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8/96 Reviews Systems: Hitachi M-120T

Listing of August 1996 Reviews

Blessed Event: Birth of a Book

By Jim Forbes

You just know that Toshiba or NEC or Texas Instruments will roll out a knock-yer-socks-off notebook from time to time. But when a blockbuster comes from an unexpected source, you sit up and take notice. With two new-and very impressive-notebook lines, Hitachi is hitting the ground running in the portable PC market.

I tested the Hitachi M-120T, from the company's high-end M series. While this model has a 120MHz Pentium, others in the line are available with 90MHz, 100MHz and 133MHz processors. The M-120T comes with 16MB of EDO RAM (upgradable to 48MB), a fast 1GB hard disk and a quad-speed CD-ROM drive that shares the same bay as the removable floppy disk drive.

The M-120T's 11.8-inch active-matrix screen produced clear, bright images in concert with its Cirrus Logic graphics controller with 1MB of video memory. In addition to its high-speed infrared transceiver, the notebook has serial, parallel, monitor, keyboard and mouse ports, as well as jacks for a microphone and audio in and out. The M-120T has two Type II PCMCIA slots which will also accommodate a single Type III card. Sound is supplied by the Sound Blaster Pro-compatible audio system and internal stereo speakers.

The screen's native resolution is 800x600 and it supports resolutions up to 1024x768 on an external monitor. When you open the unit, the display swings up and slides forward, which makes it easy to adjust its angle, and makes it a lot easier to set up on airplane tray tables.

Because of the sliding screen, the keyboard doesn't have a palm rest. But I still found it quite comfortable, with its keyboard-mounted pointing stick and cursor control buttons located in front of the spacebar.

Hitachi uses a Duracell 3100 milliamp nickel metal hydride battery for the M-120T's portable power.

The notebook's self-contained adapter makes plugging in for AC power convenient. The M-120T's battery lasted slightly more than 2.5 hours with advanced power management enabled.

Hitachi wants to make sure that you're never out of touch when you use the M-120T. Its standard configuration includes a built-in modem and LAN interface. The modem is a 28.8Kbps V.34-compliant unit, and the LAN link is a PCI 10BaseT Ethernet adapter with an AMD 79C970A controller.

The M-120T measures 2.2 by 12 by 9 inches and has a total travel weight of 7 pounds. Controls and indicators include status LEDs for power, network, IR, hard disk and other system functions.

In most areas, the M-120T's performance was quite good. On our Wintune benchmarks, its processor averaged 216MIPS, and its hard disk managed an above-average 3.03MB-per-second throughput. The notebook's video subsystem churned out an average of 3.43Mpixels per second-also a good score. On our application tests, the M-120T completed the Excel macro in 30 seconds and the Word macro in 65.66 seconds. The quad-speed CD-ROM drive worked well, with true 4X speed and 200-milisecond seek times.

At the same time it rolled out the M series, Hitachi introduced a C series of lightweight notebooks, (5.3 pounds) available with 90MHz, 100MHz and 120MHz Pentium processors.

About the only fault I could find with the M-120T was its lack of a docking station. But if you don't need one, I heartily recommend this notebook.

Info File
Hitachi M-120T
Pros: Modem and LAN adapter; 120MHz Pentium; screen; five-year warranty
Cons: No docking port
Hitachi PC Corp.
800-555-6820, 408-321-5216
WinMag Box Score: 4.5
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