(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.)
by -Marc Spiwak
Diamond Multimedia is known for computer hardware that's a cut above the rest. It's likely to hold on to that reputation, at least in the multimedia hardware arena. Diamond Multimedia is the only company to date that offers an 8X multimedia upgrade. That's right-the kit includes an 8X CD-ROM drive with an incomparable data-transfer speed.
The Diamond 8000 is relatively expensive (about $599). But you always pay a premium for the best performance, and the 8000 kit is the Ferrari of upgrades.
The kit installed easily in the test system. My only problem was that the IDE CD-ROM drive had to be controlled from the motherboard's IDE controller, because I could not get it to work off the included sound card's controller.
The Plug-and-Play sound card is a 16-bit wavetable model with 3-D sound built-in. Direct Sound Blaster support is provided in the hardware, so the card works with any game. And its Plug-and-Play installation was a breeze. Windows 95 recognized the card and automatically installed all the necessary drivers. A collection of six audio utilities, including Media Rack, is bundled with the upgrade kit, but the user must install this software separately. Various multimedia titles are also bundled, including Myst, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia for 1996, Rebel Assault, Magic Carpet and SimCity 2000.
The 8X drive transfers data at approximately 1.2MB per second, compared to 600KBps for a typical 4X drive. The faster drive does not really seek and access data any faster than a 4X, however. I obtained similar search results for both the 8X and 4X drives, in the neighborhood of 230 to 240 milliseconds. So in overall use, the 8X drive is probably twice as fast as a 4X only when you transfer large files. However, the 8X drive has a 256KB buffer, which is double the size of the buffer in Diamond's 4X drive.
I also ran a program that plays an .AVI file off a CD and counts the number of frames dropped. The 8X drive didn't drop any frames, but I haven't seen a 4X drive drop frames either, so this was no surprise.
I'd be happy to have the Diamond 8000 upgrade permanently installed in any Pentium I owned, because it's the best available.
Diamond Ultra Kit 8000
Pros: Data-transfer rate
WinMag Box Score 4.5
by Joel T. Patz
If you've always thought a 1200-dot-per-inch color flatbed scanner was out of your price range, think again. Primax Electronics' DeskScan Color scanner is a TWAIN-compliant, true-color unit that comes with software for inputting everything from single pages to business cards to photos. Best of all, it's only $399. No, that's not a misprint.
Installation is easy. The scanner comes with an 8-bit SCSI card that I installed in a Windows 95 machine (the scanner also works with Windows 3.x). Though Win95 didn't recognize the card as new, the simple installation program added its 16-bit driver through the CONFIG.SYS file. There was no IRQ setting to find and no jumper to fiddle with. You connect the scanner to the card with the supplied cable, turn on the power, run a setup program and you're in business.
The unit can handle 24-bit true color at resolutions up to 1200dpi. You can pre-scan an image, then crop the desired portion and do a final, slower scan at a higher resolution. It took me only a few minutes to scan a full 8.5-by-11-inch page in 1200dpi mode. You can scan larger originals in sections, then use the Finishing Touch software's stitching feature to connect the pieces electronically.
You can set the scan mode to color, gray scale (256 shades are supported), line art or halftone originals. The Finishing Touch program also lets you adjust resolution (from 300 to 1200 dpi), brightness, contrast and shadows, or add enhancement filters (to sharpen, blur, enhance edges or emboss) to your scan. You can zoom in on your original, invert, rotate, paint and save the image.
The DeskScan is compatible with CorelDRAW, Photoshop, PhotoStyler, ClarisWorks and other TWAIN-compliant applications. The package also includes a copy of Xerox's excellent TextBridge OCR software.
If crisp color scanning is what you're after, the DeskScan can deliver it for less money than you ever thought possible.
Primax DeskScan Color
Pros: Easy to use; can manipulate scanned documents quickly.
Cons: Cannot see full document in Preview mode.
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.x
WinMag Box Score 4.5
by James Alan Miller
MAG InnoVision's new DX17T monitor provides Trinitron sharpness and overall image quality at a value-line price. This monitor will help you ascend the challenging terrain presented by today's powerful PCs and applications.
The DX17T's image quality tested impressively in most categories in Sonera Technologies' DisplayMate testing suite. The Trinitron tube's tight 0.25-millimeter aperture pitch produced high sharpness and resolution scores. Geometric distortion was minimal, except for some slight irregularity and discoloration at the image's extreme right. Nevertheless, the monitor provided some of the best results I've seen on the regulation test, maintaining an image's integrity through sudden changes in brightness over high contrast areas.
The viewable area is reasonably large, measuring 16 inches. The bezel doesn't quite fit comfortably around it, leaving a narrow 0.125-inch wide black band surrounding the image. As much as this proves a distraction, it's a minor one.
The monitor supports 16 preset video modes and can store eight more. It supports vertical refresh rates up to 100Hz, achieves a maximum resolution of 1280x1024 pixels and can handle a resolution of 1024x768 at 75Hz. The Plug-and-Play compatible DX17T adheres to the Swedish MPR II radiation emissions, VESA DPMS power management standards and VESA's display data channel standard.
The DX17T doesn't include on-screen controls, which are now present on almost all new monitors. Hence you don't get the type of graphical and numeric feedback provided by on-screen solutions, although the DX17T's controls are easy to access and use.
Separated from the other controls, the thumb-dial brightness and contrast controls leave little room for adjustment. With both maximized, the screen's brightness is just about adequate, leaving plenty of room for dimmer but not brighter variation. The controls' range is good, with adjust-ments available for vertical and horizontal phase and position, pincushion distortion, trapezoidal distortion, rotation and-impressively-vertical and horizontal convergence. Other controls include standby (which shuts the monitor down from the front-the power switch is in back), user/preset and recall/program. Surprisingly, it lacks color tuning and color temperature controls, and there is no adjustment for moiré distortion. You do get, for $19.95, Sonnetech's Colorific color management software to ensure that your printed output colors match the on-screen colors.
The DX17T's low price and sharp image make this monitor a good choice for the budget-conscious consumer seeking a Trinitron monitor.
MAG InnoVision DX17T
Pros: Image; Trinitron tube
Cons: Brightness and contrast controls; small bezel; no on-screen controls
WinMag Box Score 3
by Joel T. Patz
NMB's ConcertMaster multimedia keyboard lets you conserve your desktop space and eliminate some of the wire maze required for separate speakers and keyboard. It combines a full Windows 95 keyboard with integrated speakers. Though the 2-watt, 2-inch speakers are less than 12 inches apart, they sound surprisingly good. The speakers have a frequency response of 50Hz to 20kHz and perform so well due in part to the built-in SRS 3-D stereo.
Setup is simple: The ConcertMaster connects to your system via a thick cable, which splits into plugs for your keyboard, sound card microphone jack and output jack, and the AC power source. The keyboard's main panel includes a built-in omnidirectional microphone. You'll also find auxiliary jacks for an external microphone, a powered subwoofer and a headset. You can play back sound using regular stereo or the SRS stereo. A mute button and volume control round out the controls. However, the unit lacks balance, bass and treble controls.
I've always enjoyed the touch of NMB keyboards, which have silent membrane switches for a crisp, responsive feel. The double-sized Backspace key, the Windows 95 keys, and the Ctrl and Alt keys are arranged in standard order. The keyboard itself is also pretty standard, measuring 18.5 by 9.6 inches.
The ConcertMaster includes a 1-year warranty and is compatible with Creative Labs Sound Blaster cards.
I tested the keyboard on a Dell Pentium 133c.
If you want to cut cable clutter and your desktop can't accommodate a separate pair of speakers, the NMB ConcertMaster is a good solution.
NMB ConcertMaster RT-9100W
Price: $129.95 (street)
Pros: Sound; keyboard quality
Cons: No tone controls
WinMag Box Score 4.5
by Michelle A. Tyrrell
WinBook Computer's new XP5 proves that a notebook can indeed have a standout design, loads of practical features, Pentium power and a low price tag. Similar in look and feel to its predecessor, the WinBook XP, this machine has the best design of any notebook I've tested.
The unit's active-matrix display measures a full 10.4 inches diagonally, with brightness and contrast controls located at the bottom of the screen. The Lexmark keyboard, with its 19.5mm spacing of the keys, is comfortable and well positioned, featuring a palm rest in front. You even have a choice of three pointing devices: The pointing stick, located between the G and H keys, is standard, but a touchpad ($79.99) and trackball ($29.95) are available and easily installed in the palm rest. Stereo speakers are located at the top of the screen, and an LCD indicator below the display keep tabs on system status information. The power switch and built-in microphone are also located below the screen.
The XP5 features a 75MHz Pentium processor and a lithium ion battery for superior battery life. It also ships standard with 16MB of RAM (upgradable to 32MB), an 810MB hard disk (upgradable to 1.3GB), an internal 14.4Kb-per-second voice/fax modem, 256KB of level 2 cache, 1MB of video RAM and a 32-bit local bus video accelerator. All this for an incredibly reasonable $2,999.
The left side of the unit contains a 1.44MB floppy drive, a phone jack, a PCMCIA compartment that accommodates two Type II cards or one Type III card, and audio in/out jacks. On the back you'll find a PS/2 connector, a docking station connector, and parallel, serial and VGA ports. If you need multimedia, check out the docking station with quad-speed CD-ROM drive ($399).
The XP5 measures 2 by 11.68 by 8.66 inches and weighs 6.2 pounds. It ships with Windows 95 and WinFax Lite software, plus spare covers for the pointing stick. The lithium ion battery is a tad lighter than its nickel metal hydride counterpart, and it lasted a full three hours with power management features turned on. It charged in about two hours.
The Pentium 75 processor is speedy-it blazed through the Word 7.0 macro in 31 seconds and the Excel benchmark test in 27 seconds. On our WINDOWS Magazine Wintune 95 benchmarks, the CPU scored 131MIPS uncached; hard disk throughput was 1.8MB per second, and the unit scored 4Mpixels per second on the video torture test.
With plenty of RAM, a large hard disk, a Pentium processor, an active-matrix screen and a price tag under three grand, the WinBook XP5 is certainly a bargain-and a force to be reckoned with.
Pros: Features; RAM; price
WinBook Computer Corp.
800-468-2162, fax 800-448-0308
WinMag Box Score 5
by John Perry
U.S. Robotics' Courier I-Modem offers many features that make it the perfect introduction into the ISDN age. Available as either an external or internal unit, this hybrid modem will quickly put you on the information highway at breakneck speed.
Its installation application helps determine which comm ports and IRQs are available and how to configure the board-if you're installing the internal unit I tested.
The configuration menu offers the three major switch types along with protocol version options for each. The Courier comes with ample documentation, including initialization strings for common communications packages.
Until ISDN modems become ubiquitous, though, the Courier's V.34 compatibility is a must for shipping around big files. Throw in an intelligent call-answering feature that allows the Courier to determine the type of connection being made, and you get quick, easy connections to anywhere.
Despite its many appealing features, dealing with multiple channel calls is not this unit's forte. Using both channels of a basic rate ISDN line al-lows most communications apps to choke the UART at 115.2Kbps.
The only other problem with the Courier is its lack of line activity indicators. But the Courier plays the dialing tones and busy signals when dialing, and the inactivity timer shuts the line down after a specified period.
The Courier gets top billing for ease of use, ease of installation and overall flexibility in communication. This modem neatly handles its primary job of putting you online immediately.
Price: $795 (internal), $895 (external)
Pros: Installation; ease of use; smart answering
Cons: Price; no bonding or Multilink support
WinMag Box Score 3.5
by James Alan Miller
Following the Beatles' advice to "get back to where you once belonged," Princeton Graphic Systems (PGS) reentered the monitor market in February last year. The company, acquired by MAG InnoVision in 1995, introduced the EO series of monitors, aimed at gaining footholds in the SOHO and corporate markets. I looked at the Plug-and-Play compatible EO15, a 15-inch model with a viewable area of 13.8 inches diagonally.
The monitor performed well on most tests in Sonera Technologies' DisplayMate testing suite, attaining good marks under the color convergence, sharpness and resolution, and pixel resolution categories. Moiré pattern interference appeared on some tests, however. The EO15 did especially poorly under the regulation tests. These tests illustrate a monitor's ability to preserve an image under varying brightness conditions. One complaint about the image involves a slightly annoying thin black band around the far right and bottom of the picture-the result of a bezel that isn't quite large enough for the CRT.
The EO15's bezel is one of the most attractive and modern-looking around. Five buttons constitute the simple controls; all, except degauss and power, appear on screen. You access the on-screen control list by selecting the Enter button, moving up and down the list by pressing either a plus or minus sign button.
The EO15 offers a commendable selection of controls for a 15-inch monitor, including horizontal and vertical size and position, brightness and contrast, and more specialized geometric options, such as side-pincushion distortion, rotation and trapezoidal distortion. You also get color adjustment controls, including color temperature (6500K or 9300K), as well as red gain and blue gain color tuning. Unfortunately, with the brightness and contrast controls maximized, the picture was just bright enough for me, leaving no further room for adjustment.
Thirteen preset modes cover the most common video settings, and the EO15 embraces any signal within a range of 40Hz to 120Hz vertical and 28kHz to 70kHz horizontal. The maximum resolution is 1280x1024 pixels at a 60Hz refresh rate; it can handle 1024x768 at 76Hz. This monitor complies with the VESA DPMS standard for power management and the Swedish MPR II radiation emission standard. The CRT has an Invar shadow mask with 0.28 millimeter dot pitch and an antistatic coated, nonglare, dark tinted flat square tube.
While the EO15 doesn't revolutionize the monitor market, it offers performance suitable for most desktops.
Princeton GraphicSystems EO15
Pros: Controls; design; color reproduction
Cons: Brightness and contrast controls; small bezel
Princeton Graphic Systems
WinMag Box Score 3.5
by Serdar Yegulalp
Each generation of SCSI controllers delivers more power and versatility to desktop computers. BusLogic's FlashPoint LT PCI Ultra SCSI controller pushes the envelope with features comparable to those of cards costing four times as much.
The FlashPoint LT complies with the newest standards for SCSI hardware, including Ultra SCSI (which ramps up transfers across the SCSI bus from 10MB per second to 20MBps) and SCAM. SCAM (SCSI configured auto-magically) hardware allows many device settings, including termination and device ID, to be controlled in software.
The card's kit version, available for $259, provides everything you need to get started: internal cables, software drivers, manuals and the FlashPoint Bonus Pac (which contains utilities like the Media Rack and McAfee Associates' Scan 95 virus protection software). Drivers are provided for Windows 95, 3.x and NT.
To install the PCI 2.1-compliant card, you simply find an open slot and connect the proper cables. After booting, the card's built-in AutoSCSI configuration firmware lets you modify every card setting on screen, including boot and spin-up parameters for attached devices. All the menus are clear and intuitive, with push-button, context-sensitive help available everywhere.
Installing drivers for Windows 95 (and NT) is uncomplicated. When Windows 95 is booted, it detects the adapter immediately. The manual clearly and thoroughly explains the installation and configuration process, and includes screenshots and diagrams.
BusLogic FlashPoint LT
Price: Kit, $259; adapter, $229
Pros: Power; price; installation
Cons: Features like SCAM don't have much compliant hardware
408-492-9090, fax 408-492-1542
WinMag Box Score 4.5
by James E. Powell
Good-looking, high-quality color is what you'll get from Canon's BJC-610. The BJC-610 produces up to 1.3 pages of output per minute, according to Canon. My average documents, with occasional color text, logos or charts, averaged about a minute choosing low-quality, 360x360-dot-per-inch resolution. This mode was perfectly acceptable for business correspondence. At the 720x720dpi setting, color graphics could take as long as 4 minutes.
The print head employs 256 nozzles, 64 each for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Because the printer uses separate ink cartridges for each of these colors, you don't have to waste your money replacing a single four-color cartridge when only one of the four colors is depleted.
The BJC-610 can handle plain or coated paper, card stock, high-gloss film and transparencies, and letter, legal, A4 and B5 paper sizes. You can load the sheet feeder with up to 100 pages, 50 transparencies or 15 envelopes, and adjust a lever to switch between envelopes and everything else.
The printer can also handle T-shirt transfers, cotton fabric and envelopes. Many hobbyists can use the BJC-610 to print patterns on fabrics for their latest craft projects. The printer also ships with the Canon Creative CD, which includes a variety of applications that can create stationery, greeting cards (Micrografx's Hallmark Connections Everyday Greetings program), stickers and labels, or patterns (for those fabric fanatics). The CD includes more than 300 TrueType fonts, 300 pieces of clip art and Micrografx's Crayola Art, an excellent drawing program for kids.
The BJC-610 uses the Windows Printing System, which sent shivers down my spine.
I tried using this with another Canon printer (the excellent LBP-460 monochrome laser printer) on my Gateway 2000 486/33, but it gave me fits. I could never get the WPS to work on a Windows 95 network, either.
I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I loaded the new WPS drivers shipping with the BJC-610. Not only did they work perfectly, but setup and operation on a Windows 95 peer-to-peer network was flawless.
Output quality is very good, though not as crisp as that of Hewlett-Packard's color DeskJet 660C. In particular, solid blacks were not as fully saturated.
The printer includes a two-year limited warranty, and the user guide fully documents the steps for successfully troubleshooting problems. However, the control panel's lights don't clearly explain what the problems are-you'll need to refer to the user guide to decipher the patterns.
Price: $549 (street)
Pros: Good print quality; individual color cartridges
Cons: Cryptic panel lights
Canon Computer Systems
WinMag Box Score 4.5
by Joel T. Patz
Once tools for graphics pros, scanners are quickly becoming mainline business machines. Combining the functionality of a fax, photocopier and scanner, Primax's PaperEase offers some helpful ease-of-use features.
The PaperEase connects to your system's parallel port via a module which provides the unit's electrical connection as well as the printer pass-through. Once you install the Softfile document management module and Xerox's TextBridge OCR software, you're ready to scan. Insert one page, or as many as 10, in the unit's document feeder, and scanning begins automatically. PaperEase completes one page in approximately 7 seconds in black-and-white mode and about 13 seconds in gray-scale mode. You choose to send your document to the desktop, copy or fax function.
During installation Softfile identifies programs already on your computer, such as a word processor, fax and mail function-you can add the ones the program doesn't recognize. It also establishes links that allow you to send a document to the application from the desktop. If you decide to print, PaperEase pops up a small dialog box that looks much like a copier's controls. If you drag documents to the Fax icon, your fax program's Send Fax dialog box appears. Scan a document, drag it to your word processor's icon and the OCR module starts.
You can scan documents in black and white or gray-scale with a maximum resolution of 600 dots per inch. It's possible to annotate the document once it's on the desktop.
The Paper-Ease doesn't take up much space. When scanning multiple pages, the PaperEase did not always pause between pages and sometimes scanned two pages as one. Also, the text in page view could have been sharper.
Pros: Space saver
Cons: Functionality; page view resolution; poor parallel port connector; printer pass-through
WinMag Box Score 3
Tight Pitch Produces Precise Picture
by Hailey Lynne McKeefry
I've never believed that a picture is worth a thousand words, but the CTX 17XA could change that. This 17-inch beauty, with its 0.25 millimeter aperture grille pitch and DiamondTron tube, brightened up my work space with its clean, sharp screen images and generally superior picture. Images remained clear and stable even to the screen's corners.
The CTX 17XA provides a 16-inch viewable area and more than adequate resolution. It supports resolutions of 640x480 at 60Hz to 75Hz, 800x600 at 56Hz to 75Hz, 1024x768 and 1280x1024 at 75Hz and 1600x1200 at 60Hz.
This monitor also boasts some must-have features. It's Plug-and-Play compatible, which made installation and setup a breeze. The on-screen display (OSD) proved intuitive and easy to use, and the tube's antiglare, antistatic and antireflection coatings further enhanced picture clarity.
The unit's overall design is elegant. At the bottom of the screen is a hidden control panel. Pressing lightly on the cover drops the panel open to reveal the membrane switch OSD controls. They cover an impressive array of functions and are extremely easy to use. The OSD uses color status bars, simple graphics and even a bit of animation to help you set up the display painlessly. There are switches for contrast, degauss, resetting the monitor's factory presets, exiting the OSD, status, color and geometry. The status contol lets you move the OSD anywhere on the screen, set the idle time after which the OSD will turn off, and enable or disable VESA DPMS. You also get information on the BNC or D15 signals, as the monitor accepts both types of connectors. The color control gives you information on color temperature and lets you adjust and save red, green and blue color settings. The geometry switch controls side pin- cushion, keystone and rotation as well as horizontal and vertical position, size and convergence. The monitor's front houses a brightness control and a large on/off button. The 17XA, which weighs 50 pounds and measures 17.2 by 16.5 by 18.5 inches, is no lightweight and takes up considerable desk space. On the positive side, it is mounted on a tilt-and-swivel base for easy adjustment.
The 17XA supports a number of Macintosh timing modes and handles scan frequencies from 30kHz to 85kHz horizontal and 50Hz to 120Hz vertical. It's compatible with the stringent Swedish MPR II radiation and emission standard as well as the newer and stricter TCO standard. The monitor can reduce power to even less than 5 watts.
Whether you are a graphic artist or desktop publisher dealing with images, or a word person like me, you'll appreciate the 17XA's clear colors and well-considered design.
Pros: Sharp picture
WinMag Box Score 4
by Hailey Lynne McKeefry
If you feel most at home with your road machine, then you'll love the Interlink DeskStick. This pointing device puts the familiar "pencil-eraser" joystick found mid-keyboard in many notebook computers squarely next to your desktop PC.
You control the 360-degree cursor movements by applying pressure to the miniature joystick, which is embedded in an oblong case with two large buttons on either side. I found that placing my palm on the palm rest allowed me to use thecursor comfortably with my middle finger, while operating the two buttons with my thumb and pinkie.
However, if you aren't used to this type of pointing device,learning to apply the pressure needed to control the cursor can take practice. I found highlighting a block of text especially difficult, since the scroll mechanism was extremely sensitive. Also, the buttons were easily activated if clutter on my desk pressed against the unit, sincethe buttons are about 1.5 inches wide and 4 inches long and reach to the far outer edges of the palm rest.
The symmetrical design should make this device equally comfortable for left-handed users. The unit occupies much less space than the traditional mouse and mousepad combination, suiting it for cluttered work spaces. The DeskStick comes with a serial connector and a PS/2 adapter. It is compatible with the Microsoft Mouse drivers, so I didn't need to install any software.
Pointing-device preference is a matter of style. If you're a road warrior at heart, the DeskStick will make you as comfortable at your desktop PC as you are with your notebook.
Pros: Conserves desk space
Cons: Requires practice
WinMag Box Score 3
By James Alan Miller
ViewSonic's 21-inch PT810 booms as it crashes through the barrier of monitor expectations. It incorporates a SonicTron aperture grille CRT with a large, 19.5-inch viewable area, making for a sharp display with rich colors throughout the screen. Aimed at the high end, it's ideal for desktop publishing and image processing.
The PT810 supports a maximum resolution of 1600x1280 pixels at a 73Hz refresh rate and can handle 1280x1024 resolution at 85Hz, making it easy on the eyes. The monitor employs a double dynamic focus system for finer control of the electron guns, a supercontrast screen incorporating special glass for lower transmission rates and ARAG, an antireflection/antiglare coating to refract light. Whatever the technical reasons for the premium screen imaging, any layperson can see they're right on target. Under Sonera Technologies' DisplayMate testing suite, the monitor achieved exceptional marks in every category. At worst, it fell off slightly under the geometric regulation tests, achieving a better score when the test focused on a narrower screen region.
A Plug-and-Play device, the PT810 seamlessly configures itself under Windows 95. There is an ample supply of modes, 13 preset and 19 user definable, and the monitor automatically tracks signals from 30kHz to 92kHz horizontal and 50Hz to 120Hz vertical. It adheres to the strict Swedish TCO standards-superior to MPR II and Energy Star-for reducing heat emissions, electromagnetic fields and power consumption, and is compatible with VESA DPMS and NUTEK. A front LED changes color depending on the PT810's power status. D-sub and BNC connectors are available in the rear, so you can attach two systems simultaneously.
Total screen control is possible with the superb OnView on-screen menu. Controls include brightness and contrast, vertical and horizontal position and size, pincushion distortion, trapezoid distortion, degauss, pin/balance, parallelogram distortion, rotate, moiré, horizontal and vertical convergence, color temperature (9300K, 6500K and 5500K), and red, green and blue tuning. Other selections let you enable or disable VESA DPMS, set one of two computers as a primary system, alternate between BNC and D-sub, select a language, change the OSD's position on the screen, and name and rename user defined settings.
The $2,495 price, though fair for a monitor of such exceptional quality, speeds it out of the average user's price range. Many don't need such a high-end display. Notwithstanding, those who require complete image control should jump into the cockpit and fly away.
-- Info File --
Pros: Image; controls
WinMag Box Score 4.5
By Hailey Lynne McKeefry
Sometimes, you don't have to be really big to pack a wallop. The CalComp DrawingSlate II provides a professional graphics tablet's functionality in a very affordable 0.68-pound package.
The tablet, which measures 7 by 7.3 inches, is under a half-inch thick and provides a 4- by 5-inch drawing area. The cordless, pressure-sensitive pen notes the pressure and the tilt that you apply, and varies the line width, color blend and opaqueness accordingly.
Installing the hardware was simply a matter of attaching the tablet into my PC's serial port. However, since I have had other tablets installed on my system, the software installation was problematic.
The installation program failed to detect and replace the older WinTAB drivers already in my system with the new ones, so I had to manually remove them.
Through a simple interface, I could set any of the 12 programmable buttons, as well as the two buttons on the pen. The software let me choose among a variety of predefined macros, such as right mouse click, double click, left mouse click and eraser. Other controls let me change the tracking mode, the pressure sensitivity and the input mode.
Once I started using the tablet, I found it intuitive. The pressure-sensitive pen made defining and manipulating the interface as easy as drawing within a graphics program.
Although professional graphics artists would want a larger canvas than the DrawingSlate II provides, this is an ideal solution if you want to add a tablet for occasional use to your pointing-device repertoire. If you need more digital real estate, 6- by 9-inch, 12- by 12-inch and 12- by 18-inch DrawingSlate II versions are also available.
-- Info File --
CalComp DrawingSlate II
Pros: Inexpensive; smooth
Cons: Software install
WinMag Box Score 3
Copyright © 1997 CMP Media Inc.