to eliminate the itching and burning eyes and headache is worth a few dollars more.
You may also opt for additional software. Leading Technology offers several types of bundled software. Preschool, Grammar School, High School, Entertainment, Personal Home Manager, and Business Manager bundles are available. Each bundle contains six software programs. Window Works and Lotus Workers are also offered.
At $1,199 for the basic computer, the PC Partner LX is priced well under its competitors. For someone who's just breaking into the money pit of home computing (there's always another gadget or some new software package with better ... whatever to put on your wish list), it's a reasonable price for better than reasonable performance.