Review of NEC UltraLite (DAK)

Sy Ali (syali@sybil.cs.Buffalo.EDU)
4 Apr 91 02:35:34 GMT

Hi Folks,

Heres my review. Sorry it took so long but I've been busy. I got mucho
requests for it, so I'm posting this.

Limited storage (1 or 2meg), block size is 4K.
Keyboard is not full-travel, sometimes hard to tell if key pressed.
Screen impossible to read when scrolling.
Limited DOS 3.3 in ROM.
Short battery life (2hrs).
Keyboard layout nonstandard.
640K Ram
NEC V30 processor (9.54/4Mhz).
AC adaptor bulky (1.5lbs) and unwieldy.
Battery rated for 2hrs.
Only one low battery light (goes on when battery low).
No disk ($199 extra, 1.5lb, 3.5" 1.44M/720K).
No parallel port (must get adaptor or disk drive).
Manuals are designed for a business user (somewhat useless).

Seems solidly built.
Base unit very light (4.4lb) and portable (real laptop).
Builtin 2400 baud modem.
Screen OK (except when scrolling), CGA, 7 shades of grey.
No moving parts to wear out.
Adjustable contrast.
Quiet keyboard (good for typing at meetings).
Claim battery is special that won't have "memory" problems.
Comes with all cables, null modem (etc) and LapLink.

Seems good for me, as I wanted a light portable laptop for note-taking
and entry on the go (classes and meetings). Thus, I'm not a power user.
I have access to numerous powerful machines at school and will use it
primarily as my "thesis" machine.

I ended getting the 1MG machine and a 3.5" disk so my final cost
was $914 (cost + shipping). If you are really going to be transferring
large stuff frequently (from the laptop to a real machine) I recommend you
get the disk as LapLink is rather slow. I can read the disks on SPARCS
using mtools.

Now, for that price you can get a T1000SE (or a machine with a HD),
so you have to decide what features are important to you. For me it's
a good machine. It runs all software I tried (a lot of small PCMAG
utilities), although the latest version of FILEC caused problems.

Biggest problem I have with it is the small (1MG) HD. This fills up real
fast, especially as the block size is 4K. For small COM files you gotta
use XEQ! Additionly you want to LZEXE or PKLITE your files. I have
all my utilities and STEVIE (vi) & MG (emacs) installed and working fine,
with about 300K left on the HD. Microsoft Works (2.0) came with it, but thats
a joke as it is HUGE (anybody wanna buy a copy of Microsoft Works 2.0?).
They wanted $199 for the extra meg which I thought was a bit much.
This is DEFINITELY not a machine for users of large applications.
On the plus side, the silicon HD is fast and quiet.

As I said, they rate the battery life as 2hrs and its clearly less if
you're using the modem. You can maximize battery life by slowing down
the speed & dimming the backlighting. They claim it takes about 10 hrs to
recharge (seems about right), so I plug it in around outlets and
overnight. I've yet to push it to the limit so I'm not sure what the "real"
battery life is (I'm always around outlets). Oh, and they claim their
battery won't memory. The silicon HD has a separate battery that will
keep the contents for a week (thus you must recharge once a week).
BTW, the disk drive WON'T work unless the laptop is plugged into an AC outlet!

Well thats all I can think of now. If you have any questions, email me.

BTW, is anyone out there interested in an UltraLite mailing list, if
so email me.

Cheers, Sy.

Internet:           UUCP: syali@sunybcs.uucp
Syed Ali, Dept. of CS, 226 Bell Hall, SUNY@Buffalo, Buffalo NY 14260.
``It's not what you do; it's who sees you do it!''