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COMPAQ'S LATEST DESKTOP PCS BOAST SPEED, ACCESSORIES.

Byline: Dwight Silverman Houston Chronicle

Those who thought they bought the biggest, fastest and meanest computer they could find during the Christmas season got a rude surprise when January rolled around.

That's when Intel announced its 150- and 166-megahertz Pentium chips.

Computer manufacturers immediately started offering slick, new machines built around them.

Suddenly, 133-megahertz computers that were top-of-the-line weeks before became midrange systems.

A speedy processor, though, isn't everything. Computer makers continue to look for bells and whistles to make their boxes stand out from the other guy's.

Compaq Computer Corp. has come up with two nifty hardware add-ons for its latest line of Presario desktop computers. These devices are not installed across the entire line, but only on certain machines.

One is a single-sheet paper scanner built into a keyboard. The other is a CD-ROM drive that can write huge amounts of data to a cartridge-based compact disc. (Unfortunately, the scanner was not available in time for a review here.) Compaq has opted to put these goodies in its low- to midlevel systems.

I tried out two new Compaq Presarios. One was the 9660, which has a 166-megahertz Pentium chip, a two-gigabyte hard drive and a six-speed CD-ROM drive. The other was the 9240, with a 133-megahertz chip, the writeable CD-ROM drive and a 1.6-gigabyte hard drive. Both computers had a 28,800-baud fax modem, 16 megabytes of random-access memory and voice mail/speakerphone capabilities.

The faster machine sells for $2,999 without a monitor. The other is $2,799 without a monitor.

Speaking of monitors, on both of the models I used a 15-inch Presario 1510, which comes with speakers that hang off the side of the screen.

The display and speakers, which are among the best I've ever heard on a computer, sell for $499.

The most intriguing feature of the 9240 is the writeable CD-ROM drive, called a "PD-CD" drive by its maker, Panasonic. It will hold 650 megabytes, more if you compress the data. However, what you store on the CD cartridge can't be read by standard CD-ROM drives, though the PD-CD drive itself can read standard compact discs.

Compaq is touting the PD-CD drive as an easy way to do a backup of the computer - a tedious but crucial task that most users neglect. However, the drive is very slow when it's writing to the disk. It took me more than three hours to back up the computer's 400-plus megabytes. By contrast, it takes about 90 minutes to back up 700 megabytes on my own computer, using a Colorado Jumbo 1400 tape drive.

The drive might be put to better use doing data-only backups or for storing large graphics files. You could use it to store and launch infrequently used programs, but they'll perform much more slowly than if you run them from a hard drive.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:BUSINESS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 5, 1996
Words:473
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