Tadpole-RDI offers a 'luggable' Unix

Our theme in the accompanying workstation comparison is choice, which for Unix systems does not end at the desktop. If you need portable Unix, you have choices as well. Tadpole-RDI Inc. offers several options for users who need portable, binary compatibility with Unix hardware. The bill is large, however.

We looked at Tadpole-RDI's PrecisionBook, which offers a portable HP-UX solution. Portable is a good word to describe the PrecisionBook, because its size makes "notebook" an inaccurate term. Weighing 8.5 pounds and measuring 2.3 by 12.84 by 11.66 inches, the PrecisionBook is a throwback to the early days of the notebook computer, when "luggable" frequently was used to describe them.

For your trouble, though, you get a portable HP Visualize B-Class workstation running a 132 or 180 MHz PA-RISC processor with 128M to 512M of RAM and 4G to 12G of disk space. The system includes all the connectors you would expect, including SCSI and 10Base-T Ethernet.

Given the PrecisionBook's bulk, we were disappointed that an internal CD-ROM is not an option; you have to connect an external one to the SCSI port.

Also, the price for the system tested, which had 256M of RAM and a 180 MHz processor, is $18,880. That's a lot of dough; it will buy any of the systems in the workstation comparison, all of which clean the PrecisionBook's clock in performance, and still leave enough change to buy a nice Intel Corp.-based notebook.

In addition to the HP-UX PrecisionBook, Tadpole-RDI offers portable Solaris solutions based on SPARC and UltraSPARC chips. These include a smaller SPARCbook, which should be easier to lug around, the UltraBook, which packs UltraSPARC performance into a portable configuration, and a portable UltraSPARC server.

If you need portable HP-UX or SPARC Solaris solutions, Tadpole-RDI is the only choice we have seen, but if you simply need portable Unix, you have a lot of choices. You can run Solaris as well as a host of free Unix operating systems such as Linux, NetBSD and FreeBSD on Intel-based notebook computers, starting at one-tenth the cost of the Tadpole-RDI solution. You'll probably get better performance on some of these systems as well, with their 300-plus MHz Pentium II processors.

If you need portable, binary-compatible HP-UX or SPARC Solaris, check out the line of systems from Tadpole-RDI. If you simply need portable Unix, run it on a smaller, cheaper and faster Intel-based notebook.

*****

PrecisionBook—Grade: BTadpole-RDI Inc.(800) 734-5483www.tadpolerdi.com

Price and AvailabilityGSA schedule pricing is $18,880.

RemarksIt's bulky, not that fast and costs $18,000, but it's a portable HP-UX workstation. If you need this type of solution, the PrecisionBook is one of the few choices you have. If you simply need portable Unix, buy an Intel Corp.-based notebook and run Unix on it.

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