Tadpoles and Sun take 64-bit on the go, find a princely notebook

The small but mighty Tadpole Sparcbook 6500SX is fully 64-bit and can handle the most demanding media apps.

Henrik G. de Gyor

If you're looking for a high-performance notebook computer and have no problems navigating a Unix interface, the Tadpole Sparcbook 6500SX should meet your needs.

It's the first 64-bit notebook the GCN Lab has tested. The 6500SX has a 650-MHz Sun Microsystems UltraSparc IIi processor running Sun Solaris 9 with 1G of error-correcting-code synchronous dynamic RAM, 512K of L2 cache, a 40G hard drive and a 1,400- by 1,050-pixel display. It uses the GNU Network Object Model Environment, or GNOME.

We ran large image and movie files in GNOME, both independently and simultaneously. We also tested the way the 6500SX handled multitasking between media applications. And we tried out the presentation, spreadsheet and text applications of the preinstalled Sun StarOffice 6.0 suite.

The 6500SX passed all our tests without seeming fatigued. We could easily multitask with advanced, memory-intensive applications.

The only changes we would like to see are structural.

The Tadpole was the noisiest notebook we've ever heard. It had a high-pitched, serverlike hum that distracted us at first.

A user must have two hands free to open the Tadpole. Much like an IBM ThinkPad, the display locked on either side.

Unlike an IBM, however, it took both hands to unlock each clasp separately. A disabled user might not be able to accomplish this, so the notebook was not Section 508-ready.

Fortunately this can be easily corrected. Tadpole could connect the two side clips so that unlocking one releases the other.

The 6500SX came fully loaded with more ports than on most notebooks: three Universal Serial Bus 2.0 ports, an integrated 10/100Base-T Ethernet port, two PS/2 ports, and parallel and serial ports.

In addition it had an integrated IEEE 802.11b WiFi card and a decent lithium-ion battery capable of two to three hours of continuous use.

Weighing 7.1 pounds and measuring 12.8 by 10.5 by 1.8 inches, the 6500SX should be compact enough to fit in most notebook carrying cases; one came with the unit.

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