NEC Ready 425. (microcomputer) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Mike Hudnall
If you're looking for NEC quality and engineering but are new to computing and don't have elaborate plans for expanding a computer, take a look at the NEC Ready 425.
The name Ready says it all. Once you've unpacked the system and made the necessary connections, it's ready to go. That's because NEC has preconfigured it and preinstalled all the software that comes with it. If you haven't set up a computer before, don't worry. NEC includes a quick-setup sheet and a video to walk you through the steps. Once the system's up and running, you'll find an online tutorial explaining how to use your Ready. NEC provides manuals for DOS and Windows in addition to the Ready's first-rate user's manual, which is thorough, well illustrated, and well written. If you should run into trouble that you can't remedy yourself, just dial up NEC'S ReadyRemote service, through which NEC technicians can check out your system and help you come up with a solution.
The Ready comes with plenty of software, leaving you ready to create a database, a spreadsheet, or a chart; write reports; avoid viruses; send a fax; download a file; and use your Ready for countless other computing activities. In addition to MS-DOS and Windows 3.1, you get PFS:WindowWorks, Quicken for Windows, and WinFax UltraLITE.
The standard hardware leaves you ready to handle most computing challenges. You get 3 1/2-inch and 5 1/4-inch high-density floppy drives, a 170MB 3 1/2-inch IDE hard drive, a built-in fax/ data modem (2400 bps for data, 9600 bps for fax transmission, and 4800 bps for fax reception), and a monitor capable of 1024 x 768 pixels with 256 colors. Because the PS/2 mouse port, keyboard port, parallel port, serial port, and video adapter are all built into the motherboard, all three of the system's full-length 16-bit slots are available for any boards you might wish to add. The system comes with 4MB of RAM, upgradable to 64MB using SIMMS. You also get 1MB of video RAM for the adapter and an upgradable BIOS from Phoenix. Should you ever decide to speed up your Ready, NEC provides a press-pin socket for an Intel overdrive processor.
I like the sleek design and easy access (one simple cover release) of the system box, the pleasing tactile and auditory feedback of the keyboard, and the comfortable and responsive operation of the NEC mouse. The Ready 1024 monitor performed very well on the whole. Its .28-mm dot pitch made text easy to read for long periods of time, and this monitor didn't give me the exaggerated bounce I find on so many monitors when I shift between text and graphics modes.
No system is perfect for every user, and there are some things I missed in this system. NEC didn't include a reset button, you have to request and pay shipping and handling for floppy copies of the software, and there are no available bays for adding drives. If you want a CD-ROM drive, a tape drive, or some other drive, you'll have to opt for an external version. Because of the highly integrated system board and because the fax/data modem doesn't take one of the bus slots, the three available slots will be enough for many users - but not for all.
These problems can be worked around and won't affect the needs of many COMPUTE readers. In fact, if your computing needs aren't heavy-duty, you may well be ready for this attractive and well-engineered system from NEC.