ADDS PC-I; subsidiary of NCR counts on customer loyalty to make the PC-I a success. (evaluation) Russ Lockwood.
Although new to the personal computer market, Applied Digital Data Systems, a subsidiary of NCR, is no newcomer to the computer field. The company started selling computer display terminals in 1969 and boasts an isntalled base of more than 500,000 terminals worldwide. Indeed, ADDS is marketing the PC/I primarily to this base rather than to the first time small business user--although it certainly will not turn away a customer.
Like the IBM PC, the PC/I consists of three components: display, detachable keyboard, and system unit housing the cpu, disk drives, and electronic innards of the system. The PC/I also offers a few features not found on the IBM PC. System Unit
The system unit sports the same boxy lines as most PC compatibles, holds two half-height disk drives, and displays the corporate name twice. So far, nothing special. However, ADDS places system unit, a practical improvement over the IBM PC. Should a program freeze up the system and the usual Ctrl-Alt-Del sequence prove ineffective, a quick press of the reset button saves you the trouble of turning the system off and on.
Inside the system unit, the usual 16-bit 8088 microprocessor, 256K RAM, and 165 ROM (expandable to 48K) reside on the motherboard. The PC/I supports the 8087 numeric co-processor, and five expansion slots allow you to install memory, modem, and other expansion boards. One serial and one parallel port are standard.
In running Ahl's Simple Benchmark Test, the PC/I performs the test in a respectable 18 seconds, with a 0.005859375 accuracy rating, and a random number rating of 7.2.
The system unit also houses two half-height disk drives--again, with standard 360K storage capacity for floppy disks. For those with larger requirements, an optional 10Mb Winchester hard disk drive is available. While the floppy drives on our machine worked flawlessly, they made an awful racket when they were accessed.
The PC/I goes through a reassuring diagnostic self-Test each time you power up the machine. Keyboard
The detactable ADDS PC/I keyboard is basically a carbon copy of the IBM PC keyboard. It connects to the system unit via a six-foot coiled cord. The keyboard is slant adjustable; it has three height settings--one more than the IBM PC keyboard. The keys are well sculpted, and the feel of the keyboard is fair to good. Keystrokes are quiet, with little aural feedback.
Most of the fortes and foibles of the IBM PC keyboard apply to the ADDS PC/I keyboard. The Shift and Returned keys are not in their proper places; there is no Enter key on the numeric keypad; and cryptic arrows, rather than English labels cover the Tab, Backspace, Return, and Shift keys. Adds does include LEDs on the Num Lock and Caps Lock keys. The keys on the numeric keypad doubles as cursor control keys and include Home, end, Page up, and Page down functions.
ADDS also smoothed over the ridge running along the top of the keyboard, an unwise move since you cannot prop a book or manual between the keyboard and system unit. Display
The PC/I supports three types of monitor: monochrome, composite color, and RGB color. Our unit came with a 12" monochrome (green) monitor, but ADDS sells amber and soft white screen monochrome monitors as well.
The monitor mounts on a pedestal that tilts roughly 20 degrees upward and swivels all the way around from side to side. This helps position the screen for the most comfortable viewing angle. Contrast and brightness knobs adjust the display, and a separate power switch lets you turnthe monitor on and off independently.
We also connected a Sakata RGB monitor to the video display and color graphics adapter. It worked without a hitch.
Like the IBM PC, the ADDS PC/I flickers while scrolling. However, to our eyes, the PC/I flicker seems more pronounced than that of the PC. Also, the video cable connecting the monitor to the system unit is not long enough to permit the monitor to swivel fully if you place the monitor at the side of the system unit. Of course, this is not a problem if you place the monitor on top of the system unit.
Character resolution is 25 rows of 80 characters, with the character set the same as that of the IBM PC. The display has the usual IBM PC graphics resolution of 640 pixels by 400 pixels in monochrome and 320 pixels by 200 pixels using four colors. Graphics statements and commands are implemented in Microsoft GW Basic, which is a refinement of Microsoft Basic for MS-DOS operating systems that includes special graphics and sound capabilities. Software
The true measure of IBM PC compatibility is how much software will run on the compatible. Overall, the PC/I runs most of-the-shelf IBM PC software, including business, educational, and entertainment programs. Indeed, ADDS sells more than 100 software packages and claims that titles are being added regularly.
The standard measure of IBM PC compatibility is running Lotus 1-2-3. Unfortunately, the PC/I failed to run version 1 A. We tried both the supplied operating system (Microsoft MS-DOS 2.11) and regular PC-DOS 2.0, but 1-2-3 failed to run. Thus, if you are thinking of purchasing a PC/I and want to run a specific IBM PC program, try before you buy. The International Touch
ADDS touts its PC/I as a truly international computer. The company offers five foreign language keyboards: Frech, German, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish. Likewise, the company offers foreign language versions of the DOS+ (MS-DOS) operating system. ADDS plans to release a full line of foreign language translations of software. Documentation
ADDS includes an Operations Manual--a 60-page booklet--that provides an overview to the system. It is illustrated and contains general instructions on setting up the system, navigating around the operating system, and coping with errors. Some technical information is also included. Pricing
ADDS offers two configurations of its computer, the PC/I and the PC/II.
The PC/I includes 256K RAM, two floppy disk drives, built-in parallel and serial ports, and a video display and color graphics adapter for $2445. The 12" monochrome monitor sells for $205.
The PC/II is the exact same machine as the PC/I except it replaces one floppy drive with a 10Mb Winchester. It costs $3995. Again, the monochrome monitor costs an extra $205. Does it ADD up?
ADDS is targeting the business professional who already owns an ADDS terminal as its primary customer. The company figures the user is looking for a stand-alone computer that virtually guarantees the ability to replace the terminal and connect to a mainframe. Of course, we are sure ADDS will not turn away a first-time, small business user looking for a PC compatible.
ADDS admits the hardware differences between the PC/I and IBM PC are minimal. They point out that their computer includes a tilt/swivel pedestal, built-in graphics board with monochrome, composite color, and RGB color display options, and built-in parallel and serial ports. And you get all this hardware at a competitive price.
All this is true, but--and this is a very big but--the PC/I may not be the compatible for you if you expect your computer to run off-the-shelf IBM PC software. In our tests, Lotus 1-2-3 version 1A did not run, although several other programs did. Our advice with the PC/I, as with other compatibles, is to try a particular package first to be assured of complete compatibility.
All in all, we did like the ADDS PC/I although we question the degree to which it is truly compatible with the IBM PC. Still, business and professionals, especially those already using ADDS terminals, would do well to consider the ADDS PC/I.
Products: ADDS PC-I (computer)