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Pogo Linux Pogo Altura Workstation

WHAT'S HOT: Though we ordered and tested this system with just Windows XP Professional installed, you can specify a dual-boot Linux/Windows configuration--or Linux only--if you like. Powered by an 1.53-GHz Athlon XP 1800+ processor and 512MB of 266-MHz DDR memory, this system packed enough punch to earn a strong 118 on PC WorldBench 4, almost equaling the 121 posted by the similarly configured (but far more expensive) Falcon Northwest Mach V.

Undoubtedly, some of this system's hot performance is due to its Ultra DMA/100 RAID setup, featuring twin 60GB drives (120GB total). The RAID setup stripes the data across two drives, allowing more efficient use of the Ultra DMA/100 interface to pump more data through the pipe.

The system's Leadtek Winfast Titanium 200 graphics board with 64MB of RAM boosts performance, too.

The Pogo Altura includes a wireless keyboard and mouse from Logitech, both of which have a range of 6 feet, so you won't be tethered to your desk. The sturdy and sleek-looking Cordless Freedom Optical keyboard has an array of hot-keys conveniently located between various multimedia and Internet functions.

WHAT'S NOT: The Pogo Altura comes with an overall system manual plus manuals for the individual components. The generic system manual contains more information about Linux than about Windows, making it less than ideal (but passable) for use with the Windows-only system we tested.

The system's white chassis sports a translucent gray, flip-open drive cover that may prove more cumbersome than helpful. Its deep-set floppy drive requires users to poke a finger well into the chassis to insert a disk.

Technical support hours run just 10 hours a day, weekdays only.

WHAT ELSE: The midsize tower case is sturdily constructed and easy to open--simply loosen two small thumbscrews and pop out the side panel. Lots of drives and cards sit inside, but the system's interior is neat, with cables bundled and pulled out of the way.

Two open PCI slots and four open drive bays offer plenty of opportunity for expansion, though you can't install cards or drives without using tools.

The ADi Microscan CM900 19-inch monitor that shipped with our test system delivered excellent color quality. Text viewed as 12-point Arial type looked slightly fuzzy--but not objectionably so.

The included Sony CRX1611/82U CD-RW drive--a 16X/12X/40X model--ranked seventh on our January Top 10 CD-RW Drives chart.

UPSHOT: This speedy, well-rounded, reasonably priced system is a good choice for people who want to use Linux or who would like to try the OS out without having to install it on their own. By Joel Strauch

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