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best buys in chess computers?
It's a beautiful summer here in the Pacific Northwest. (We actually
could use some rain as it is quite dry and there's always a chance of
Summertime is when I give my handheld computers a real workout. Often
people ask me to summarize my findings as, despite my thorough reviews,
they cannot decide "which Excalibur handheld is the best buy for me?".
Usually I don't have a concrete answer as each unit has its own strengths
and weaknesses. For example:
Touch Chess would likely be the only handheld for my purposes were it not
for the considerably dimmer screen than what you'll find with Talking LCD
Chess or Chess Station. Touch Chess is extremely easy to use in brightly
lit areas but can be extremely difficult to use in less than ideal light.
(While still a great buy it is also the most expensive Excalibur handheld
at around $40 to $45 typical price.) My review of Touch Chess is at:
The handheld portion of Chess Station (also marketed as "New York Times
Electronic Chess") doesn't use a touch pen stylus. But it's keyboard is
very easy to use and it has a much better display than Touch Chess. It
typically sells for a bit less than Touch Chess. My review of Chess
Station is at:
The strongest Excalibur handheld also has a voice and is currently the
cheapest at just under $20! It's the one I'm recommending to most people
at this time. It's bulkier and slightly more difficult to use than the
other units. However, the screen is fine and the price is very right!
My Talking LCD Chess review is at:
Note: All the Excalibur units have fantastic battery life. You literally
may be able to go years between battery changes as the battery life of
these units are measured in the few hundreds of hours per set of batteries.
For very strong club players and above (say USCF Elo 1700+), you'll
probably be more interested in a stronger unit, such as a Palm PDA with
ChessGenius or Chess Tiger. I have a review of Chess Tiger (on the Palm)
For myself and (I'd guess) for most players....especially any and all
beginners to this great game, I cannot see how you can go wrong with
Talking LCD Chess. For less than it cost to take a family of four to a
fast food dinner, you can have a powerful talking handheld chess
If you prefer tabletop action, buy a handheld unit anyway! Nothing to
stop you from mirroring the moves on a real board. I often do this
myself to enjoy the game more.
Good luck! Have a great summer!
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