Excellence, named after being an expert level computer, clobbered me the first few years I owned it except on level 1.
In 1996 I played it a lot and could manage to now beat it on its level 6, 15 seconds per move, with some regularity.
Outgrowning it, I bought in 1997, the Novag emerald classic, reputed to be rated 2290 for about 150 bucks. I still own it and recently I saw the Kingmaster, rated 1750, but stronger at checkers, for only 50 bucks with shipping and couldn't resist.
If you're not a strong enough player that you need a full scale pc chess program to challenge you, these auto sensory boards are extremely fun to play on. With a real board and real pieces its much easier to stay focused, and you feel like the computer has a personlity as it creates the illusion of actually moving its pieces, though you actually move them.
Featured below is a picture of the Novag Emerald classic and Kingmaster III chess and checkers auto sensory computer by Excaliber. I played my first game of checkers tonight, 10-20-2008, against kingmaster and we will see if its claim of 500 hours of battery life holds up. The novag will work with batteries, and also, which is convienent, with AC power cord, featured in the picture behind the Emerald Classic, which is to the right.