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6/96 Reviews System: Canon Innova Media MT 9600

Complete listing of June 1996 reviews

Loaded Canon Is on Target

By Marc Spiwak

Canon has loaded its new powerhouse Innova Media MT 9600 with the top-gun 166MHz Pentium, tossed in 256KB of level 2 cache and complemented the combination with a battery of solid components.

Although the Innova Media MT 9600 comes with 16MB RAM, it can accept up to 128MB of system memory. Its 1.6GB Western Digital hard drive provides sufficient storage, and the system's Mitsumi 6X CD-ROM drive can handle multimedia titles or software installations with dispatch. Canon fills out the configuration with a 17-inch monitor, an SVD modem, a Logitech mouse and a standard keyboard that lacks Windows 95-specific keys.

I was surprised to find the Innova Media MT 9600's audio and video capabilities built into the motherboard. It's not unusual to see integrated audio and video on lower-end configurations destined for home use, but rarely does such a high-end system take this approach. The built-in components don't really pose a problem, however, as they can be disabled and replaced with more capable cards to effect upgrades to these subsystems. The MT 9600's video does have some room to grow; you can upgrade the on-board PCI video component to 2MB of video RAM from its standard 1MB.

The MT 9600's video system did fare quite well when tested with WINDOWS Magazine's Wintune benchmarks. It managed a very respectable 15Mpixels per second-an impressive showing for a setup with only 1MB of video RAM. With its video configuration, the system can support resolutions of 640x480 with 24-bit color (16 million colors), 800x600 and 16-bit color (65,000 colors), 1024x768 with 8-bit color (256 colors) or 1280x1024 with 4-bit color (16 colors).

The Canon 17-inch monitor has a fairly flat screen and a 0.26mm dot pitch. The monitor produced a bright, sharp picture in its 16-inch viewing area with corner-to-corner display capability. BNC and D-sub connectors are located on the back panel, and a button on the front panel switches between these two input alternatives. You can use both input connectors to accept images from two different sources and then switch between them as needed. Other button controls let you adjust horizontal and vertical position and size, pincushioning, color temperature, brightness and contrast. You can store and recall image-adjustment setups.

By building the video and audio into the Innova Media MT 9600's motherboard, Canon keeps nearly all of the system's expansion slots available for expansion or upgrades. The system's four PCI slots are unoccupied; of the three ISA slots, only one is used by the 28.8Kbps SVD modem. Further expansion is afforded by three available bays; two of these bays are internal and the third offers external access.

The 28.8 SVD modem provides speakerphone capabilities, and also allows simultaneous voice and data transmission. For example, with this modem a support technician can talk to a customer while troubleshooting that customer's system. In addition to its standard serial and parallel ports, the MT 9600 has an infrared port that provides wireless communication with other IR-equipped devices for activities such as file transfers and printing.

The system's built-in audio consists of a motherboard-based ESS 1788 AudioDrive chip. The audio system is certainly adequate, as are the speakers, which are styled to match the look of the MT 9600's tower case. There are controls for power, volume, bass and treble.

On other Wintune performance tests, the MT 9600's 166MHz Pentium CPU clocked 303MIPs for the processor benchmark, a score that ranks it among the fastest 166MHz Pentium systems. Its Western Digital hard disk had a very good uncached 3.23MB-per-second data throughput. On our application simulation tests using Microsoft Word 7.0 and Excel 7.0 macros, the MT 9600 completed the Word macro in 20 seconds and the Excel macro in 13.67 seconds.

Canon packages a decent, but limited, software assortment with the system, including Quicken and Microsoft Works 4.0 for Windows 95. It's also equipped with adult and children's games, and software to get you connected to several popular online services. The software bundle is clearly intended for small or home offices.

With its high-performance processor, speedy hard drive, plenty of RAM, 6X CD-ROM drive and large monitor, the Canon Innova Media MT 9600 has a lot to offer. It would be nice to see 2MB of video memory as part of its standard configuration and maybe a Windows 95-compatible keyboard. But even without those features, it's still a system that merits your serious consideration-especially if expansion capability is one of your priorities.

Info File
Canon Innova Media MT 9600
Pros: Expandability; performance
Cons: Software
Canon Computer Systems
800-848-4123, 714-438-3000
WinMag Box Score: 3.5
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