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October 8, 1991


By CBR Staff Writer

Down in Houston, Texas, there’s an air of scarcely-disguised excitement at Compaq Computer Corp over the company’s 33MHz 80486-based portable computer. The company has always prided itself on offering the Rolls Royces of portable computers, and the Portable 486c pushes back a few more frontiers. The 486c is an EISA bus-based AC-powered portable, and is Compaq’s first to use thin film transistor active matrix liquid crystal diode technology – courtesy of Sharp Corp. The new technology is combined with a hot cathode backlit panel and an integrated Compaq Advanced Video Graphics system to enable the colour VGA display to provide high contrast colours, screen response time of less than 50mS and the largest selection of colours currently available on a portable – a palette of 4,096, 256 at a time, in 640 by 480 pixel resolution. Compaq points out that that is eight times the number of simultaneous colours available on Toshiba Corp’s T3200SXC at full VGA resolution. Customers in windowing and other graphical environments will find the display as easy to read as desktop colour monitors, as it provides similar brightness, colour depth and viewing range, Compaq promises. The machine measures only 15.6 by 11 by 5.5 and weighs 17 lbs 10 oz. The 101-key keyboard has separate programmable function keys, a numeric keypad and dedicated cursor keys in an inverted T layout. The display includes an adjustable viewing angle, from minus 5o to plus 32o to reduce glare and obtain optimal image quality. A graphics accelerator speeds typical graphics operations, such as those used in Microsoft Corp’s Windows 3.0. It has a CD-ROM interface and audio input jack.The 486c is offered in two models, each with 4Mb of system memory expandable to 32Mb, 3.5 1.44Mb floppy, full-size detachable keyboard and Multilock security features. The Model 120, comes with a 120Mb hard disk drive and sells for $10,000, the Model 210 has a 210Mb disk drive and costs $11,000. Shipments are scheduled to begin later this quarter, but supplies are expected to be limited to start with – yields are not too good on those screens.

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