Zenith Computers has a winner.
The Zenith SupersPort 286, pound for pound, clearly is the best laptop going.It takes no more than 30 minutes from the time you open the box to get the SuperPort 286 up and running.
This computer carries on with Zenith's trendsetting display - and this one is brighter than earlier models.
The machine is not the lightest in its class, nor by any means the least costly, but it deserves serious consideration. Its advantages far outweigh what I regard are very few shortcomings.
The computing speed of 12Mhz make this unit a power user's delight.
My review unit came with a 40MB hard disk. The SupersPort 286 can also be purchased with a 20MB hard disk, which for many users will be sufficient. If you tend to create large files or need to carry a number of large programs, the 40MB drive should be your choice.
The keyboard is a very comfortable 79-key full function board. The standard-size keys have a solid, comfortable feel, making the SuperPort 286 easy to use for long periods.
But the keyboard lacks a separate calculator pad. You can emulate a calculator pad by locking on defined keys, but I found that to be inconvenient.
Also, the insert and delete keys should be located at the bottom right - where they are on standard keyboards - instead of the upper right, where they are found on the SuperPort 286.
Both of these are personal dislikes and did not slow down my use of the computer.
The display has only one minor drawback. It is difficult to use in very bright direct light. The only way I found to overcome the problem is to sit with the the screen tilted slightly forward - letting it make its own shade.
Otherwise, I have yet to find a display to match the SuperPort 286's combination of crisp quality of output and size of display. The display size is a 10.5-inch diagonal, which is only 2 inches smaller than a standard computer terminal.
The unit comes with a CGA adapter as standard equipment. An RGB monitor can be plugged in via the unit's standard 9-pin D connector. The SuperPort's double-hinged display can be tilted back flat so the monitor can be placed on a platform above the unit.
There is provision for adding an 80C287 math co-processor and detachable numeric keypad.
Internal modems can be used and, for a laptop, I would consider them to be standard equipment. Zenith provides either 1200 or 2400 baud modems as accessories. Both are Hayes-compatible.
Zenith also has a 3-slot expansion chasis available for PC/XT compatible cards.
The battery pack supplied with my unit gave me more than four hours of power. Considering I had a hard disk in operation, this is outstanding performance. The unit gives you about 10 minutes warning that you are losing power, long enough to save what you are doing, back out of your program and power down.
It takes 12 hours to fully recharge the battery.
The setup program offers several power-saving options. These include a screen dimmer and hard-disk powerdown. If you do not touch the keyboard or access the hard disk for a (user specified) period, the computer automatically powers them down.
You can also "tell" the computer to shut off power to the serial port if you are not using it, thereby conserving even more battery power.
The unit weighs in at just under 20 pounds. This includes computer, battery pack, carrying case, power supply for AC operation, extension cord (which I consider mandatory equipment) and operator's manual.
While 20 pounds is not something to laugh at, it is a portable weight considering what this computer gives you. I do wish, however, that someone would invent a comfortable shoulder pad.
The unit comes supplied with 1 MB of RAM as standard.
The hard disks, both 20MB and 40MB, are fast 28ms drives. The floppy is a 1.4MB drive.