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7/96 Reviews Systems: Toshiba Satellite Pro 420CDT

Listing of July 1996 Reviews

Multimedia by the Book

By Jim Forbes

Sometimes it's better to redefine a technology than to try to reinvent it. Toshiba's Satellite Pro 420 series of notebook computers exemplifies this philosophy.

With its new Satellite Pro 420CDT, Toshiba refines and enhances the proven design of its earlier Satellite Pro 410. The 420CDT is built around an Intel 100MHz Pentium processor, and provides excellent multimedia support with its hardware-based MPEG video, a 6X CD-ROM drive and accelerated graphics.

The 420CDT I tested had an 11.3-inch active-matrix TFT screen, a Chips and Technology graphics accelerator with 2MB of video RAM, 8MB of EDO RAM, a 1.3-gigabyte hard disk, an external 3.5-inch floppy disk drive and support for Zoom Video via its integrated MPEG technology.

The notebook has the usual set of ports-parallel, serial, monitor and mouse-as well as one for a docking station. The 420CDT incorporates Toshiba's SelectBay, so you can connect the CD and floppy drives simultaneously. Another familiar-and very handy-feature is the built-in AC adapter.

Measuring 2.2 by 11.8 by 9.3 inches, the 420CDT is a large notebook with a travel weight of about 7.4 pounds (including the floppy drive, CD-ROM and power cord).

While the 420CDT borrows from its predecessor, the Satellite Pro 410, it does have some unique features. For example, the audio jacks for the CD-ROM's audio component are in front. Because connectors are so accessible, you can hook up peripherals-speakers, a monitor, headphones and so forth-very quickly. The floppy disk drive and serial connector are on the left side, next to the PCMCIA slots, and the volume control is easy to reach at the front of the 420CDT's case. The notebook's comfortable keyboard is Toshiba's standard issue, with an AccuPoint pointing stick.

The 420CDT is well suited for presentations. Although its 11.3-inch screen isn't as bright as those on other notebooks, it should prove adequate for intimate settings. The notebook's MPEG capabilities and fine audio system make the 420CDT a good choice for presentations that include video.

On the road, the 420CDT is powered by a lithium ion battery. Given the notebook's configuration, I was surprised by how long the battery lasted. In my tests, with advanced power management enabled, the system's battery delivered nearly three hours worth of juice. It would be reasonable to expect about 2 1/2 hours of battery life as long as power conservation-such as lowering display brightness, removing PC Card devices and limiting hard disk accesses-is employed.

In our Wintune tests, the 420CDT's performance placed it in the middle of the pack of similarly equipped portables. It scored 176MIPS on the CPU test, logged an uncached hard disk throughput of 1.77MB per second and registered 4.77Mpixels per second on the video test. It completed our application tests in 62 seconds for the Word macro and 27.33 seconds for the Excel macro.

The Satellite Pro 420CDT's multimedia capability is nicely complemented by its solid construction and usability. Once again, Toshiba has demonstrated its leadership in portable computing.

--Info File--
Toshiba Satellite Pro 420CDT
Pros: Video; 6X CD-ROM
Cons: External drive
Toshiba America Information Systems
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

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