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November 1996 Reviews TOC

11/96 Reviews SYS: Compaq Armada 4130T

Armada Has a Fleet of Features

By Hailey Lynne McKeefry

The Compaq Armada is a chameleon among notebooks and has enough persona to meet the needs of just about any situation. Among the cast of characters it can play: a traditional full-function notebook, a slimline unit and a multimedia machine worthy of any presentation.

The standard notebook configuration provides just about everything the average business user could ask for,including a floppy disk drive and two stereo speakers. This configuration also has multimedia features that take it beyond an average notebook. For example, there is an internal microphone so that you can record voice and sound for your multimedia projects, a stereo line-in jack for hooking up a CD player, tape player or tuner, plus three external audio jacks (for a microphone, headphones and another external audio device).

In this configuration, the unit weighs about six pounds and is only 1.5 inches high. The basic features of the unit I looked at include 16MB of RAM, a 133MHz Pentium processor, an optional 28.8Kb-per-second PC Card telephony modem ($249) and an 810MB hard drive (a 1.08GB drive is now standard). The notebook also offers an 11.8-inch color TFT SuperVGA display.

Other available units have 100MHz or 120MHz Pentiums, only 8MB of RAM and an 11.3-inch color STN display. Upgrade options on this unit include boosting the RAM to 40MB or 48MB.

For users who need to travel fast and light, the Armada's battery handle and floppy drive can be removed, and a lithium ion battery can be placed in the drive bay for optimum power life. Although the height of the unit remains the same, the total system weight is reduced to 5 pounds.

Finally, a Mobile CD Expansion Unit (MCD) can be slid onto the bottom of the unit to add still more multimedia features. These include a quad-speed CD-ROM drive, an extra battery compartment, a game port with a MIDI interface and an additional set of stereo speakers. Despite their diminutive size, the speakers are powerhouses in small packages, offering 16-bit stereo and 1 watt per channel. The cost of this functionality is an additional 1.5 inches in height and another 2.25 pounds.

On our Wintune benchmarks, the Armada's processor averaged 243MIPS, and its hard disk managed a somewhat middle-of-the-road 1.9MB per second uncached. The unit's video subsystem provided an impressive 6.5Mpixels per second. On our application tests, the 4130T completed the Excel macro in a speedy 21 seconds, and executed the Word macro in 40 seconds.

The Armada's keyboard is full-sized, and the keys provide good tactile feel. The status-panel lights located under the screen indicate power status, battery charge status, caps lock, scroll lock and number lock. The touchpad unit is off center under the spacebar, and is fairly convenient and easy to use. For traditionalists, the touchpad can be removed and an optional optical trackball pointer can be slid into its place.

The back of the unit boasts the usual connectors, including a keyboard/mouse port, a parallel connector, a serial port, an external monitor connector and an NTSC/PAL video port. There's also an infrared port.

When powered by a single lithium ion battery, the unit had barely enough steam to break the 1.5-hour mark in the Standard configuration.

Although expensive, the Compaq Armada 4130T tries to be all things to all people-and reaches that goal.

-- Info File --
Compaq Armada 4130T
$2,599 to $4,599
Pros: Modularity
Cons: Battery life
Platforms: 95
Compaq Computer Corp.
800-345-1518, fax 713-518-1442
WinMag Box Score 3.5

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