VOGONS


First post, by goodtofufriday

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I just wanted to document this rarer laptop from I believe 1995. I see almost nothing online about it. I will be doing a benchmark soon and will do an additional after upgrading the processor. The ram might be upgradable by desoldering its current package but I'm iffy on exploring that option.

Seems to have Sound Blaster Vibra S CT2504 And a Cirrus Logic chip for video. cmos chip is a MT5LC2568DJ-12. 430tx intel chipset supports 64mb cahced ram and 256mb of ram. The most likely highest compatable cpu is a p54cs 150mhz. Has the same core and i/o voltage as the 75mhz cpu.

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Last edited by goodtofufriday on 2016-10-04, 21:33. Edited 7 times in total.

A fixer of things. I also broke those things.

Reply 1 of 10, by goodtofufriday

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Last edited by goodtofufriday on 2016-10-04, 19:24. Edited 1 time in total.

A fixer of things. I also broke those things.

Reply 2 of 10, by goodtofufriday

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A fixer of things. I also broke those things.

Reply 3 of 10, by kanecvr

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SB Vibra + CL video is a great combo for retro gaming. The screen is disappointing tough... I use an Inspiron 3000 for retro gaming because it has a modern TFT screen, but the Neomagic video card acts up in some dos games...

Reply 5 of 10, by derSammler

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From the case, I can tell you for sure this was produced by MITAC and then sold under various brands. They used this case already for some of their 386sx-based notebooks, from which I owned two (one sold, one trashed).

Reply 6 of 10, by 3lectr1c

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Sorry about the bump - just curious if you still have this laptop today, and if it still works. These have a bit of a reputation for problems and I'm trying to find more accounts. You should also really pull that NiMH green hibernate battery if you haven't already. They leak catastrophically with age.
I'm also wondering if you'd be fine with me using your photos on my website - I document vintage laptops and don't have any photos to use of this model yet.
See: macdat.net/laptop_home.html

And on these being made by Mitac - are they? The FCC ID is usually a good way to tell who actually made a laptop, and these lead direct back to AST, not to Mitac. I think these were made in house.

I probably have too many old laptops.

Reply 7 of 10, by RetroSpector78

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I have 3 of these and all of them share common issues:

brittle plastics
power on / off issues
random shutdowns
PCB with lots of bodge wires (unclear if it was delivered to customer by AST this way, or if this was the result of a repair). Have different motherboards with different patches applied.

When it works its a nice little laptop, but it's a real pain due to its random and erratic behavior.

If you need any more info or pictures feel free to contact me. You can use whatever material I put out. (I have a video on it on my channel and will publish a new one tomorrow).

3lectr1c wrote on 2023-12-06, 14:44:
Sorry about the bump - just curious if you still have this laptop today, and if it still works. These have a bit of a reputation […]
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Sorry about the bump - just curious if you still have this laptop today, and if it still works. These have a bit of a reputation for problems and I'm trying to find more accounts. You should also really pull that NiMH green hibernate battery if you haven't already. They leak catastrophically with age.
I'm also wondering if you'd be fine with me using your photos on my website - I document vintage laptops and don't have any photos to use of this model yet.
See: macdat.net/laptop_home.html

And on these being made by Mitac - are they? The FCC ID is usually a good way to tell who actually made a laptop, and these lead direct back to AST, not to Mitac. I think these were made in house.

Reply 8 of 10, by rasz_pl

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RetroSpector78 wrote on 2024-02-28, 09:31:

If you need any more info or pictures feel free to contact me. You can use whatever material I put out. (I have a video on it on my channel and will publish a new one tomorrow).

I was about to link your video 😀
AST Ascentia 950N laptop repair attempt RetroSpector78 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaeU5J4QjOM
I have 810N in need of free time myself, 486 with trackball.

Open Source AT&T Globalyst/NCR/FIC 486-GAC-2 proprietary Cache Module reproduction

Reply 9 of 10, by 3lectr1c

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RetroSpector78 wrote on 2024-02-28, 09:31:
I have 3 of these and all of them share common issues: […]
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I have 3 of these and all of them share common issues:

brittle plastics
power on / off issues
random shutdowns
PCB with lots of bodge wires (unclear if it was delivered to customer by AST this way, or if this was the result of a repair). Have different motherboards with different patches applied.

When it works its a nice little laptop, but it's a real pain due to its random and erratic behavior.

If you need any more info or pictures feel free to contact me. You can use whatever material I put out. (I have a video on it on my channel and will publish a new one tomorrow).

Ah hello! I've been watching your channel for a couple years now and saw your first video, currently watching the second one. There's some great shots of the components there I could definitely make use of on my website!

I have pages published on the 950N here now: https://macdat.net/pc/ast/ascentia_950n_home.html
I found an archive of the drivers as well so I need to put those up still.

It's a real shame they're so problematic, one of these configured with the TFT 640x480 option would hit the mythical requirements for the "perfect DOS gaming laptop". Mainly, 640x480 TFT screen and DOS compatible sound (of which that Vibra definitely counts). The Lexmark keyboard is also a big plus - it should have the exact same switches that ThinkPad keyboards of the time used.
Edit: Wait, I'm mistaken. There was no TFT 640x480 option, all were 800x600. Still a great DOS system though.

I was in talks with a guy on VCF that wanted to sell one to me that worked, but they went inactive. Maybe they'll come back at some point, I hope they do.

I probably have too many old laptops.

Reply 10 of 10, by 3lectr1c

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I pushed an update my my site last night with new 950N info and photos from your videos.
Here's the gallery: https://macdat.net/pc/ast/950n/gallery.html

Also added the latest BIOS update and video drivers, along with new notes on the issues page from what you encountered.

I probably have too many old laptops.