Cumulus GLC. (desktop computer) (Evaluation)
by Peer Plaut
The Cumulus GLC arrived in a box so big, I immediately felt I was getting my money's worth. After trying out this well-equipped desktop machine, I've decided it does indeed offer a lot of value.
This computer is a sturdy, medium-sized desktop with nice lines. Opening the case was simple: I took out four screws and popped the top. It came the way I like to see machines configured--standard with 4MB of SIMM (Single In-line Memory Module) memory, easily upgradable to 32MB on the board.
While I'm not a design engineer, I couldn't help but wonder if the motherboard design (two boards stacked closely on top of each other) would tend to overheat. The microprocessor, an Intel 330MHz DX type, ran all test software with no problems. Four 16-bit expansion slots leave plenty of room for your favorite expansion cards.
While the handy integrated fax/modem/answering board did take up one slot, the remaining three should cover most of your add-on needs. The 40MB Conner hard drive checked in at 23 milliseconds read-access time, according to SpinRite II. I recommend a larger drive since, with today's hefty software, you can outgrow a 40MB hard drive pretty quickly. You should also be aware that, because of the hardware configuration, this computer will probably require repair by Cumulus in the event of a breakdown.
Setup is easy. There were two setup guides (a standard "covers all" guide and a mouse setup guide), both to the point. The Cumulus GLC comes with software already installed. Plug in the monitor, throw the coveniently located power switch, and welcome your Cumulus home.
Controls for the Cumulus are very accessible; all are located conveniently in the front of the computer. The Reset and Turbo switches reside next to each other.
The standard VGA 640 x 480 monitor can support 256 colors if you take advantage of an optional memory upgrade. At .39, the dot pitch leaves room for improvement, and I recommended ordering a .28 pitch monitor from Cumulus. To support super VGA with all available colors, you'll have to purchase a Cumulus video memory upgrade, which isn't user-installable.
The Cumulus also comes bundled with Windows 3.0 and Microsoft Works 2.0. First-time computer buyers deserve more than C:> upon booting their machine. With Windows and Microsoft Works installed, you just turn on the computer, point the mouse, click it, and you're running an application.
As for the Voice Data Fax (VDF), I skipped most of the documentation and worked directly with the software to access the board's powerful features, which says a lot about how well the software was written. The intermediate user shouldn't have any trouble figuring out how the VDF board works. It sends and receives most commonly used graphic formats easily with very good resolution.
Technical support doesn't offer a toll-free number. However, if all lines are busy, a representative will take your number and call you back. Trying to find the Cumulus support number is easier than with most other computer makers; the telephone number was inside the front cover of every Cumulus setup manual.