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April 1996 Reviews

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Top What's Hot! PerfectOffice 7 HP OmniBook 5000 CTS 5/120 Sys Performance Pro 200

What's Hot!

PerfectOffice 7

HP OmniBook P120

System Technologies 200MHz P6

(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.)

Top What's Hot! PerfectOffice 7 HP OmniBook 5000 CTS 5/120 Sys Performance Pro 200

PerfectOffice 7

Corel Antes Up for Win95 Suite Stakes

By James E. Powell, Northwest Bureau Editor

Corel has delivered a real Windows 95 office suite. PerfectOffice 7's new applications bring the suite up to true Win95 look and feel, adding a few innovative features and Netscape 2.0 in the process.

PerfectOffice's developers revised the Desktop Application Director (DAD), turning it into a taskbar that provides fast access to its own applications or any you add. It launches macros, remembers used files or fires up an Internet browser.

My favorite new feature, Save My Place, remembers all open documents and your position within each. Save your current session, then reopen it; you're back right where you left off.

Consistency is key in the new suite. Besides common toolbars and buttons (most noticeable in the new Quattro Pro), "The PerfectExpert," PerfectOffice's plain-English answer to Microsoft Answer Wizard, offers context-sensitive help throughout the suite. PerfectOffice's cross-application macro language means you can develop macros that build a chart, import it to a WordPerfect document and print the results.

There are new file formats for every application except Presentations, although you can save files to previous versions. All let you save in Envoy, a universal document viewing standard, which adds support for URL links as well as links to other Envoy-published documents.


The first thing I noticed about WordPerfect was the vertical blue dotted lines that indicate margins. They clearly show indented text's relation to the margin, saving valuable screen real estate usually occupied by a ruler bar.

Several new features match the competition's: Small red slashes appear underneath misspelled words as you type, with suggestions appearing when you click the right mouse button. The program now converts fractions (such as 1/2) into the real thing (1/2) as you type, and 1st turns into 1st automatically. The Automatic Caps Lock correction feature changes mISTAKES into Mistakes.

WordPerfect also blazes the way with a few features. There's a new page numbering option, for example, that automatically adds "Page X of Y" to documents. Developers have expanded WordPerfect's list of last-used selections to include fonts, which now display in the actual face, size and color.

A small gray formatting square appears throughout documents.Click on one, and you'll find context-sensitive formatting buttons. A light gray cursor indicates where a mouse click would position the cursor; I found it particularly helpful for text insertions.

There are some new commands, but you don't have to use them if you prefer the old familiar ones. For instance, I'm used to browsing Document Information by pressing Alt+F and then the I key, but now that sequence opens WordPerfect's new Internet HTML window. I'm glad the new WordPerfect can revert to previous menu and keyboard commands so I can use what I've already learned.

Quattro Pro

Although Quattro Pro now includes 100 new "@" functions such as array lookup, nestable subtotals and rounding down, most of the spreadsheet remains unchanged.

A few notable improvements: The program now supports spreadsheet templates, which let you change data but not the underlying format and layout of a spreadsheet. A much-needed editable toolbar has been added, plus support for JPEG and WPG graphics file formats. Quattro Pro notebooks can be embedded in a Lotus Notes field. The program also lets you graph data geographically through a toolbar button. Best of all, you now can hot-link data to an Internet site and publish your spreadsheet as an HTML table.


You also can set up Internet links from within a Presentations slide show. Presentations has caught up to PowerPoint and now supports text and object animation. For instance, you can animate bulleted lists.

There is no animation support for charts, however, as there is in Gold Disk's Astound. A new Org Chart slide lets you move boxes and text, but it wasn't fully operational in my beta copy.


I won't call InfoCentral a PIM, though it does almost everything a PIM can handle, from storing names and addresses to reminding you of appointments. The program links data so you can view it from different perspectives. Though several categories are already set up, I especially appreciated the ability to add fields (such as a Spouse's Birthday field) to a category skeleton.

The program supports Caller ID, and you can synchronize InfoCentral's calendars with GroupWise, Novell's popular mail and workgroup scheduling application.

Some new features aren't intuitive. I couldn't figure out how to view QuickNotes, electronic "sticky notes" that you can connect to any object. And InfoCentral has such a high learning curve that I can't recommend it. This product cries out for Wizards and more effective documentation.

My beta copy was missing several crucial features, including a promised universal File Open dialog box. I never discovered explanations for creating your own @ functions in Quattro Pro, and the spell checker didn't work properly. Still, there's enough here to induce a dyed-in-the-wool WordPerfect user like me to upgrade.

For all its strong points, I'm not sure PerfectOffice offers a compelling reason to switch if you're happy with a competing suite. Lotus and Microsoft offer powerful inducements that this new collection will be hard-pressed to overcome.

-- Info File --
PerfectOffice 7
Not set at press time
Pros: Cross-application macros
Cons: No compelling reason to switch suites
Platforms: Windows 95, NT
Corel Corp.
800-451-5151, 801-226-6800
WinMag Box Score: 4

Top What's Hot! PerfectOffice 7 HP OmniBook 5000 CTS 5/120 Sys Performance Pro 200

HP OmniBook 5000 CTS 5/120

Omnipotent Pentium Portable

By James Alan Miller

The power to gather and quickly manipulate information can determine whether you surge ahead or fall behind in today's mile-a-minute business world. Hewlett-Packard's OmniBook 5000 CTS 5/120 can serve as an essential companion in your race to beat the competition.

The 5/120's 120MHz Pentium processor, 256KB of external cache, 16MB of RAM (expandable to 64MB), 16-bit Creative Labs Sound Blaster-compatible sound system and 1.2GB hard drive make this a notebook to be reckoned with. When you consider its powerful 32-bit PCI bus architecture and built-in SCSI-2 capabilities, you begin to realize just how powerful this system is. Other features include a lightweight, long-life lithium ion battery and the option to remove the floppy disk drive so you can add a second battery.

One of the first things you notice about the 5/120 is its fantastic 10.4-inch SVGA active-matrix color display. Other characteristics of the PCI video subsystem include 1.5MB of video memory and two external video ports. The 5/120 supports external video modes of 640x480 pixels up to 65,536 colors as well as 800x600 pixels and 1024x768 pixels up to 256 colors. The unit also includes an NTSC/PAL video-out port for connecting to TVs and VCRs.

There are plenty of other ports, too: SCSI-2, serial, PS/2 mouse/keyboard and the docking station connector. The system comes bundled with a Y-adapter for the PS/2 port that lets you plug a mouse and keyboard in simultaneously. The parallel port is on the left side, while ports for the sound system are located below the PC Card slots on the right. The PC Card slots can handle either two Type II PC Cards or one Type III.

The audio jacks include those for headphone/stereo-out, stereo-in, microphone and MIDI/joystick. The remainder of the sound system comprises two built-in speakers and a built-in microphone. The speakers are situated to either side of a trackball, toward the case's outer edges. The microphone is located just to the left of a small LCD panel. Sound quality is surprisingly full considering speaker size.

The trackball and its two large buttons conveniently sit below the spacebar. As trackballs go, it's easy to use, though I find trackballs require too much maintenance. The small LCD panel serves as a lifeline between you and the 5/120. Through the use of icons, you get the status of various system functions, including the battery's energy level, whether it's charging and how many batteries are installed. Other icons give information on hard and floppy disk drive accesses, PC slot status, and the status of the Caps, Num and Scroll locks. A bookmark icon emerges when the system shuts down, holding your place so you can pick up working where you left off.

The 5/120 incorporates Advanced Power Management to handle battery usage and charging. For instance, the system shuts down and saves your work when battery power gets dangerously low. The system returns to its previous state when you either install a charged battery or plug in the AC adapter. A thoughtfully placed LED between the floppy disk drive and battery displays charging information that's visible even when the notebook is closed.

The large, ergonomic keyboard provides ample feedback and even has a wrist rest. You access an embedded numeric keypad by pressing the Num Lock key, while a gold function key marked FN in the bottom left corner accesses specialized utilities. These utilities include volume control, switching between the display and an external monitor, saving your work to diskette and entering the BIOS. The SystemSoft BIOS appears fairly complete and easy to maneuver compared to some BIOSes found in other notebooks. Unfortunately, ECP or EPP parallel port settings aren't available, as the only choices are bidirectional (PS/2) and standard AT (Centronics). You would think a system this powerful would include a parallel port with those levels.

Overall performance is impressive for a notebook. On our 32-bit WINDOWS Magazine Wintune benchmarks, the 5/120 earned scores of 219MIPS, 5.5Mpixels per second for video and 1.6MB per second for uncached hard disk throughput. The system blazed through our 32-bit Word and Excel macros, earning scores of 22 and 18 seconds, respectively, demonstrating that the excellent Wintune scores translate into real-world applications.

Though the support software and online manual are excellent, there is virtually no paper documentation. This seems like a false economy in a system that costs so much. Nevertheless, the OmniBook 5000 2/120 offers outstanding performance for those willing to ante up.

-- Info File --
HP OmniBook 5000CTS 5/120
$6,295 (street)
Pros: Processor; hard disk; SCSI-2, PCI bus
Cons: Paper documentation; BIOS options for the parallel port
Hewlett-Packard Co.
WinMag Box Score: 4

Top What's Hot! PerfectOffice 7 HP OmniBook 5000 CTS 5/120 Sys Performance Pro 200

Sys Performance Pro 200

Pentium Pro-pelled

By John Gartner

The Sys Performance Pro 200 is aptly named. Powered by a 200MHz Pentium Pro, it boasts the horsepower of a team of Clydesdales at a reasonable price for cutting-edge technology. This Windows NT workstation withstood the toughest tasks I threw at it and kept up with my every move-whether I was copying files, crunching numbers or just browsing a directory. The system was so fast I didn't sit around waiting for screen refreshes, which made me a more productive (not to mention happier) worker.

It's no wonder the Sys Performance Pro kept me flying: Wintune scores of 413MIPS for the CPU and 1.3MB per second for uncached disk are competitive with those of the Dell and Micron 200MHz Pentium Pros reviewed in the February issue. The graphics performance is truly astonishing-a whopping 36Mpixels per second thanks to the stellar 2MB WRAM Matrox Millennium graphics accelerator. This number is significant because it's not only the best score we've ever seen, it's also nearly double anything we've seen before. The Performance Pro 200 zoomed through our Excel and Word macros in 9 and 5.3 seconds, respectively.

I was curious to see what made this speed demon run, so I was happy when the cover lifted off easily after I removed four screws. The AsusTek motherboard uses a large power module to regulate the juice going to the processor. The Pentium Pro chip has its own heat sink and mounted fan to keep it cool. The sturdy unit's expandability didn't disappoint me-three external bays, three PCI slots and one ISA slot were vacant even in this loaded configuration. Large hands may have difficulty attaching drive cables, as spacing is tight. Two SIMM slots contained 32MB of RAM, leaving two more slots available for further memory expansion. The Matrox Millennium card was installed in a shared slot that holds a PCI or proprietary card, a combination I haven't seen before.

Where the Performance Pro 200 came up short was in how the peripherals were set up-the ribbon cables and power connectors all jumbled together at the top of the motherboard-and in the curious disk drive configuration. Sys Technology included two Quantum Fireball 1.28-gigabyte EIDE hard drives, each connected to its own EIDE interface instead of being set up as master and slave. Nearly every other Windows NT machine I've seen uses SCSI drives with a fast disk controller for optimal performance and compatibility. While EIDE drives are a more cost-conscious solution, the Performance Pro's bundled CD-ROM drive and sound card used the more expensive SCSI interface anyway, so a SCSI hard drive would have been a better choice. The system came with guidelines on how to set up the dual EIDE drives for optimal performance, but in my test unit, the company neglected to format the secondary drive.

Although Sys Technology is not a name familiar to most PC buyers, the components inside the box will ring a few bells. The Creative Labs Sound Blaster 16 SCSI-2 sound card is a computer audio world staple, and the fine 6.7X CD-ROM drive is from Toshiba. The Fujitsu keyboard is heavy on audio feedback, but a little mushy in tactile response. The Microsoft Mouse 2.0 serial port mouse takes up a serial port, leaving just a 25-pin connector available. The Kingtex EP88 speakers generate better music than most entry-level multimedia kits.

The Cardinal MVP288I modem worked flawlessly and makes for quick cruising and downloading. It's odd that the system lacked the usual bundle of online starter diskettes. Neither the Comit nor the FaxWorks communications programs bundled with the system was preinstalled. The Matrox graphics card came with Asymetrix 3D F/X software and Papyrus Design Group's Nascar. Surprisingly, no sound editing or playback software was included to work with the Sound Blaster 16 card.

My test unit came with a 15-inch MAG InnoVision DX1595 monitor. This 0.28-millimeter dot-pitch display has a remarkably sharp focus in the screen's center, but the corners were noticeably less defined. Despite several attempts to optimize the picture, the rudimentary controls didn't enable me to straighten the bowing vertical edges of the screen.

Besides the application software manuals, the only documentation is the motherboard booklet. Most of this clearly worded manual is dedicated to memory installation and the BIOS setup, but unlike most system manuals, it doesn't detail all the subsystems. The AMI BIOS uses icons to help simplify system management and was a refreshing change from the usual menu scrolling that most setup programs employ.

This premium performer delivers the blistering speed that uncompromising users demand. Now if it could only make me a better typist ...

--Info File--
Sys Performance Pro 200
Pros: Performance; expansion
Cons: Documentation
Sys Technology
800-613-9963, 714-821-3900
WinMag Box Score 3.5
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