Retro laptop challenge

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Retro laptop challenge

Postby xjas » 2018-3-08 @ 08:25

Thought I'd put this challenge out to you guys, just for fun. If you're going on a trip somewhere, grab a retro laptop instead of your daily-driver and post back here on your experience.

I'll start - just got back from a few days of amazing skiing up in the mountains. I took my Thinkpad i1460 that I just finished setting up. Celeron 433, 384MB RAM, Win 98SE, 800x600 screen. Surprisingly it even still runs for 20 minutes on the battery. What I did with it:

Games - didn't spend much time gaming, but I did get a couple maps into Jazz Jackrabbit 2. My friend's daughter tried Skyroads but it was too hard for her.

Work - pounded out some words on that classic Thinkpad keyboard. I was just writing text so I didn't need my whole dev environment (Octave/Matlab+Python); QEdit for DOS did the job fine in this case. I was able to open most of the scientific papers I needed for reference with the creaky old Acrobat Reader (6.0??) that was already installed.

Music - played some CDs using the front panel CD player, and some tracker+mp3 tunes with DMP & XMPlay. The built-in speakers are better than my 2012 Macbook Pro, but that's not a high bar to pass.

Photo editing - got a few photos off my phone & resized/edited them to email using Photoshop 7. Yes, you can connect an Android phone to Win98SE if you have USB mass storage drivers installed. It's really flakey, but it does work. Pulling 3-4 MB images over USB1.1 sucks though.

Navigation - I saved directions to my rental condo in a text file on the desktop. Reading them in the car did involve plugging it into a cigarette-lighter power inverter, but I've had worse first-world problems than that. :P

Surfing/email - I will admit, I didn't do this on the Thinkpad. It should theoretically be able to run Opera 12 for at least a sort-of-modern browsing experience, but I doubt it would be much fun and I haven't tried to set up a wifi card on it. In this case I used the solution I already had that works - my phone.

So yeah, I basically did everything I needed to on a 19-year-old laptop; I'd call that a success! Let's hear from you. :)
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby leileilol » 2018-3-08 @ 10:10

Thinkpads are really rigid and hard, they're not very ergonomically fun for gaming.
Voodoo2s aren't 100mhz stock
Geforce256 isn't released as a beta on New Years '99 under the Quadro brand
DOS gaming isn't a bilinear 320x200 16:10
DOS PCs aren't better than the Macintosh
DOSBox is not for running Windows 9x
SGL != Glide
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby Deksor » 2018-3-08 @ 10:35

Personnally I find my ThinkPad 380XD much more fun than anything else from that era I had before it despite the sound chip being "meh" with buggy drivers
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby greasemonkey90s » 2018-3-09 @ 04:00

I would like to bring the only 2 i have but need charger. Twindhead and ams tech
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby dionb » 2018-3-09 @ 08:20

Thinkpad fetish ahoy ;)

I did most of my studies (around Y2K) with a 755 (486DX4-100), running either DOS or NetBSD. Right now I'm typing this on an X220. Not exactly retro hardware with a Core i5, but the last Thinkpad with a 'real' keybaord. I've upgraded it to the hilt, with an IPS screen (instead of the awful original TN one), a second WiFi NIC (useful for site surveys), an SSD of course and the largest battery option available. When it was new it would last almost 12h on a charge. Some 4y later I still get around 6h out of it. With a USB numeric keypad it's a great DOSBox platform, perfect for whiling away hours with Colonization or Master of Orion. As the casing is getting a bit worn down (build quality is not the same as the old IBM days unfortunately) I'm considering getting a second one for parts as I still haven't seen any newer laptop that even comes close...
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby blurks » 2018-3-09 @ 09:47

dionb wrote:Thinkpad fetish ahoy ;)

Right now I'm typing this on an X220. Not exactly retro hardware with a Core i5, but the last Thinkpad with a 'real' keybaord. I've upgraded it to the hilt, with an IPS screen (instead of the awful original TN one), a second WiFi NIC (useful for site surveys), an SSD of course and the largest battery option available. When it was new it would last almost 12h on a charge. Some 4y later I still get around 6h out of it. With a USB numeric keypad it's a great DOSBox platform, perfect for whiling away hours with Colonization or Master of Orion. As the casing is getting a bit worn down (build quality is not the same as the old IBM days unfortunately) I'm considering getting a second one for parts as I still haven't seen any newer laptop that even comes close...

I also use an X220 as my main portable device. With the exception of an IPS screen mine has similar specs. SSD, 8 GB RAM, Core i5, largest battery available. Great little machine.
My love for Thinkpads began in 2004 with a 600X, followed by an R50e, two T60's, an X100e and X120e. I was thinking about an X250/X260 as the new design has grown on me but the chiclet keyboard still makes me want to puke...
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby Baoran » 2018-3-09 @ 10:40

I have a thinkpad T21. I could see myself taking it with me when I would feel like playing some old retro games instead of my big new gaming laptop.
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby Half-Saint » 2018-3-09 @ 20:39

I can't say I understand the snobbery about laptop keyboards because they're all more or less crap to me. I'm writing this on a ThinkPad X230i and the keyboard actually feels a bit better than T420 one, plus I love the fact that the keyboard is backlit.

As for my retro laptop, it's a Toshiba Satellite 310CDT. It has a lovely TFT display that scales well to 640x480/320x240, a real Yamaha OPL3 chip and the battery still holds a very decent charge of about 2 hours. What's there not to like?!
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby britain4 » 2018-3-09 @ 22:37

I had an X220, then an X230 and now a T450. In my opinion the T450 has the best keyboard out of the three. Found the X220 a little bouncy, the X230 mushy and the T450 just right.

I’ve got a bit of a project Toshiba Libretto 110ct going on right now for my gaming laptop... overclocked to 300mhz, 96mb RAM, fast NOS 60GB HDD and a rebuilt lithium battery pack double the capacity of the original. Dual boot 98lite and XP (or maybe 2000). Should be pretty good.
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby Half-Saint » 2018-3-13 @ 22:37

britain4 wrote:I had an X220, then an X230 and now a T450. In my opinion the T450 has the best keyboard out of the three. Found the X220 a little bouncy, the X230 mushy and the T450 just right.


My X230i keyboard doesn't feel mushy at all but it's just another rubber dome. I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to keyboards so I tend to look down on laptop keyboards in general. I prefer to use a proper mechanical keyboard whenever possible.
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby keenmaster486 » 2018-3-13 @ 22:48

Half-Saint wrote:My X230i keyboard doesn't feel mushy at all but it's just another rubber dome. I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to keyboards so I tend to look down on laptop keyboards in general. I prefer to use a proper mechanical keyboard whenever possible.

*Macbook Pro*
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby xjas » 2018-3-14 @ 03:54

xjas wrote:Yes, you can connect an Android phone to Win98SE if you have USB mass storage drivers installed. It's really flakey, but it does work. Pulling 3-4 MB images over USB1.1 sucks though.

So as it turns out, this is a terrible idea and you probably shouldn't do it. (Or at least make sure you have a backup of everything on the phone first.)
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby britain4 » 2018-3-14 @ 07:38

Half-Saint wrote:
britain4 wrote:I had an X220, then an X230 and now a T450. In my opinion the T450 has the best keyboard out of the three. Found the X220 a little bouncy, the X230 mushy and the T450 just right.


My X230i keyboard doesn't feel mushy at all but it's just another rubber dome. I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to keyboards so I tend to look down on laptop keyboards in general. I prefer to use a proper mechanical keyboard whenever possible.


Maybe I’ve just got a “bad” one... I thought it was an improvement next to the X220 but now compared to the T450 it is quite lacking. I do much prefer a proper mechanical keyboard but I don’t carry one round in my laptop bag when I’m out and about :D

I’ve typed on a 2015 MacBook Pro and a “new” MacBook Pro with the touch bar and find them both to be dreadful.


xjas wrote:So as it turns out, this is a terrible idea and you probably shouldn't do it. (Or at least make sure you have a backup of everything on the phone first.)


Ouch! I’ll be sticking to my flash drive for storage, that sucks!
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Re: Retro laptop challenge

Postby bjwil1991 » 2018-3-14 @ 20:24

I ran Windows 98SE on my IBM ThinkPad R40 with 256MB RAM, which was OK, but not good at gaming since the GPU's memory was half of what a desktop's GPU would have in the early 2000's. Mine has the Radeon 7500 integrated with 16MB vRAM (DDR), which is good. Running Windows XP Pro on it right now, but it's slow at times, but it has 1GB DDR RAM installed, and "dual-band" ABG installed (which is nice).

On another note, I have an HP Pavilion N3350 that cannot do gaming, and it doesn't have a hard drive since it's in my Socket 7 desktop right now running Windows 98SE (the 6GB Maxtor HDD is losing its bearings).
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