The Blazer II notebook gives Digitec its 15 minutes of IT fame with the fastest laptop in South Africa. SEAN BACHER puts it through the Gadget Four Question User Test.
Having the fastest PC in the world is a precarious position to hold. It`s a little bit like being a world champion boxer and continuously having to look over your shoulder for that other big guy just waiting to knock you out. However, even the proverbial 15 minutes of fame is good stuff while it lasts. In the spotlight right now is the new Digitec Blazer II, a notebook PC powered by an Intel Pentium 4 1GHz (1000MHz) CPU. The big deal here is that round 1000 before the MHz – a few weeks ago all the money in the world could only buy a mere 933 MHz model, no matter where you tried to buy.
Digitec is South Africa`s premier home-grown notebook brand and continuously outsmarts even the world brands in getting the latest technology to market. The Digitec Blazer II is no exception and it seems as if no other manufacturer can yet deliver a 1000MHz notebook PC. This particular model is supplied with 256Mbytes of Ram and a 10Gigbyte hard drive. The price of buying the very latest technology is high. If you`ve configured your PC on the Digitec website, you come to realise that the 1000MHz chip alone sets you back about R5500. The 933MHz CPU is only half that, so consider carefully whether you really want the fastest.
We put the Blazer through The Gadget Four Question User Test. Here`s what we found:
1. Is it easy to use?
The question really boils down to whether PCs are easy to use. If you`re familiar with them, they are. On a notebook PC it also helps to look at the main controls such as the power button. Is it easy to find, and do you have to twiddle your fingers to turn it off are the two main questions I ask.
Yes, the Blazer`s On button is obvious and works as you would expect.
The Blazer also has three quick launch buttons which launch your mail nnnclient, Internet browser and Explorer, or anything else you wish to assign to them.
A touchpad moves the pointer around and these require some getting used to but if you want, you can always plug a plain old-fashioned mouse into the PS2 port. The laptop also has a microphone built in for lazy users who have pretences of voice dictation.
2. Is it ready to use?
Yes. Switch it on and watch as the Pentium 4 1000MHz CPU fires up and tests the 256Mbytes of RAM. Windows launches reasonably quickly although I don`t think it will ever load up fast enough. There is a slot for a PC-card, but I doubt you will ever need to use it as this notebook has a network adapter, modem and even an infra-red port as standard.
The Digitec Blazer II is fitted with a 24X CD-Rom, however you can upgrade that to DVD or even a CD-Writer.
3. Does it operate as advertised?
Yes, it is as fast as the chip speed tacitly suggests. Launching Windows is noticeably faster and complex graphics applications perform like Notepad on a simple text document.
The CD-Rom will read data and play music, the speakers bring a near nnnsurround sound experience and connectivity via the two USB ports gives you quick access to printers, mice, keyboards, cameras and PDAs. There is even a fire-wire port but compatible devices are rare and expensive.
4. Is it value for money?
Yes, definitely. If you compare the price (R 24 250-00 incl. vat) with that of a US branded product, you`ll only get a 833MHz model for the same money. Further, with Digitec, you only pay for the bits you want and you don`t have to buy unnecessary components. You can configure and order your new machine from the Digitec website. You options include a DVD or CD-Writer, a carry bag or Kensington lock. You can even opt for a bigger display if you plan to use your machine for large spreadsheets or games