Sun Moon Star 386SX. (evaluation)
by Troy Tucker
SUN MOON STAR 1941 Ringwood Ave. San Jose, CA 95131
CPU Type: 386SX; CPU Speed: 16 MHz Conventional Memory. 640K,- Expanded Memory. 384K
Ports: 2 serial (mouse attaches to serial port), 1 parallel, 1 game
Drives: 5 1/2-inch 1.2MB floppy, 43MB hard
Video Modes: text, CGA, EGA, VGA
List Price: $2,195
Street Price: $1,799
Ease of setup, a small footprint, and opportunities for expansion make the Sun Moon Star 386SX a system you should consider, especially if you're new to computing.
The Sun Moon Star is quite easy to set up. You'll find all the usual manuals and setup guides, but you also get an extremely helpful VHS videotape that walks you through the entire installation process.
The unit I reviewed came with 1MB of RAM, with room for up to 8MB on the motherboard. The system allows a flexible RAM configuration; you can populate with 256K chips, 1MB chips, or a combination of both. You can thus upgrade cost effectively and without using up one of your slots.
This computer has five slots: three 16-bit AT slots and two 8-bit XT slots. The AT-bus FDD/HDD controller card can handle up to two hard disks and two floppy drives, saving you money, because you don't have to buy an additional controller card. And it frees a slot for later expansion.
A fast (28ms), formatted 44MB hard disk comes with the unit, with DOS installed. In just a few minutes, I had the computer up and running.
You get a crisp, clear picture on the Sun Moon Star analog RGB monitor. The 256-color VGA graphics are very impressive, offering photographic-quality displays. I was disappointed that it wasn't possible to plug the monitor's power cord into the back of the computer. The setup video instructs you to plug it into the rear power connector, but it just doesn't fit.
This system comes with some useful software. CheckIt is a full-fledged PC diagnostic package that will check your system for software and hardware problems. GEM13 Desktop is an interactive user interface that allows you to run programs by pointing and clicking on icons. Draw Plus is a full-featured paint program. As you can see, there's plenty included to get you started.
I found no major design flaws in the Sun Moon Star, although there are a few things that I don't like. First, the keyboard doesn't have that springy, metallic click I've come to expect with most PC keyboards. I found the mouse too small for my liking and awkward to hold.
On the plus side, I found the Sun Moon Star an attractive computer. It's only 15 inches wide by 16 inches deep and about 7 inches tall. You won't lose any desktop space with this little computer. It operates very quietly and appears to be shielded very well, too. Nearly every computer brought into my house interferes with my television, but the Sun Moon Star doesn't.
Sun Moon Star offers an attractive three-year warranty, including six months of on-site service and six months of carry-in service. According to the company, there are more than 800 service centers nationwide.
RADIO SHACK A Division of Tandy 700 One Tandy Center Fort Worth, TX 76102
CPU Type: 8086; CPU Speed: 10 MHz
Conventional Memory: 512K; Expanded/Extended Memory: None
Ports: 1 serial, I parallel, 1 mouse, I game
Drives: 3 1/2-inch 720K floppy, 21 MB hard
Video Modes: text, CGA, Tandy 16-color
List Price: $999.90 with hard drive, $699.95 without hard drive
Street Price: 794.00 with hard drive, $499.00 without hard drive