Quantex slims notebook PC line, boosts speed

Quantex slims notebook PC line, boosts speed

Unit's 15.1-inch active-matrix LCD makes text, graphics easier for visually impaired user to read

By John Breeden II

GCN Staff

The W-1500 notebook computer from Quantex Microsystems Inc. has plenty of power, but at more than seven pounds it's heavy compared with the influx of new ultraportables.

Nevertheless, Quantex has slimmed down its notebooks, some of which have weighed nearly nine pounds.

The Quantex LCD was readable even by a visually impaired user who normally can't use a notebook PC.

My test unit was configured with a 650-MHz Pentium III SpeedStep processor that slows down when running on battery power. This was evident in the GCN Lab's ZD Benchmark Operation testing. When plugged into an outlet, the notebook delivered the full 650 MHz. On battery power, it performed like a 500-MHz unit.

Questionable benefit

I'm not a big fan of SpeedStep. I find I can get more use out of a 650-MHz notebook in 20 minutes than I can out of a 500-MHz notebook in 30 minutes. But SpeedStep seems to be the way the industry is headed.

The W-1500 lineup provides a lot of options, including SpeedStep processors as fast as 750 MHz. My test notebook had the maximum 256M of RAM, which boosted the price significantly, even with a less than bleeding-edge processor.

Box Score


Notebook PC
Quantex Microsystems Inc.;

Somerset, N.J.; tel. 800-346-6685


Price as tested: $3,198

+ Large LCD and powerful processor

- Heavier than most notebooks

Usability - B

Features and configuration - A

Benchmark performance - B

ZD's Business Winstone 99 - 25.1

About 151% faster than a 233-MHz Pentium MMX

The overall grade comprises scores for three factors: usability (60 percent), features and configuration (20 percent), and performance (20 percent). The lab used ZD's Winstone 99. For benchmark information, go to www.gcn.com/gcnlab/benchmark.

The most impressive thing about the
W-1500 is its 15.1-inch active-matrix LCD, which has about a 160-degree viewing angle. Text and graphics are crisp and easy on the eyes.

I asked a friend who works for the federal government to test the Quantex. He can't read the screens of most notebooks because of severe vision problems, but he said he was sorry to have to give back the Quantex because he could actually get work done with it. Even though its screen is far smaller than his 21-inch office monitor, he took along the W-1500 on a business trip and filed reports on the road, something that is ordinarily difficult for him.

The large screen creates a domino effect, however: The battery has to be larger, the case has to be bigger and the extra glass adds weight. The Quantex battery lasts a fairly long time in a unit with such a large screen'just under an hour in the GCN Lab's battery torture tests. You might be able to extend that life a bit in ordinary use, perhaps a little more than an hour.

The screen extends slightly beyond the edge of the case, though not enough to expose the LCD to damage. In past models, an unprotected gap between screen and case was large enough to make the LCD vulnerable.

The triple-spindle design provides a DVD-ROM drive, a 1.44M floppy drive and a generous 12G hard drive. The ATI Technologies Rage Mobility Pro Accelerated Graphics Port card is one of the best you can get for a notebook. It renders rapidly in 3-D, especially when plugged into an AC outlet to step up the processor.

The W-1500 line has power to spare. The only tradeoff is that you might be late at the airport lugging the extra pounds.

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