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-- by Jim Forbes
Apply the maxim "you can never be too thin or too rich" to notebook computers, and it would go something like, "it can never be too light or get too much time on a charge." The latest version of the Toshiba Portege 660 makes the grade on both accounts. The system puts 150MHz Pentium performance in a 1.9 by 10.4 by 8.3-inch, 5.5-pound package. That includes cables and, oh yes, a 10X CD-ROM drive and an 11.3-inch TFT active-matrix color screen.
I was able to use the Portege's lithium ion battery for up to 2.2 hours with only minimal power conservation, which is quite good for a 150MHz notebook. The base configuration also includes 16MB of EDO RAM, 256KB of level 2 cache, a self-contained 28.8Kbps modem and a 1.26GB hard drive. The 660CDT comes with the usual bevy of ports, except for IrDA, a curious omission.
Because of its diminutive form factor, the Portege 660CDT uses a keyboard that's smaller than those on most notebooks, and it may take some getting used to. The system also uses an AccuPoint pointing device.
The 660CDT's screen is bright and sharp enough for most multimedia presentations. Video comes courtesy of a Chips and Technology 65554 PCI-based video controller with 2MB of EDO DRAM.
An option bay can accommodate its 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, its CD-ROM drive or an extra battery. The CD-ROM drive worked as advertised with average data transfers of 1.5MB per second. It generated an unpleasant amount of noise and vibration, but that is typical of 10X notebook drives.
Our WINDOWS Magazine Wintune 95 benchmarks clocked a processor speed of 272.67MIPS, and rather ordinary scores of 1.4MB per second uncached disk throughput and 4.67Mpixels per second video throughput. The 660CDT's average times to execute our application macros were middling, too, at 33 seconds for Word and 17 seconds for Excel.
As I write this, Toshiba is the only vendor offering a 150MHz Pentium ultra-compact notebook with an integrated high-speed CD-ROM drive and an industry-standard TFT (thin film transistor) screen. It's a worthy competitor to our recommended Hewlett-Packard OmniBook 800CT, but its high price and lackluster performance (particularly in disk throughput and time to execute our Word macro) keep the Portege off the Recommended List.
The ultra-compact 150MHz Toshiba Portege 660CDT has an 11.3-inch TFT screen, a 10X CD-ROM drive and an integrated modem.