Color, a 486, CD-ROM and under 7 lbs
Panasonic's CF-V21P laptop
by Alan Zisman (c) 1994. First
in Our Computer Player, April 15, 1994
Last time I got a notebook to review, about a year
ago, it featured
a colour screen and a 386SL CPU. It was nice, but with desktops moving
solidly into 486 territory, it couldn't really keep up with the larger
computers in processing power.
There are still good reasons to buy a desktop, not the
least of which
is price, but the performance of good portables is getting closer and
to what you'll find permanently taking up space on your desk.
Take Panasonic's new CF-V21P, for example. It's a 5-7
with a 486DX-2/50 processor. Plenty fast. A reasonable 200 meg hard
A base 4 meg of ram. And a lovely, bright active matrix colour screen,
displaying 256 colours at 640x480 resolution.
Then there're a few features not available on my
a PCMCIA slot that will accept a single Type 3 or two Type 2 cards,
could be anything from modems to ethernet to additional hard drives,
The floppy drive pops out and can be replaced with a 3
1/2" CD-ROM player
(not available on my demo unit, and no, I don't know where you'll be
to get 3 1/2" CD-ROM disks).
A miniature trackball built into the compact, but
A removable screen, that can be flipped around, making
usable for pen input (Pen Windows is pre-installed). I didn't get a
and thus I was unable to test this feature.
My favorite feature is the auto-resume. Turn off the
power... even in
Windows. Turn it back on, even a day or more later, and it's instant
just as you left it. No need to re-boot. Why can't I have that on my
There are a few catches... It still takes some getting
used to the slightly
smaller than normal keyboard, and some non-standard key placements. The
mini-trackball, while conveniently located front and center, is still a
taste I haven't quite acquired.
The hard drive, while spacious, was unaccountably
slow, at least as
measured by Windows Magazine's benchmarks.
Both the powerful CPU and the active matrix screen
drain battery power.
Even with power management, I only managed about an hour and 3/4
recharges. You can work while the machine is charging, or you can load
a second battery, but you can't fly coast to coast, working
with this machine.
But that power-hungry screen is a joy to work with.
Less expensive passive-matrix
colour screens (even the much improved double-scan models) offer much
contrast. Here, colours are fully saturated, and the screen is clearly
viewable from a wide range of angles. The mouse arrow doesn't
no matter how quickly it's moved around the screen-- no need for
And if you want, you can connect a standard SVGA
monitor and even a
standard keyboard and mouse, and enjoy the best of desktop-like
The built in video supports resolutions up to 1024 by 768, when using
external monitor, even though the active matrix screen is limited to
Of course the biggest limitation to portables such as
this one, compared
to desktops, remains price. Expect to pay a hefty premium for this
portability and power-- you could buy two desktops with similar specs
the price of this one.
I have to give this one back at the end of the week...
but I'd happily
keep it longer, say just until something better comes along. Very few
us absolutely NEED such a nice portable, but it's an awfully nice thing
to WANT to have.