Although the Macintosh portable market has only begun to offer a few costly alternatives, the IBM portable market offers many choices with features rapidly increasing as prices rapidly decrease. Friends who attended PC- Expo in New York City were particularly impressed by an upcoming notebook computer by Airis called the VH-286.
Due to ship in September, the 80286 computer comes standard with a 2400 baud internal modem, 2.5" 20 megabyte hard disk, 256K disk cache, 2 megs RAM, and a backlit LCD screen supporting VGA graphics and 16 shades of gray. All this in a 6.5 pound computer (that includes battery weight) for $1899. (It's sold directly by Airis, so there is no dealer mark down.)
The computer has two battery options. The first is a bit unusual-10 C cell batteries that should last for about 12 hours. The second is an optional (extra cost) rechargeable Nicad battery pack that should last 6 to 8 hours. The only possible fly in this computer's ointment is a lack of an internal floppy drive. An external drive can be purchased for it, but if you don't want to purchase one, you can use the bundled LapLink software to transfer your files to another PC. Whether or not this will be a problem will depend on individual situations and work styles.
The VH-286 should be a highly competitive product. In Toshiba's popular line of portables, we find the cheapest 80286 machine listing for $3,999 and weighing in at 7.9 pounds. It comes standard with a 20 meg hard disk, a floppy drive, 1 meg of RAM, and an LCD backlit screen supporting CGA graphics. An internal modem costs another $349 list. Compaq's similarly priced 286 machine, the LTE 286/20, comes with a 20 meg hard disk, a floppy drive, 640K RAM, and an LCD sidelit screen supporting CGA. Looking though a PC laptops comparison chart in the July 1990 issue of PC Today, the cheapest listed 286 was the Kandu KL-3774. It comes standard with a 40 meg hard disk, 1 meg of RAM, and an EGA screen. It can be purchased, street price, for around $1500.
This comparison does not take into account all factors (mainly expansion capabilities, since we don't have their complete specs), but we can all look forward to faster, cheaper, lighter, portables in the future. Its's likely that MacOS portables will be forced to follow suit to become competitive. DOS may be a headache for many Mac users, but many would take a modicum of computer confusion over difficulties associated with a large assault on their financial assets or with dragging around a heavy Mac luggable (I'm a fairly standard female-person-type, and the Mac portable is just barely luggable for me).
Airis Computer Corp. -- 312/384-5608
Stan Deutsch -- Columbia Pictures, MIS
PC Today, PC Classifieds Database
Tonya Byard -- TidBITS editor
InfoWorld -- 02-Jul-90, Vol. 12 #27, pg. 21