Novag Carnelian II
I recently purchased a Novag Carnelian II Chess Computer, and after playing a few games, am pleased with the purchase. It is one of the lower priced Novags, and probably in the mid-range of prices of these in general. I found a deal on it, and decided to take a chance.
My goal was to be able to play with some real pieces against the computer since I have no human to play with. The laptop is fine, but I enjoy moving pieces around the board every now and again.
After a few starts to get used to moving the pieces around the board, I played a game, which of course the computer won. There are 128 levels of play from which you may choose, so I "dummied" it down as far as I could, and after a few more games to get used to how to move the pieces, etc., I finally won a game against the computer. Here is my mate:
Some folks may feel the board and pieces to be a bit small, but since I wanted it on the corner of my desk it works great for me. And the pieces are wood, not plastic, so they look and feel nicer than if they were made of plastic. The board is plastic, but well made, and looks good. In fact, if one didn't know, one might think it is wooden board on first glance.
Moving the pieces is easier than I expected. You just lightly press the piece to move it, and a quiet "beep" will sound signaling that the computer recognizes your move, and then you do the same on your destination square. The computer tells you where to move its pieces by algebraic notation as well as two red LED lights on the edge of the board. Again, pretty easy to use after a few games.
You can "take back" moves, but you must allow the computer to move first and then do so. A little cumbersome, but okay. You can turn it off at anytime, and come back later, as the computer will pick up where you left off. Other computers offer more options, and I might move up to one of those someday. I considered the Obsidian and the Citrine, but read that they can be kind of tough to play, and I wanted something I could beat on occasion. Not to mention what I paid for the Carnelian was only a bit more than half the cost of the Obsidian, and one third the cost of the Citrine. The Carnelian II fills my bill at this time, and again, for the price, seems to be a good buy for how I am going to be using it.
Oh, not sure how to play black yet, if you can, but I have been concentrating on white anyway, at least for now.
I would recommend it to anyone who wants to move some pieces around now and again for a leisurely game or change of pace.