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April 20, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Zenith Data Systems yesterday announced its new SupersPORT family of laptops and luggables, headlined by a weighty 80386 machine that runs Xenix as well as MS-DOS. The range consists of the Supersport, SupersPORT 286 and TurbosPORT 386 using the 80C88, 80C286 and 80386 processors respectively. The SupersPORT XT alike comes in two versions, the Model 2 with twin 720Kb 3.5 drives while the Model 20, as the name suggests, is fitted with a 20Mb 75mS access hard disk and one floppy. The 80C88 is switchable between 4.77MHz and 8MHz with zero wait states. The slower speed is claimed to be more important in prolonging battery life rather than purely to ensure compatiblity. The machine comes with 640Kb of RAM as standard expandable to 1.64Mb with EMS and the screen is a CGA Supertwist backlit LCD Screen. Zenith claims the SupersPORT 286 and 386 to be the first lap-tops in their class to be battery-powered, largely made possible by its decision to use LCD technology rather than take the gas plasma route favoured by main rival Toshiba Corp. The AT compatible 286 machine is switchable between 6MHz and 12MHz with zero wait states and is supplied with 1Mb of RAM expandable to 2Mb – EMS and extended memory addressable, one 1.4Mb 3.5 floppy drive and a double scan CGA supertwist backlit LCD screen. 20Mb or 40Mb 28mS access hard disk options are available. While the XT and AT compatible SupersPORT machines are outwardly identical the 386 is very different and much more angular in appearance with a detachable keyboard. This and its 18 lbs weight makes its claim as a lap-top much less credible and puts it much more in the luggable class. It is switchable between 6MHz and 12MHz, with zero wait states and is supplied with 2Mb RAM expandable to 3Mb, one 1.4Mb 3.5 floppy drive and the same 40Mb disk. The display is described as a high contrast paper-white backlit LCD screen. Interestingly in demonstration the display was very reminiscent of a piece of parchment, rather patchy in places depending on the level of brightness used. The whole range comes with DOS 3.21, Rechargeable NiCad Clip-on battery backs and mains charger-adaptors with built-in overcharging protection and 110/240 volt autosensing, making the machines portable anywhere in the world. The SupersPORT claims a useful battery life of four to five hours, the 286 three hours and the 386 two hours, although this model has a fastcharge facility which allows recharging in two rather than the normal eight hours. Both the 286 and 386 machines will run under MS-DOS, OS/2 or Xenix operating systems and are claimed to be the first portables to use zero wait state technology. Other innovations include advanced power management which optimises battery life by conserving power while the computer is switched on but is not being used. Prices quoted are UKP1,395 for the Model 2 and UKP2,595 for the model 20 with the 286 priced at UKP3,195 and UKP3,195 respectively for the 20Mb and 40Mb versions – limited availability mid-May. The TurbosPORT retails at UKP4,995 and arrives August or September. Other options include a carrying case (included with the SupersPORT Models 2 and 20), an internal V22 BIS Hayes compatible modem and external expansion box.

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