Keynote 7700 provides a weighty choice

While many competitors have made a point of minimizing the size and weight of their notebooks, Keydata International Inc. takes a different approach with its 300 MHz Keynote 7700, building a larger model stocked with exceptional security features and an exciting integrated CCD camera for videoconfe

While many competitors have made a point of minimizing the size and weight of their notebooks, Keydata International Inc. takes a different approach with its 300 MHz Keynote 7700, building a larger model stocked with exceptional security features and an exciting integrated CCD camera for videoconferencing.

In our Dec. 7, 1998, review of 300 MHz Intel Corp. Pentium II processor notebooks, affordability and innovation were key factors for agencies to consider when deciding what system to buy. Many notebooks fell into two categories: small and expensive, and large and affordable. The Keynote 7700 joins the ranks of the large and affordable systems - such as Compaq Computer Corp.'s Armada 7400, Dell Computer Corp.'s Latitude CPi D300XT and Gateway Inc.'s Solo 2500LS (which took first place in the review).

The Keynote 7700 features a very good 13.3-inch XGA color TFT display with easily adjustable contrast controls on the keyboard. It has 512K of Level 2 cache, a 4.3G hard drive, 16-bit audio, a Universal Serial Bus port, an infrared port, two Type II PC Card slots and a lithium-ion battery. Our unit arrived with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 98 loaded on the system. And with 64M of RAM, the Keynote 7700 packs plenty of memory for computer-based training, word processing and presentations.

While hefty at 9 pounds, 4.2 ounces (with power cord), the Keynote 7700 makes a strong argument with its extensive features, including removable DVD-ROM and floppy drives. Our user panel rated the screen and keyboard quality very good.

Marketed for its security features, the Keynote 7700 provides the ultimate in data security with three levels of protection: physical, boot and hard disk.

The Keynote 7700's physical security consists of two Kensington locks. Keydata also offers boot security with BIOS password encryption. The 32-bit encryption ensures that the password cannot be decrypted or destroyed from the on-board memory. The BIOS program, which prohibits the system from booting without the 32-bit encrypted password, provides extremely high security for government agencies where data protection can be tantamount.

But the quintessential security feature of the Keynote 7700 is the hard disk security. Keydata has implemented 32-bit password protection on the hard drive. Users without this password could not unlock the data on the hard drive even if they moved the drive to another system.

Another notable aspect of the Keynote 7700 is the CCD camera embedded above the display. The camera, combined with the 56 kilobits/sec modem, 100 megabits/

sec Ethernet and IEEE 1394 network interfaces, and Cyberlink Corp.'s LinkTel 3.14 software, make the Keynote 7700 a viable videoconferencing solution.

Keep in mind that light is an important commodity when using the camera because images can be hard to recognize without sufficient background lighting. While motions are slightly delayed, the camera provides a clear representation of the operator.

The Keynote 7700 does have one quirk users need to know about. While memory can range up to 192M, Keydata makes upgrades tough for users. For starters, Keydata does not include upgrade instructions, and the manual fails to specify where memory is located in the notebook.

This oversight would be bad enough for a notebook with memory located in a standard area (such as underneath the keyboard or on the bottom of the unit). But in the case of the Keynote 7700, the location is so bizarre that we still had trouble figuring it out when a representative was describing it to us over the phone. To access the memory, you must remove what looks like part of the hinge between the screen and the body of the unit.

The Keynote 7700 provides decent performance, scoring 111 on Business Applications Performance Corp.'s SYSmark/98 benchmark, which would have placed it near the bottom of the bunch in our December comparison but only slightly lower than most of the other systems (and tied with Dell's Latitude CPi D300XT).

Likewise, the Keynote 7700's battery life turned out to be a bit short, lasting two hours, 31 minutes and seven seconds on the SYSmark/98 For Battery Life test. However, for extra-long usage, an additional lithium-ion battery (which can be swapped with the floppy drive) is available as an option.

In deciding what kind of notebook to buy, one of the first questions to consider is whether to purchase a hefty desktop replacement or a lightweight travel companion. The Keynote 7700 falls into the hefty category, but it still makes the choice difficult with its high-end security and videoconferencing capabilities. For anyone in the market for notebooks, the Keynote 7700 has great potential if size doesn't matter.

***

Keydata International Inc.

(703) 264-0800

www.keydatafed.com

Price and Availability

Available on the GSA schedule for $2,495.

Remarks

The Keynote 7700 gave an impressive presentation with its addition of a CCD camera and three levels of security. With very good performance and an overall decent package, the Keynote 7700 has only two drawbacks: its weight and its battery life. While it is a great desktop replacement system, users should think twice if they want a lightweight, long-lasting system.

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