Factotum, the Newbury, Berkshire-based products division of Gandlake Computer Services Ltd, has brought out a new version of its Intel 80386SL-based notebook, the 386-25SL. The notebook, intended as a portable personal computer capable of doing a full day’s work, and supposed to resemble a desktop machine as far as possible, replaces Factotum’s original 386SL (CI […]
Factotum, the Newbury, Berkshire-based products division of Gandlake Computer Services Ltd, has brought out a new version of its Intel 80386SL-based notebook, the 386-25SL. The notebook, intended as a portable personal computer capable of doing a full day’s work, and supposed to resemble a desktop machine as far as possible, replaces Factotum’s original 386SL (CI No 1,801), which never actually made it to market. Factotum apparently felt it could do better and subsequently re-designed the casing from scratch to give the notebook a different look. In addition, the company claims to have extended battery life from eight hours to between 10 and 12 hours – adequate for the average working day. A 6V lead-acid battery, Factotum’s own specially-designed power management software, and Intel Corp’s 80386SL microprocessor are supposedly responsible for this achievement. Lead-acid batteries are said not to suffer from the cadmium memory effect of nickel cadmium batteries or nickel metal hydride batteries. This means that unless nickel batteries are discharged fully, they cannot be recharged fully. They only remember the amount of charge received and ignore any residual charge already held. Lead-acid batteries, however, apparently function best when discharged a little and then recharged fully. Factotum believes that this suits typical user patterns – sometimes the battery is in use and at other times the notebook is plugged in. The battery is said to last for three years and can be charged in situ. Power management software monitors system components and switches them off when idle. Power consumption is said to be further reduced by automatic variation of power input in relation to the brightness of the screen. Finally, Intel’s 80386SL can switch off into coma mode when not in use and requires only enough charge to maintain data integrity. Its clock speed or frequency is apparently variable and only runs as fast as it needs to, thus again reducing power consumption. Main memory consists of 4Mb and there is a 80Mb 2.5 hard disk. Other modifications include an internal floppy drive and built-in 80387 Cyrix Corp co-processor, an external port for the SCSI disk interface, version two of the PCMCIA card interface rather than version one, and an external AT bus convertor. Although designed and developed by Factotum, the notebook is manufactured by Taipei, Taiwan-based Santec Corp. The company, which makes calculators for Texas Instruments Inc, has worldwide marketing rights except for the UK and will sell the notebook under its own name. However, it is obliged to pay royalties. Factotum is to buy the finished product at cost, and is entitled to the first three months’ worth off the production line. The notebook begins shipping at the end of the month at a recommended UKP2,100, and an estimated street price of UKP1,700.