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Have computer, will travel.

In years gone by when busy executives left the office on an out-of-town business trip, their work often was put on hold until they returned or could catch up. It meant critical business decisions were delayed. But in today's increasingly competitive marketplace, companies can't afford a lapse in productivity. "They need you to be able to do everything you normally would do in the office on the trip," says John Pemberton, an analyst with the Gartner Group, Stamford, Conn.

Enter the mobile office--a work environment that encompasses portable fax machines, printers, pagers, cellular telephones and an assortment of other peripheral gadgets, such as electronic dictionaries, thesauruses and organizers.

Pocket-size electronic organizers, such as Sharp Electronics Corp.'s Wizards and Cassio's BOSS remain popular business tools. These are essentially limited-function computers used to record memos, appointment schedules, telephone numbers and addresses and expenses (using a built-in calculator).

The latest Wizard series, OZ-8000 (64K of RAM, $340) and OZ-8200 (128K of RAM, $400), have optional IC cards for programs, such as an eight-language translator, money planner, time manager, data exchange and fax-modem.

While hand-held computers are not new, until recently advances in memory-card storage and powerful microprocessors are enabling these small PCs to compute more than just information.

Palmtop PCs pick up where pocket organizers leave off. These full-fledged PCs, such as the Poqet Portable PC, Atari Portfolio and HP 95 LX, are packed with DOS, desktop utilities and memory-stored applications, including spreadsheet analysis, data-base maintenance and E-mail fetching. Prices range between $600 to $15,000 for enhanced features, including an internal modem.

An innovation that has come of age is the notebook PC, allowing business travelers to take the office with them on the road. Portable PCs allow them to feed critical information instantly to the mainframe at the corporate office and to receive it just as easily.

Notebooks are lightweight machines (weighing eight pounds or less and are the size of an 8 1/2-by-11-inch sheet of paper). Notebooks aren't to be confused with their portable cousin--laptop computers, which typically weigh 15 pounds and have a general size of 12 by 14 inches.

Currently laptops consume about 75% of the portable computer market, according to market research company BIS Strategic Decisions, Norwell, Mass. Notebooks still are one of the fastest-growing segments of personal computers. According to market research company Dataquest Inc., San Jose, Calif., 246,000 notebooks will be shipped in the United States in 1991, compared to the 156,000 in 1990. The $633 million market for notebooks is expected to grow by 79% to $4.62 billion by 1995. Twee Pham, a product manager with Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Irvine, Calif., says flexibility and mobility is driving the market.

Many of the dozens of models on the market have capabilities comparable to desktop PCs, including full-sized keyboards, internal floppy drives, and expandable ports for a mouse, modems or CD-ROMs.

Because there are so many notebook models, users can choose the features they want to suit their needs. Toshiba offers two low-end models, the T1000LE and T1200XE, which are geared toward users who primarily need access to the company's mainframe rather than computing speed. The T1000LE lists for $1,799 and has a 20 MB hard drive. The T1200XE is a 286-based system that lists for $1,999 and has a 20 to 40 MB hard drive and high-density internal floppy disk drive.

Toshiba's high-end notebook, the T2000SXE, is geared toward corporate users who need both computing speed and power. The model, which lists for $4,499, is battery-powered with a 386 processor and has up to 60 MB hard drive.

GRiD Systems Corp., Fremont, Calif., offers both a high-power 286-based and 386SX-based notebook computer, the 1720 and 1750 respectively. The 1720 is a 16 MHz unit with a 2400-baud modem, 20 MB hard drive and 640K memory expandable to 5 MB. The 1750 is a 20 MHz unit featuring up to 8 MB of memory, a 2400-baud data-fax modem and 60 MB hard drive. A built-in resume-suspend function enables the user to shut off the unit and later return to where they left off without having to reboot the system.

NEC Technologies Inc., Wood Dale, Ill., offers a portable CD-ROM attachment, the CDR-36, with its UltraLite SX/20. With the CD-ROM, the unit still weighs less than 10 pounds. A 40 MB version of the UltraLite SX/20 lists for $3,999, and a 60 MB version lists for $4,399.

Meanwhile, Mahwah, N.J.-based Sharp Electronics Corp.'s PC6641 and PC6661 notebook PCs have parallel printer ports for printing capabilities and an internal data-fax modem.

While the average cost of the mobile office in 1990 with it varying components was $13,760, experts expect that price to decrease to $4,900 by 1996. Ultimately, all portable components will be packed into a single unit, the size of a briefcase.


Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp.'s DOS 5.0 has arrived and this program is better than ever, say experts. The nation's biggest-selling computer disk operating system (translation for DOS), which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, has quashed rumors of its anticipated obsolescence. The name DOS has been used by several computer manufacturers for various operating systems (i.e., Apple DOS, PC-DOS and MS-DOS).

The new DOS version 5.0 offers a variety of improvements, including a Windows-like file manager, ability to load multiple applications and switch them between, on-line help and enhanced memory for running applications on a 286-based computer or better.

Another favorable feature of DOS 5.0 is the facilitation of the program's installation. The setup program copies the user's current DOS files to a backup directory during the installation process. So, the user can revert back to the older version and reboot the system if any unforeseen problem occurs.

Users of 386 and 486 PCs can take advantage of the program's expanded memory manager. The more conventional memory you have free, the greater the speed and the more applications you can work with simultaneously. DOS 5.0's new memory management helps the program to co-exist better with Windows and network environments.

Other additions to the DOS upgrade, include a full-screen text editor and built-in QuickBASIC interpreter, both of which use a text-based interface that resembles the one used in the MicrosoftWorks software program as well as a file search utility, mouse support and pulldown menus. DOS 5.0 retails for $99.95.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on DOS 5.
Author:Greene, Marvin
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 1, 1991
Previous Article:Bells & whistles savings account.
Next Article:Black business: a year-end review.

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