What is it: a multimedia notebook with audio and video capabilities
Applications: office suites; presentations; audio and video playback; and games
In the run-up to Christmas, the last few months have seen a host of new notebook PC releases, and Texas Instruments (TI) has come up with a sound product.
The TI Travelmate 6050 measures 228x 279x51mm and weighs 2.7kg, which makes it slimmer and lighter than other multimedia notebooks on the market.
A magnesium plate has been built into the PC's system architecture to help distribute heat. This means there is no need for an internal fan, which keeps down the weight of the Travelmate. Certainly, the PC doesn't generate much heat, even after two to three hours of constant use.
An integrated 16-bit Soundblaster Pro card and microphone provide audio capabilities. External speakers can also be attached for greater amplification.
The PCI bus makes applications run even faster with 256Kb of L2 cache memory, and it supports a parallel port for printer connection.
The serial port houses a range of peripheral devices such as modems and scanners. Elsewhere, there are plugs for an external monitor and a PS/2 keyboard, as well as an aperture for a locking device. Two Type I or II, or one Type III PC-Card can be added for network connectivity, remote modem access, external SCSI attachment or MPEG video playback.
Initially, the keyboard feels flimsy. But once you get used to the keys, you can type extremely quickly. The layout is generally good, although the delete key is inconveniently placed at the top right-hand corner of the keyboard.
The mouse takes the form of a red nipple in the centre of the keyboard, with two buttons between the stereo speakers on the front panel.
The 12.1in TFT SVGA screen is an ideal size. It's as large as you could hope for in a notebook PC, and is served by a generous 2Mb of VRAM to power graphically-intensive applications. The back-lit display is brighter when running from the mains supply than from the battery, but in either mode it provides an image quality that is superior to that found on most notebooks.
Standard memory is 16Mb of EDO RAM, expandable to 72Mb. There is only one modular drive bay which must be shared between the floppy disk and six-speed CD-ROM drives. This means that only one can be used at any one time. The other compartment is reserved exclusively for the battery, which has an average life of about one-and-a-half hours.
With 1.35Gb of hard disk space, the Travelmate has the option of installing either Windows 95 or Windows for Workgroups 3.11 as the operating system.
Windows 95 users get the added bonus of the Windows 95 Plus pack, which contains extra colour-schemes, sounds and games.
Notebook-to-desktop connectivity software is provided by Tranxit, and with Cheyenne Bitware there is the facility for remote communication.
Verdict: the Travelmate 6050's excellent 12.1in SVGA screen is hard to beat. Although not the fastest model around, it has plenty of memory and multimedia features to compensate.
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