Feb 1996 Reviews

For a full listing of this month's reviews, click here.

(Editor's Note: The WinMag Box Score rates products on installation, usability, supporting materials, functionality, performance and utility. We use a 5-point scale:
1 poor, 2 fair, 3 good, 4 very good and 5 outstanding. A list of recommended desktop systems is at the end of the Reviews section; in future months, other hardware and software products will be added to the Recommended list.)

Connectix QuickCam

Have a Ball with Mini Camera

by: Rich Castagna

Bigger than a golf ball but too tiny for a game of tennis, QuickCam is a well-rounded camera that can keep an eye on you or your office and save what it sees as still pictures or movies.

QuickCam's cable hooks into your PC via its parallel port. A second, thinner wire runs from the camera's parallel attachment and connects between your keyboard's plug and socket. QuickCam sips the juice it needs from the keyboard connection.

Software installation is just as easy. QuickCam's two applications, QuickMovie and QuickPict, are basic programs for capturing images as .AVI movie or .BMP graphics files. The software is so easy to use that you probably won't have to refer to the 50-page manual.

Both programs let you tinker with their settings to fine-tune the quality of your captures. You are able to adjust the brightness, contrast and white balance for both stills and movies, as well as the size of the images. Adjustments are made with slider controls, and you can see the results of the new settings as you make them. You can also opt for quality or speed by selecting either 64 or 16 levels of gray tones.

The QuickMovie app can save and play back at rates as high as 15 frames per second (fps) when it records images at a resolution of 160x120 pixels, but it will creep along as slowly as 4fps if you increase the image size.

You can also manually adjust the capture rate by choosing Good (5fps), Better (10fps) or Best (15fps) from the Video Settings menu. Individual movie frames can be copied to the Clipboard for pasting into other applications.

Before you cry, "Lights! Camera! Action!" you might want to plug a mike into your sound card to add audio to your movies. Audio quality is also adjustable, with sampling rates that range from 8kHz to 44kHz.

The fixed-focus f/1.9 lens can focus on objects as close as 18 inches. The camera's field of view is about 65 degrees. It comes with a rubber base, but there's also an optional tripod mount that attaches to the bottom of the unit.

QuickCam is a bit too basic for serious digital artists, but it's a suitable low-cost alternative for videoconferencing and adding images to documents quickly--and it's great for just plain having fun.

--Info File--
Connectix QuickCam
$99 (street)
Pros: Size; price
Cons: Capture rate; image quality
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.x
Disk Space: 1MB (program only)
RAM: 4MB (stills), 8MB (movies)
800-950-5880, 415-571-5100
WinMag Box Score: 3.5

Panasonic KX-P6500

Tall Printer Is Strong, Silent Typer

by: Janice J. Chen

Talk about standing up to the competition--the new Panasonic KX-P6500 is head and shoulders above other printers in its price range. If I had known a year ago that I could get a 6-page-per-minute laser that prints at 1200 dots per inch for less than $500, I never would have purchased that old ink jet.

The KX-P6500's mini-tower design gives it a tiny footprint of 5.2 by 14.9 inches, which really saves on desktop real estate. With the paper tray in position, though, you will need about 12 inches for clearance.

The small size, combined with its peer-to-peer networking capabilities, makes this the perfect printer for a small office on a tight budget. The 100-sheet multipurpose input tray can handle letter, legal, A4 and executive paper sizes, as well as envelopes, transparencies and labels.

Setting up this printer took me all of five minutes. The user manual includes a Quick Start chapter that walks you through just about every step with clear directions and illustrations. I tested the printer under Windows 95, which made driver and utility installation even easier. Just plug in the printer, and Win95 will detect it and ask you to provide Panasonic's driver disk. Alternatively, you can run a setup routine or use Windows 95's Add Printer option.

The KX-P6500 uses Edge Enhancement Technology (EET) to achieve 1200dpi output--true resolution is 600x600dpi. In addition, the unit is optimized for printing under Windows and prints complex graphics faster by using Graphics Device Interface (GDI) mode.

This printer saves the green stuff in more ways than one. The toner cartridge is refillable, using a no-spill, all-in-one system. The toner bottles are even made of recycled plastic. The KX-P6500 is also Energy Star-compliant, powering down after 15 minutes of inactivity. And the sleep mode won't keep you from sleeping: The fanless unit is virtually silent.

Bi-directional communications provide interactive, on-screen status reports, and cleverly animated help windows provide aid when you need it.

--Info File--
Panasonic KX-P6500
$499 (street)
Pros: Low price; small footprint; ease of installation
Cons: Low-capacity paper tray
Panasonic Communications & Systems Co
.800-742-8086, 201-348-7000
WinMag Box Score: 5.0

Logitech PageScan Color

Feed This Color Scanner or Let It Crawl

by: Jim Forbes

Color scanners give companies the luxury of incorporating photographs and color logos into their business documents. Although many small businesses are now using the good, inexpensive color printers on the market, color scanners have remained out of reach--until now.

Logitech's PageScan Color has a 200x200-dot-per-inch maximum color resolution and a 400x400dpi maximum gray-scale (black-and-white) resolution. It works in 24-bit color and 8- or 1-bit gray-scale modes.

Connecting and installing this scanner is a breeze. I tested it under both Windows 95 and Windows 3.11, and installed it on three different systems. The longest setup time was 18 minutes. PageScan Color connects to your computer through its parallel port. It comes with a 7-foot connector cable, and a pass-through parallel connector so you can attach your printer and scanner to the same port.

Use this color scanner to import documents and images into your system, to copy documents (albeit slowly), or to fax documents (providing your system has a fax modem).

PageScan Color ships with an optical character recognition program, a scanning program, a document-management application and an image-editing program. Because this is a TWAIN-compliant device, simply insert a document into the scanner to begin scanning from within most Windows applications.

PageScan Color uses a top-loading paper path. If you need to scan an image from a book, Page-Scan Color can be removed from its bed and placed over the document. The scanner then crawls over the document with a tractor mechanism. Crawling across a book, it looks a bit like one of the toy tanks in a Godzilla movie.

Logitech's PageScan Color scanner is extremely versatile and powerful enough to handle most small-business or at-home scanning applications. At long last, a prospective client's logo can be reproduced--easily!--in a proposal from a small or even a one-person firm. Now, the little guys can look a bit more like the big ones.

--Info File--Logitech PageScan ColorPrice: $399Pros: Ease of useCons: Low 200dpi maximum color resolutionPlatforms: Windows 95, 3.xDisk Space: 12MBRAM: 8MBLogitech510-795-8500, fax 510-792-8901WinMag Box Score: 4.5

Mitsumi ZW 104 Keyboard and Wireless Mouse

Win95 Keyboard Unwrapped, Mouse Untrapped

by: Jim Forbes

A bad keyboard or a bad mouse can ruin an otherwise pleasant computing experience. That's why I always enjoy taking a look at worthy replacements, such as Mitsumi's ZW 104 Keyboard and Wireless Mouse.

The ZW 104 is inexpensive at around $35, and should sell for even less by the time you read this. I liked the unit's sculpted design and the feel of its low-maintenance membrane key switches. The ZW 104 comes with a 6-foot cable and three special keys that should help new Windows 95 users become more productive. One of the keys helps users with task switching and calling menus; the other two control applications.

The two-button mouse can scurry up to three feet from its cradle, which connects to a serial port. This mouse worked well on both Windows 3.x and Win 95 machines. Installation took less than 10 minutes on either platform.

The unit has a maximum resolution of 400dpi and comes with a lithium ion battery, which the maker says will power it for three years. I liked the feel of this mouse--it was quite comfortable in my hand--and I xhad no difficulty putting the cursor where I wanted it.

I did have some difficulty installing the Wireless Mouse on older notebooks. But if you're looking for a desktop mouse replacement, this is one critter that won't fritter away your time.

--Info File--
Mitsumi ZW 104 Keyboard
Pros: Inexpensive; easy installation
Cons: New keys must be learned
Mitsumi Electronics Corp.
800-MITSUMI, 214-550-7300
WinMag Box Score: 3.5

--Info File--
Mitsumi Wireless Mouse
Pros: Rids desk of wire
Cons: Battery must be replaced
Mitsumi Electronics Corp.
800-MITSUMI, 214-550-7300
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

Zenith Z-Note MX

Heavy Duty, with a Light Touch

by: Jim Forbes

Zenith creates systems that are built like tanks but run like Swiss watches. Its new Z-Note MX raises the bar for value and functionality in Pentium-based notebooks.

The Z-Note MX comes with a 75MHz Pentium processor and the usual set of external ports (Super VGA video, serial, parallel, PS/2, two vertically stacked Type II PCMCIA slots and a docking station connector). You have a choice of either a dual-scan passive-matrix or an active-matrix color screen, each measuring 10.4 inches diagonally. The notebook's video sub- system uses a 32-bit PCI-based graphics accelerator, and its 3.5-inch floppy drive is located on the right-hand side. The system comes standard with 8MB of RAM, but the unit I tested had 16MB of memory, an 810MB IDE hard drive and the passive-matrix display.

The Z-Note MX integrates its palm rest with its trackpad pointing device. I like the keyboard Zenith uses on its notebooks, although the layout has nonstandard symbols for the End and Home keys. Function keys control system attributes such as screen contrast, speaker volume, brightness and power-conservation settings.

A small LCD display is mounted on the hinge, and the sound subsystem is Sound Blaster Pro-compatible.

I was able to get about 1.3 hours' use from the notebook's battery with only minimal power-management settings. With these settings moved to the Advanced mode, I got about 1.5 hours. Recharges took about 1.5 hours with the machine turned off. The power supply is about the size of a small external floppy drive, and it uses a thin cord about 4 feet long. The unit's overall weight, including the power supply, is less than 6.2 pounds, and it measures just 1.9 by 11.1 by 8.7 inches.

The Z-Note MX rang up an average of 137.67MIPS on our WINDOWS Magazine Wintune 95 benchmarks. Its graphics subsystem churned out an average of 4.27Mpixels per second, and its 810MB disk subsystem had uncached throughput of 2.87MB per second. Our 32-bit Excel 7.0 and Word 7.0 macros executed in 103.33 and 44 seconds, respectively.

Zenith's use of online help, plus the inclusion of a basic software bundle featuring remote diagnostics and Netscape, were especially nice touches. The Z-Note MX is a strong, affordable performer from a reputable and well-known manufacturer.

--Info File--
Zenith Z-Note MX
Pros: Durability; fast hard disk
Cons: Nonstandard symbols for End and Home keys
Zenith Data Systems
800-533-0331, 708-808-5000
WinMag Box Score: 4.5

Zebra Technologies Barcode Anything

Smart Label Maker Shows Its Stripes

by: Joel T. Patz

Zebra Technologies' Barcode Anything offers an economical solution to small businesses' labeling, scanning and tracking requirements. Best of all, you can be up and running in less than a half-hour.

The package comes with a Hewlett-Packard scanning wand that plugs into your computer's serial port. The program is designed for Windows 3.1 or later, but it worked just fine under Windows 95.

You can select any of 19 bar-code types. The wand can scan data into any application, from word processors to spreadsheets.

The program's LABEL utility lets you create labels in a variety of formats. You can add text, graphics, lines,boxes, and define fields for merging with ASCII file data or ODBC-compliant databases. Creating an automatically serialized bar-code field from the same sources is easy, or you can enter new information from the keyboard at print time. Different bar-code types can be included in the label, including Postnet. You can choose from nine label templates for badges, address and shipping labels, and envelopes, and each template can be customized or you can create your own. You can specify font type, point size, effects and color, and add bitmaps to the design.

If you're interested in keeping track of items, documents or fixed assets, the TRACK feature will put you ahead of the game. Templates for inventory, time and attendance, capital asset management and parcel tracking are just a few of those available.

This production-oriented business utility is a package that proudly displays its stripes.

--Info File--
Zebra Technologies Barcode Anything
Pros: Easy installation; versatile
Cons: No 32-bit driver
Platforms: Windows 3.1, 95
Disk Space: 15MB
Zebra Technologies VTI
801-576-9700, 800-477-5589
WinMag Box Score: 5.0

Spira 2.0

The ABC's of CD-R

by: James E. Powell

Owning a CD-Recordable device has always meant dealing with obtuse CD-R software. Usually, you have to go through elaborate "staging" or "premastering" steps to get files onto the CD. With Spira 2.0, using your CD-R device is as easy as using a standard hard drive. There's no special setup and no disk space to calculate; your CD-R looks just like another drive in File Manager. All you have to do is drag files to the File Manager's CD-R icon and they're copied. There are drawbacks, though: At present, Spira works only with Windows 3.1, though a Windows 95 version is in the works.

What Spira actually does is write files to a cache area on your hard disk. When the hard disk fills up, Spira triggers Windows to write to the CD-R. Spira also comes with CD Manager, a simple utility that labels your CD-ROMs and controls the CD-R unit. For example, it replaces your CD-R's eject button with its own "virtual" eject button. Clicking on it triggers a write to the CD-R if you've changed any files. Spira handles this transparently. What it displays is a merge of files on the CD-ROM and those in the hard disk cache area.

So what you see in File Manager is really a preview of the files that will be on the CD-R after a "write" has occurred. Version 2.0's file recovery support ensures the integrity of files and directories in the unfortunate event of a power failure.

Spira requires an ASPI Manager for DOS (loaded in the CONFIG.SYS file) and an ASPI Manager for Windows (usually two files in your Windows System directory). I tested Spira with a Yamaha CDE100 CD-R drive using its 2X writing speed, though Spira's CD Manager let me choose a setting for the CDE's 4X capability. Spira supports a handful of drives, including the Yamaha and Philips, Pioneer, Ricoh and Sony units, and more are planned.

There's virtually no overhead from Spira, but there are some limitations. For example, you'll have to turn 32-bit disk and file access off. The cache requires a minimum of 25MB of contiguous hard disk space.

Spira is, in a word, transparent. If you want to get rid of those time-consuming staging applications, Spira's one way to go.

--Info File--
Spira 2.0
Pros: Near transparent operation
Cons: No Win95 version yet
Platforms: Windows 3.1
Disk Space: 25MB
RAM: 4MBMoniker
800-213-8661, 408-439-0712
WinMag Box Score: 4.5

Maxi Switch Maxi Sound

Soundat Your Fingertips

by: Jim Forbes

Developed jointly by Maxi Switch and Altec Lansing, the Maxi Sound multimedia keyboard combines a 101-key keyboard with a pair of nice sounding Altec Lansing speakers.

As a keyboard, the Maxi Sound is only fair. The keys' tactile response is a bit on the mushy side. There are adjustable legs to control the degree of tilt.

A slider switch on the right-hand side lets you adjust the volume but not the balance of the stereo sound. Also built into the right-hand side are jacks for an external microphone and headphones. The Maxi Sound's 6-foot keyboard cable includes wires for the speakers, keyboard and power cable.

An omnidirectional microphone is included. While it's convenient, I was not impressed with the captured sound quality.

The speakers have a respectable 120Hz to 15kHz range, and their volume isn't loud enough to cause noticeable distortion. A sound equalization circuit, which serves to enhance stereo music quality, is built in.

Other products on the market include 3-D sound, but this feature is not included in the Maxi Sound.

I tested this keyboard with a variety of Windows 3.x and 95 desktop and notebook computers and had no difficulty installing it or using it to listen to music CDs. The quality of the sound was surprisingly good. In fact, it's so good that I suggest you take a long look at this near $80 peripheral. And, if you can control sound balance from your computer and don't require this as a keyboard feature, the Maxi Sound could be for you.

--Info Files--
Maxi Switch Maxi Sound
$79 (street)
Pros: Good sound quality
Cons: No stereo balance control; mediocre microphone
Maxi Switch
520-746-9378, fax 520-741-9184

Boca Research SoundExpression 28.8 SRS

Modem Is a Sound Choice

by Sara G. Stephens

Boca Research continues to barrel ahead in the aggressive, keep-up-with-the-Joneses modem market. With its last two products, the company has managed to stay abreast of the state-of-the-art competition by bundling an integrated suite of voice mail and fax solutions. In addition, the 14.4Kb-per-second Boca Research Multimedia Voice Modem, launched last summer, outpaced the company's competitors by being the first modem to support Radish Communications' VoiceView (First Impres-sions, September 1995).

You'll find a new crop of acronyms in the SoundExpression 28.8 SRS. With its support of SRS (Sound Retrieval System), this modem yields "three-dimensional" audio from any source. The SVD version, which I did not test, supports DSVD (Digital Simultaneous Voice and Data), meaning you can talk on the phone while sharing modem applications with whoever's on the other end. All this happens over a single standard telephone line.

The SoundExpression installed without a hitch, though the installation and configuration utility is a DOS application. The hardware includes an integrated sound controller compatible with Creative Labs' Sound Blaster Pro, Ad Lib and Windows' Sound System. The 28.8Kbps fax/voice modem achieves sample rates up to 44.1KHz--compact disc-quality digital sound--and is compatible with Class 1&2/Group 3 14.4Kbps send/receive fax. It offers V.42 error control and V.42bis data compression.

A software-enabled IDE CD-ROM interface lets you put SoundExpression to work for your multimedia PC applications as well.

A full-duplex speakerphone further enhances the SoundExpression's suitability for office communications. The speakerphone works in sync with a fine suite of voice mail and fax-on-demand applications that mimic the capabilities of small standalone systems that were on the market less than a year ago. The product also ships with VoiceView TalkShop software, an RJ-11 telephone cable with splitter and a CD-ROM containing free trial offers for Internet and online services.

Technical support options, though usually not necessary in my experience, come in several forms with the SoundExpression: a local dial-up number, CompuServe, e-mail, World Wide Web, BBS, 900 number (for priority calls at the rate of $2 a minute), fax and fax-on-demand.

-- Info File --
Boca Research SoundExpression 28.8 SRS
Pros: Feature-rich
Cons: DOS installation
Platforms: Windows 3.1, 95
Boca Research
407-997-6227, fax 407-997-0918
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

ADI MicroScan 17X

Monitor with a Twist

by: Michelle A Tyrrell

For a different perspective from your monitor, check out the MicroScan 17X from ADI. It physically rotates from landscape to portrait orientation, making page layout easier and delivering the big picture for oversize documents.

Be prepared to clear a path for this monitor: In landscape mode, it measures 18.62 by 17.55 by 17.91 inches; in portrait mode, it's 19.68 by 15.66 by 17.91 inches. And make sure you've got a sturdy desk; the MicroScan 17X weighs nearly 45 pounds. Its curved bezel sports 16 controls including power, brightness/contrast, horizontal/vertical size and position, pincushion, trapezium, tilt and degauss. Combined-function buttons are also included for geometry, vertical linearity, S-correction and white-point color settings.

Switching from landscape to portrait mode was easy. I clicked the WinPortrait icon at the bottom of the screen, pressed the degaussing button, and I was in business with a full-page view of my document. While the portrait view gives you a full-size single page layout, the ability to switch back to landscape view for a two-page spread can be of enormous value. For graphic designers who work with a variety of print formats, the monitor can swivel as quickly as you can change projects. The same is true for corporate users who deal with both spreadsheets and correspondence.

The MicroScan 17X has a 0.28mm-dot-pitch screen, and a maximum non-interlaced resolution of 1280x1024 pixels at 60Hz and 1024x768 pixels at 75Hz. The flat, square tube with Invar shadow mask and dark-tinted, anti-glare, anti-reflection glass is easy on the eyes and provides crisp color images.

This monitor's $959 price tag is quite reasonable, considering the unit's flexibility. The MicroScan 17X will give you the big picture and, maybe, a whole new outlook.

-- Info File --
ADI MicroScan 17X
Pros: Versatile
Cons: Big and heavy
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1, NT, OS/2
ADI Systems
408-944-0100, fax 408-944-0300
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

Canon Innova Book 350CD

"G" as in Good Value, Not Gee-Whiz

by: Jim Forbes

Canon is better known for quality ink jet and laser printers than it is for personal computers. The company is now introducing a line of note- books aimed at the mass market.

The Innova Book 350CD is a "value line" machine that doesn't include the latest processor technology or other whizbangs, but nevertheless delivers good value and reasonable performance.

The Innova Book 350CD I evaluated was a preproduction machine built with production-level components. These include a 10.4-inch dual-scan screen, 1MB of video memory with a graphics accelerator, 8MB of RAM, a 540MB hard disk and on-board support of 16-bit stereo sound. It also has a self-contained infrared transceiver, two vertically stacked Type II PCMCIA slots, a full complement of external ports including a docking station and Super VGA adapter, and a 100MHz Cyrix 5x86 processor.

There's also a dual-speed CD-ROM drive that fits into the same bay on the right-hand side of the machine as does the 3.5-inch floppy disk drive. Windows 95, Sidekick 95, the Official Airlines Guide and a variety of communications programs are preinstalled.

The 350CD uses a keyboard-forward design with integrated palm rest. You control the cursor with a touchpad. The keyboard feels firm and the keys have a short throw. The trackpad is difficult to master, though. Of course, until you get accustomed to it, using any trackpad can be a frustrating experience.

The 10.4-inch dual-scan passive-matrix screen was quite good. As is common on dual-scan passive matrix screens, though, there was some ghosting at the edges of strong rectangular shapes that continued the line of their edges across the screen. When not in use, the CD-ROM drive fits in a case that came with the system.

The battery life--between 1.7 and 1.9 hours--was short but usable. Battery monitoring software is included.

The 486-class processor clocked in with 113MIPs and 35MFLOPs. Its video subsystem churned out 3.8Mpixels per second and its hard disk had an uncached throughput of 1.5MB per second. It executed our 32-bit Word 7.0 and Excel 7.0 macros in 66.33 seconds and 85.67 seconds, respectively. These results are consistent with other notebooks equipped with 75MHz Intel DX4 processors, and match the results we've had with other notebooks powered by the Cyrix 5x86 chip. Canon offers a one-year roadside warranty.

--Info File--
Canon Innova Book 350CD
As configured, $3,249
Pros: Infrared transceiver; keyboard
Cons: Trackpad difficult to master
Canon Computer Systems
800-848-4123, 714-438-3000
WinMag Box Score: 3.5

TI microLaserWIN/4

Laser Is Almost Automatic

by: Jim Forbes

Designed to fit on a small- or home-office desktop, the TI microLaser Win/4 printer offers great resolution and acceptable throughput. It runs under a Windows environment with at least 8MB of RAM.

This printer takes up less than one square foot of desktop space and is only 8 inches high. The paper tray holds up to 100 sheets of 8.5- by 11-inch, legal or A4 size paper. Printing envelopes with the Win/4 is easy.

The Win/4 has a maximum resolution of 600x600 dots per inch and a throughput of 4 pages per minute. Both text and graphic output look great.

There are two consumables: an imaging cartridge (2,000-page life), and a drum cartridge (20,000 pages). You access the cartridges easily from the front of the unit. There is no power switch. Like some HP LaserJets, you plug it in and it turns itself on when it's needed.

In my testing, the Win/4 initially stumbled where it should have excelled. It works under Windows 95 and carries a Win95 compatible logo, but it didn't work using the shrink-wrapped drivers. TI resolved this problem by developing a new driver that worked flawlessly. By the time you read this, the new driver should be included in the box.

Once properly installed, the microLaserWin/4 integrated perfectly with Windows 95. For example, its driver added an icon to the status bar at the lower right corner of the screen to indicate the printer's active state. Naturally, the drive also informs you of paper jams, out-of-paper conditions and so on. This is about as close as it gets to automated printing.

-- Info File --
TI microLaserWin/4
Pros: Inexpensive, professional output
Cons: Early drivers
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.x, NT
Texas Instruments
800-848-3927, 817-771-5856 (tech)
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

EXP CD-421 Portable CD-ROM Drive

Take This 4X Drive for a Drive

by: Jim Forbes

Not everyone who has a notebook computer needs a CD-ROM drive, but there are times when having one makes a big difference.

For example, it greatly simplifies installing programs, and it gives you access to the growing library of reference materials on CD-ROM. Some users may want one simply to play games.

The EXP CD-421 offers one solution. It's a portable quad-speed CD-ROM drive for note-book computers that weighs slightly more than three pounds and measures 1.9 by 6.4 by 9.6 inches, meaning it fits neatly into a side pocket in most notebook carrying cases. The CD-421 at-taches to your computer via a PCMCIA card. All three notebooks I used to test this drive instantly recognized its card.

The DOS-based installation program allows you to specify an IRQ and a hex address. I first attempted to install this peripheral on a notebook that runs Windows 3.1. The notebook did not have clean AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files, and the installation failed. You know the drill: REM out each line, one at a time, of the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files until you identify the minimum lines necessary for everything to work correctly on the configuration you want. Then delete the unnecessary lines. After I cleaned up the files, installation took less than five minutes.

The CD-421 can draw its juice from either a portable power supply that plugs into a wall socket or from eight AA batteries. If you plan on using batteries, carry a spare set with you.

I'm accustomed to dual-speed CD-ROM drives, so I found this 4X device to be quick indeed; loading software and running CD-ROM-based content was a snap.

Now, the bad news: I tried to test the CD-421 on several notebooks running Windows 95 and was unable to get it to work, despite repeated efforts. Based on that experience, I cannot recommend this peripheral for Win95 users.

If you're looking to upgrade your notebook and are still running Windows 3.x, you should consider the CD-421. Keep in mind, though, that the price of notebooks equipped with CD-ROM drives is falling through the basement, so now that the holiday rush is over, you may want to buy a whole new machine. There are other alternatives, though, such as the various parallel-port portable CD-ROM drives. Another possibility is an external SCSI drive.

--Info Files--
EXP CD-421 Portable CD-ROM Drive
Pros: Small; portable
Cons: Won't run under Windows 95
Platforms: Windows 3.x
EXP Computer
800-EXP-6922, 714-453-1020
WinMag Box Score: 2.0