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7/96 Reviews Systems: NEC Versa 6030H

Listing of July 1996 Reviews

Versa's Vices Are Few

By Jim Forbes

Sometimes it's better to refine than to redefine. NEC has taken this approach with its new line of Versa notebooks. The Versa 6000 series borrows heavily from its predecessor, the Versa 4000, but blends a number of changes-both subtle and dramatic-into an up-to-date portable computer that takes advantage of the industry's latest technological turns.

I tested a preproduction copy of the Versa 6030H, one of the two 133MHz Pentium versions in the three-model line. All three machines incorporate the PCI-bus architecture and a new video subsystem.

At first blush, the Versa 6030H's changes may seem merely cosmetic, but the updates to the Versa 4000's familiar form are purely functional. The new notebook's case has been slightly reshaped to include a sculpted palm rest with a stippled surface, which improves comfort. Other small changes include repositioning the notebook's power cord attachment, moving the Kensington locking port so it can also protect the removable hard disk, and the addition of a built-in, cellular-ready 28.8Kbps modem. NEC also knew when to leave good enough alone: The 6030H has the same keyboard and trackpad used on the other Versas.

The Versa 6030H doesn't use a fan to cool its 133MHz CPU, which helps prolong battery life.

The notebook complements the high-end processor with an incredibly bright 12.1-inch active-matrix color display and a roomy 1.35-gigabyte hard disk. The Versa 6030H's connectors include serial and parallel ports, an external monitor port that supports resolutions up to 1024x768 and a docking station attachment. The PCMCIA bay can hold two Type II PC cards or one Type III. The optional docking station ($799) has a PCI expansion slot.

The battery and the hard disk bays are easy to access, and all three Versa 6000 models support NEC's Versa Bay expansion pocket, which accommodates the floppy disk drive or the 6X CD-ROM drive. To attach both these drives at the same time, you'll need the optional docking station.

At the heart of the Versa 6030H's graphics system is a Chips and Technology adapter with hardware-based MPEG. The graphics system, with its 2MB of video RAM, works well with NEC's 12.1-inch screen and its 800x600 resolution, making this notebook an effective platform for multimedia presentations.

The Versa 6030H uses a lithium ion battery. With minimal power conservation, you should be able to squeeze about two hours of juice from a single charge; more stringent conservation could yield three hours. A new power management utility makes it easier to control battery use.

The 6030H performed well on our Wintune benchmarks. Its results compared favorably with those of other 133MHz notebooks, even though this preproduction unit had not yet had its final fine-tuning and was using a prerelease BIOS. The Versa 6030H clocked 242MIPs in the CPU test, 1.73MB per second for uncached disk throughput and 6.13Mpixels per second on the video test. The notebook completed our 32-bit macro-based Excel and Word application tests in 18 and 30 seconds, respectively.

The 2.1 by 11.7 by 9.5-inch 6030H has a rugged case that stands up to the abuses of travel. Its total travel weight is 7.4 pounds.

With the 6030H and its siblings, NEC has managed to effectively evolve its Versa series into an up-to-date portable line.

--Info File--
NEC Versa 6030H
Under $6,500
Pros: Video; modular construction; 133MHz processor; CD-ROM drive
Cons: Price
NEC Technologies
800-NEC-VERSA, 508-264-8000
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

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