First post, by keenmaster486
It all started a few years ago when I wanted to play DOS games on the go.
I got a Toshiba T1950CT to start off. But what I didn't realize is that it didn't have a built-in sound card. Shoot! So that was out of the picture even though it was a great laptop to tinker with otherwise.
Then I found a Toshiba Satellite T460cdt. This was much better. Fully DOS compatible, good graphics, sound, Pentium MMX, etc. But I found that the build quality was severely lacking.
So I kept looking. On eBay I found a Thinkpad 385XD. This looked perfect, plus it had both the CD and floppy drive internal to the same unit. Great! But then I discovered the Neomagic craphics chip had terrible DOS compatibility.
The search went on and on.
Eventually my requirements expanded. I wanted not only to play DOS games, but do Windows 9x productivity things as well. And have internet connectivity to connect to all the things. Etc, etc.
It's been a bear of a task finding the perfect retro laptop.
Here are the laptops I've gone through so far, in roughly chronological order:
- Toshiba T1950CT -- REJECTED (no built in sound card)
- Toshiba Satellite T460CDT -- very good candidate but REJECTED (bad build quality, not great keyboard)
- IBM Thinkpad 385XD -- tempting but REJECTED (rubbery palmrest, Neomagic video has bad DOS compatibility)
- IBM Thinkpad A20m -- REJECTED (too large and heavy, ATI graphics have lackluster DOS compatibility, Crystal audio sounds terrible with FM synth, keyboard is mushy and not Thinkpad-like at all)
- IBM Thinkpad 560X -- REJECTED (Neomagic video, no internal floppy or CD, sound card is on the fritz)
- IBM Thinkpad 365CD -- REJECTED (Not enough RAM or CPU power to do late DOS stuff and Windows 9x, screen casing is broken in multiple places due to bad hinge engineering, CD drive is bad, no internal floppy)
- IBM Thinkpad 600E -- REJECTED (Neomagic video, rather large and heavy)
- IBM Thinkpad 760XL -- REJECTED (Password locked and destroyed EEPROM chip while attempting to remove, but also: CRAP keyboard. Unlike any other Thinkpad.)
So now I am back to square one again.
I think, however, that I have figured one thing out: there is no perfect retro laptop that will fulfill ALL my needs all at once.
So I have split it into two. Here they are:
The DOS/Win31/Win95 laptop
This will be capable of the following:
- Perfect or near-perfect DOS video/sound compatibility
- Not too large or too thick, of course this is all by 90's standards. The 365CD for example was fine. The 385XD was too large for me due to being 3-spindle.
- Minimum of original Pentium speeds, for everything up to mid-late DOS era, think Duke3D or DOOM as a maximum.
- Great keyboard touch
- Can run DOS but also Windows 95 for writing, internet browsing, etc.
- Ability to connect to Internet, and run browsers like Netscape
The Late DOS / Windows 98 / 2000 / Linux experimentation laptop
- DOS compatibility sufficient for late DOS era games that require lots of speed
- Can run Windows 98 / 2000 for millennium-era Windows productivity and internet things
- Can also run some type of Linux for experimentation
- Great keyboard touch
- Connects to Internet and can run later browsers like RetroZilla well
- Could also do things like play MPEG videos and DVDs
Accordingly I have purchased on eBay a Thinkpad 760XL, to assist me in fulfilling the first category.
I am thinking that the two laptops for these categories will be, respectively, the Thinkpad 760XL, and the Thinkpad 600E.
The 600E I have already upgraded with a faster CPU (PIII-500), max RAM (544 MB), PCMCIA WiFi card, and brand new battery cells. It will serve well as the ~2000 era laptop.
The 760XL has the following specs:
- CPU: Pentium MMX 166
- Video: Trident Cyber9385 (good DOS compatibility according to The Chart -- it's based on Trident Providia)
- Sound: ES1688 (good DOS compatibility)
- Max of 104 MB RAM (sufficient for up to Windows 95)
- TFT LCD 800x600 screen
- Ultrabay with floppy drive. Could put a CD drive in there too if I got one.
Hopefully I can finally converge on a good setup this way. It will be a lot of configuration and setting things up to get everything to work properly, but I expect it to be rewarding.
I'll document any further adventures in this thread.
World's foremost 486 enjoyer.