Gateway Handbook 486: Reveiw

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Tom Metcalf

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Dec 15, 1993, 5:08:16 PM12/15/93
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Gateway Handbook 486 -- Review


I recently got my Handbook 486 (the DX2/40 version) and thought some
on the net would like to hear comments on the machine.

Summary: A remarkable machine! This is the perfect subnotebook for
my purposes. I am very happy with the Handbook and with
Gateway.

Gateway:

When I ordered the machine, the sales person I spoke with was
very friendly and promised the machine in 3-4 weeks. I got the
machine after 3.5 weeks.

I have spoken to technical support several times and have found
the people I spoke with to be very helpful.

Keyboard:

My primary concern before ordering the Handbook was the reduced keyboard.
I was worried that I would have a hard time going back and forth
between a full size keyboard and the gateway keyboard.

I have not had any trouble. In fact I like the keyboard very much. The
keys have a nice feel to them.

Screen:

The screen is fine for me. I do not have a lot of experience looking at
LCD screens, so I can't intelligently compare the handbook screen
to others, but it seems crisp and easy to read to me.

The screen is "squashed" a bit, so that the 640x480 VGA will fit in
the small box. For text writing I have not noticed any problems with
this. The only graphics I do is in WordPerfect, and I can easily
resize the graphics objects to the proper aspect ratio. So, this is
not a problem for me, but some may find it annoying, depending on your
application.

External Floppy:

Very nice and remarkably compact. Well worth the $99.

Cables:

The handbook came with a full set of cables to connect to the outside
world. I installed MS-KERMIT and got the handbook talking to my Sun
workstation on the first try.

Batteries:

I seem to get about 1.25 hours of very intensive use off a battery
charge. I had hoped for a bit more, but this is acceptable since I
have two battery pacs.

The AC adaptor is a bit on the large side, but does fit in the handbook's
case.

With the power management set to "Maximum Power Savings" in the power
management screen (Fn-Esc), the machine is noticeably slower, but the
time on batteries is noticeably longer ... a user selectable tradeoff.

Software:

The handbook came with DOS 6.2 and Windows 3.1. I installed
WordPerfect 6.0 for windows, Quattro Pro 5.0 for windows and
Turbo C++ 3.2 for windows. All work fine on the handbook.

Problems:

A number of problems with power management and windows crashes have been
discussed on the net.

The handbook arrived with the windows type set to "MS-DOS with APM"
which is the correct setting to avoid the crashes in windows. I have
never had a windows crash. The latest version of BIOS was also
installed when I got the machine.

Some have reported that the keyboard locks up when the low battery
light comes on. I also had this problem, but a call to technical
support seems to have cleared this up. They gave me a few
modifications to the config.sys file (appended below). In particular,
I took out the power.exe line and rely on the built in power manager
(Fn-Esc). I now have at least five minutes to clean up my work when the
low power light comes on before the machine turns itself off. I have
not experienced a lockup since.

With these modifications, I get roughly twice the time on a battery
charge and I avoid the lockups. It seems that the DOS power.exe does
not work well with the handbook.

The only remaining problem I have is that the handbook locks up whenever
I change the CPU performance setting in the power management screen
(Fn-Esc). If this is changed, the computer will either lock up or
reboot itself. Since you will probably set this once and forget about
it, you might think that this is not a problem. However, I have the
battery setting different from the AC setting, so whenever I change from
battery to AC, I get a lockup/reboot.

This problem does not concern me too much since it is predictable and
does not occur at random.

CONFIG.SYS

DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS
REM DEVICE=C:\DOS\POWER.EXE ADV:MAX
DEVICE=C:\UTILS\PMEXT.SYS
DOS=HIGH,UMB
STACKS=9,256
FILES=50
BUFFERS=17
DEVICE=C:\CARDSOFT\SSCIRRUS.EXE
DEVICE=C:\CARDSOFT\CS.EXE
DEVICE=C:\CARDSOFT\CSALLOC.EXE C:\CARDSOFT\CSALLOC.INI
REM DEVICE=C:\CARDSOFT\ATADRV.EXE
REM DEVICE=C:\CARDSOFT\SRAMDRV.EXE
DEVICE=C:\CARDSOFT\CARDID.EXE


AUTOEXEC.BAT

@ECHO OFF
PROMPT $P$G
C:\DOS\SMARTDRV.EXE
PATH=C:\;C:\DOS;C:\WINDOWS;
SET TEMP=C:\TEMP
WIN


--


Michael J. Yelland

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Dec 16, 1993, 12:33:12 PM12/16/93
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we had a handbook die after a few months. GW's had it for 4
weeks now,...
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