The biggest hangup in running NT on a portable is installing it: You can install from either floppy disks or a CD, but each has its problems. Installing from CD has significant advantages. The obvious advantage is that one CD is far easier to install than 24 floppies. However, you're stuck if your portable doesn't have an internal CD-ROM drive, a SCSI-2 connector, or a docking station. So, some of you, whether you have the time or not, will have to install from floppies.

If you absolutely don't have the time to spare and want to try this approach, you can get a CD-ROM drive by using a PC Card SCSI adapter: Adaptec ported its SlimSCSI (APA1460) PC Card package to NT. The next NT shell release (4.0) will include the drivers for this solution, but for now, you'll have to download the software. It's available from Adaptec's bulletin board at 408-945-7727. The filename to download is 1460wnt.exe. (For more on PC Card modems, see page 74.)

But beware; there is a catch. This software will let you only upgrade or repair your existing installation of NT. Also, you'll have no way to use your CD-ROM to do a first-time install of NT, because PC Card devices are not supported at boot time. In other words, to install NT, you must already have NT running--not exactly an ideal solution for first-time users.

There is a workaround if you don't have the 3.50" floppy version of NT, but be prepared for some hassles: You can install NT from CD by formatting your drive's File Allocation Table (FAT). Then you load basic DOS and boot from there. Install the SlimSCSI and your CD driver software and card/socket services. Execute the winnt.exe/b (the 16-bit version) command to load and install NT directly from the CD.

If all you need is access to SCSI peripherals, you can add the card's driver from the NT Control Panel as you do for any other device. The package also includes Windows and DOS software (for the workaround).

The SlimSCSI card attaches to a proprietary cable with a standard 50-pin Centronix SCSI connector at the other end, which will be fine for most peripheral devices. Adapters are available for micro-SCSI. You can then connect up to seven devices, such as CD-ROM drives, tape drives, and hard disks. This card features a 16-bit-wide architecture with a 2MB-per-second (MBps) transfer rate, so performance is adequate, if not exciting. The card can run as either SCSI-1 or SCSI-2, and works in Type-I, II, III, or Toshiba's proprietary Type-IV PC Card slots.

This card is worthwhile despite the problems with operating-system installation. For a unique NT product, Adaptec gets a thumbs-up for porting this add-on.

Adaptec SlimSCSI
System Requirements: PC Card Type-II slot
Adaptec * 800-959-7274
Price: $209