Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 157 / OCTOBER 1993 / PAGE 104


Portable computers are cramming more of the functionality of their desktop counterparts into their slim cases every day—you can now get a screaming-fast 486DX2 color notebook with a huge hard drive if that's what you need. But if you're like me, you leave the desktop publishing and national-debt balancing back at the office and use your road machine primarily for writing and communications. If having a little space left in your briefcase is more important than hypersonic performance, Gateway 2000's little Handbook may be your ticket to portable productivity.

Measuring 9.8 × 5.9 × 1.4 inches and weighing only 2.75 pounds with its battery, the Handbook is small enough and light enough to take along just about anywhere, but it's large enough to comfortably touch-type on. The 10-MHz Chips and Technologies 8680 “PC on a Chip” processor gives the Handbook 286-class performance, and the backlit double-scan 640 × 400 CGA display is fine for most MS-DOS applications. The 8680 processor doesn't fully emulate a 286 chip (it's actually an enhanced 80186 clone), so you can't run Windows 3.1 on the Handbook.

Shipped with 1MB of RAM, the Handbook is expandable to 3MB, which can be configured as extended or expanded memory. I found the Handbook's 40MB hard drive much easier to work with than the PCMCIA RAM cards used for storage by many computers in this size class. There's no built-in floppy drive, but an external 1.44MB floppy drive that also sports a second serial port and a full-size parallel port is available as an option. The back of the Handbook has a 9-pin serial port and a custom mini parallel connector (an adapter is included that converts it to a full-size port).

Battery life is good, at 2.5 hours with power saving disabled and nearly 4 hours with it enabled. The battery is literally a snap to remove and replace, and a special pack is available that will let you use AA batteries in a pinch. When you turn the Handbook off, it actually goes into a suspend mode, so when you turn it back on you're right where left off.

The almost full-size keyboard is remarkably easy to type on for a computer this small, but some Handbook owners won't like the fact that the Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down functions require you to hit an Fn key and a cursor key. Although the screen is only CGA, it's very sharp; I had no complaints when running DOS applications.

The Norton Speedcache+ 4.0. which supports CD-ROM drives as well as hard disks, includes a Windows control interface.

Bundled with your choice of MS Works 2.0 or WordPerfect for DOS, the Handbook is a superb value for those who need to do basic work and have a heavy-duty PC on the desk at home or at the office. And it's so light and small that I don't leave home without it. And if you do need to run Windows apps on the road, Gateway is about to ship the Hand-book486, a 486SX version with a VGA display, Windows 3.1, PCMCIA Type II slot, and pointing stick that will start at $1495.


Gateway 2000

(800) 846-2059


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