Armada 7800, Solo 5100XL serve well as weapons for road warriors | GCN BuyersGUIDE

The Armada 7800 from Compaq Computer Corp. is a good example of a high-end portable
notebook that could also do double-duty service as a desktop device. The one I tried came
with a 13.3-inch XGA active-matrix screen, 266-MHz Mobile Pentium II CPU, 64M of
synchronous dynamic RAM, S3 Virge/MX graphics controller with 4M of RAM, built-in modem,
removable 5G Smart hard drive and 20X CD-ROM drive.


Its backplane revealed high-speed serial and parallel interfaces, with Universal Serial
Bus, IrDA, S-video, PC Card and docking station ports, docking station and PC Card
interfaces.


The system comes loaded with options, including easy access to an 8G hard drive and
more RAM. It also comes with full Accelerated Graphics Port support—the only notebook
out there that does. The company’s plans call for a DVD drive in the near future.


My unit didn’t come with a docking station, but even without one, working on the
Armada 7800 gave me the best notebook computing experience I’ve had. It’s simply
addictive. I’ve used it every day since I’ve had it—at my desk, on the
kitchen table, in the car, at a coffeehouse. My desktop PC is gathering dust at home.


The downside? It’s huge, it’s hefty and its $5,399 price makes it a bit rich
for my blood. Add $600 for an ArmadaStation docking station, and you’ve spent about
$6,000.


The $3,799 Solo 5100XL from Gateway Inc. is a little less ambitious featurewise but a
nice package nonetheless. Also powered by a 266-MHz Mobile Pentium II CPU, my test unit
came with a 4.1G hard drive, 20X CD-ROM drive, 64M of SDRAM, built-in modem and a full
array of interfaces on the backplane. A 1.44M floppy drive and optional docking station
weren’t provided.


The 5100XL set up and ran flawlessly. Its huge 14.1-inch XGA active-matrix screen
rivals my desktop monitor both in size and clarity. Gateway has priced the machine well
and will be promoting it in government markets even over its Solo 9100 LS.


The companies’ Web addresses are http://www.compaq.com and http://www.gateway.com.


Contact Compaq at 713-514-0484 and Gateway at 605-232-2000.  


—J.B. Miles


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