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Filling the Portable Gap

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Apple recently announced a delay in the hoped-for updated version of its Macintosh Portable computer system, originally scheduled for release at this Macworld Expo. Rumours had suggested that the new computer would include a lighter battery assembly and a backlit liquid crystal display, taking care of two of the most pervasive complaints about the original Portable.

Other rumours in the same field focus on Apple's joint efforts with Sony to develop a significantly smaller and lighter portable Mac, and on Apple's purchase of technology developed by Outbound Systems and subsequent licensing of that same technology back to Outbound.

Outbound is one of several vendors trying to fill the demand for portable Macintosh computing. Another vendor, with several new products for the portable arena, is Dynamac Computer Products, Inc.

Taking advantage of Apple's new Macintosh LC, Dynamac has introduced three items that should fill many people's needs for portability and power. The first is the Dynamac IIsf, originally code named the "StarFighter"), a battery-operated laptop with a backlit liquid crystal Kyocera display, a built-in UnMouse[tm] TouchPad graphics tablet, support for external Apple 12" and 13" monitors, and, at its heart, a Macintosh LC logic board with a 68020 microprocessor. An enhanced version, the IIsf/30, offers a 68030 processor and 68882 math coprocessor, a data/fax modem, and extended video capabilities for handling external monitors.

Dynamac also offers new options for users who want their LC's intact, but not tied to their desks, including the LCDisplay and the LCPortable. The LCDisplay is a 640 by 480 flat-panel display unit with an easel stand on the back and a recess in the front to hold Apple's new LC microphone. The LCPortable takes that a couple of steps further, including a battery in the back for three to six hours of operation, and the LCPower bundle of 68030 CPU and 68882 coprocessor, to enhance the LC's performance much the same way the Dynamac IIsf package does.

Just as revolutionary as Dynamac's new products is its three-year "TLC" (Traveler's Logistics Center) Warranty. For a period of three years from purchase, TLC offers both-way FedEx shipping of a covered computer if it needs repairs with one-day repair turnaround at the other end, or Dynamac will ship repair parts overnight so users can perform their own repairs.

Less headline-making but still newsworthy is Outbound. Outbound introduced its original Outbound Laptop System in March of 1990, offering a compact, lightweight laptop system requiring a Mac Plus or SE ROM chip to make it complete. Improvements since then include a bundled Microsoft Mouse, for those who can't stand the "Isopoint[tm]" rolling-bar pointing device, an external floppy drive, and a "SCSI Adapter and Emulator" that allows users to connect the Outbound to any SCSI-equipped Mac.

Outbound's new offerings at this week's Expo included a line-powered, 2.4 ounce, pocket-sized portable modem; a software-based numeric keypad emulation utility, a soon-to-be-released universal power supply, and Outbound support for the Mac 512KE and the Mac Classic.

Despite the disappointment from Apple, it seems that Mac enthusiasts who need portability and power without the excess weight or premium prices won't have to wait any longer. Apple may not have their juggling act together, but companies like Dynamac and Outbound should keep the market up in the air for a while.

Dynamac Computer Products -- 303/296-0606 -- 800/234-2349
Outbound Systems, Inc. -- 303/786-9200

 

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