Let's hear a round of applause for some of the best hardware of 1997

More important than speed is hardware reliability, which increases as software becomes
less so. Manufacturing progress has made hardware components cheaper, faster and more
durable.


Managers of large enterprise environments have mostly held off on software upgrades in
the last year. But they have been upgrading their hardware at full speed. Falling prices,
more manageability and less downtime all mean there's no reason not to upgrade hardware if
you can.


Best monochrome printer: IBM Corp.'s Network Printer 24 [GCN, July 28,
Page 37] was fast, gave great output, and had the features of higher-end printers at a
better price.


Best color printer: Photo-quality printing on a tight budget used to be
impossible. No more. The Epson America Inc. Stylus Photo ink-jet printer [GCN, Aug.
25, Page 52] blew away the other color printers we looked at this year in producing
high-quality, photorealistic output.


Best network printer: The LaserJet 5si Mopier from Hewlett-Packard Co. [GCN,
July 28, Page 37] propelled printing into the future. In 1998, rivals will deliver their
interpretations of this multiple-originals device that crosses copying with network
printing.


Best digital camera: We've tried only a few but keep coming back to Eastman
Kodak Co.'s DC120. For $700, you get good image quality at a great price. [GCN,
Sept. 1, Page 42].


Best server: In retrospect, we may view 1997 as the year PC servers finally grew
up. PC server makers have tossed around the term enterprise-ready for years, but few
backed it up with true enterprise capability until now.


Among small workgroup servers, the leaders were the Vetix Lxi from Micron Electronics
Inc. of Nampa, Idaho, and the Dell Computer Corp. PowerEdge 2100 [GCN, March 3,
Page 27]. We also highlighted the Dell PowerEdge 4100 for sites needing more power and
availability. The servers, updated with new processors and more features, are still good
bets for file and print services or as World Wide Web servers.


In 1998, look for PC servers to go into even higher gear with new processors, system
boards and disk subsystems.


Best PC: Dell's OptiPlex GXa [GCN, Nov. 24, Page 30] isn't perfect, but
you can't beat a minitower with single-button access and extremely good performance. We
just wish the Accelerated Graphics Port weren't integrated so we could upgrade the 4M
video accelerator.


Best monitor: The Color 45/101sf from Cornerstone Imaging Inc. of San Jose,
Calif. [GCN, July 14, Page 40] isn't just for document imaging. This 19-inch,
high-contrast monitor was the best for clear text and sharp photo rendering.


Best notebook: Dozens of portables paraded through the GCN Lab. We had a hard
time settling on Dell's Latitude CP [GCN, Nov. 10, Page 1]. It won the top spot for
its sleek design, low weight and generally strong performance. We liked the briefcase,
too.


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