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9/96 Reviews Systems: IPC Austin Edge CD/P133

Listing of September 1996 Reviews

Multimedia Notebook's Price Edges Out Competition

By Cynthia Morgan

It's a charmer, all right. The IPC Austin Edge CD/P133 notebook comes loaded with features and still manages to keep its weight under 7 pounds and its price under $4,000.

After putting one unit through its paces-a couple of business trips, a few weeks of telecommuting and double duty as a desktop multimedia alternative-I've found the Edge to be a nifty little workhorse. Despite a couple of problems in this early model, it's certainly worth a second or third look if you want a PC that can do double duty on the desktop and on the road.

My machine came with a 133MHz Pentium, 16MB of RAM, an 812MB hard drive, dual PCMCIA slots and space for a second battery. It offers a choice of internal or PCMCIA modems. I'd opt for the internal unit; it's less expensive and doesn't have the compatibility problems I'm finding in advanced PCMCIA cellular/fax modems. The computer simply wouldn't cooperate with the modem I was given for this review.

A full multimedia machine, this notebook offers good video-right now I'm working in 16 million colors and 800x600 resolution-and surprisingly competent Creative Labs Vibra 16 stereo sound. The color display is a full 11.3 inches diagonally. You can swap the unit's side-mounted 6X CD-ROM drive for the floppy drive. Ejecting a drive pops the carrier open just enough to pull it the rest of the way out, which prevents damage if you're working in a crowded airplane's close quarters.

However, I had to be careful to seat each module correctly in the bay, slightly past the point of initial resistance. Otherwise, the floppy behaved exactly as if misaligned, and I got errors when trying to read CD discs.

Key travel on the Edge is a trifle shallow but very usable. It took me a while to get used to its pointing device, a trackpad centered below the keyboard. I generally disabled the pad and used an external mouse in the office.

Battery life, with 20 percent drive access and a minimum power-management setting, was a very respectable 3 hours, 15 minutes. I had trouble recharging a drained lithium ion battery, apparently because I let the charge drop below minimum levels detectable by battery "smarts." My review unit discharged two batteries to the point that I got absolutely no feedback from the charge-level LEDs on the battery itself. The problem seems to be with this early test model and apparently isn't reproducible on other Edge machines.

The Edge's performance in our Wintune 95 benchmark tests puts it squarely in the company of other Pentium 133 systems; it scored 245MIPS on our Dhrystone test, almost exactly the average score. Video scores were slightly low compared with desktop machines, but very respectable for a notebook computer.

You'll pay less than $3,700 for this machine if you install your own mouse and just over $3,900 with the internal modem. Considering the $6,000 to $7,000 prices of top-end machines with similar features, the Edge is a real bargain.

--Info File--
IPC Austin Edge CD/P133
$3,953 (with modem)
Pros: Feature-laden; performance
Cons: Trackpad; needs larger hard drive
IPC Technologies
800-752-1577, 512-339-3500
WinMag Box Score: 3.0

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