VOGONS


Reply 320 of 526, by radiounix

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The Lattitude C-series are a decent choice for a more modern laptop, not because they're well-built, but because they're well known and were made in huge numbers. Also, yes, the parts can be swapped between myriad models. I had one, really easy to work on.

As for the 1400LT being extremely common, well, in the US almost every town, even a small town, had a Radio Shack. Some towns had more than one, there'd even be a Radio Shack in most shopping malls. For some years the Tandy 1000 line was probably America's best selling 16-bit home computer, and I understand they sold literally in the millions of their 8-bit Model 100 laptop word processor/BASIC machines. Maybe we should export some in exchange for funky Olivetti stuff that scarcely sold here?

Funny enough, here the t3000 and t5000 series machines are pretty common. You wouldn't think it by the price, even by American standards these were a machine for executives, field engineering .etc. I think they've been saved in disproportionate numbers, rather like the also very expensive Compaq Portable 386s -- no doubt, because of the cool plasma monitors that made them great conversation pieces. The 3200SX however, yes, those early active matrix screens were really expensive even compared to a plasma. They also didn't look very good. But most of the parts should still be fairly easy to get if you can reach out to a US collector.

Reply 321 of 526, by ragefury32

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radiounix wrote on 2020-12-01, 19:23:

Just going to leave this here: I had the same idea, but then I realized that no such thing exists. Some machines lack sound, most lack it in DOS. Others have worse than average LCDs. Only a few support a joystick. Some have an abominable pointer. Some take weird RAM that will be hard to track down. Some have tofu hinges. Some have exteriors that turn all tacky with age. Many have almost no parts availability, documentation, or available community knowledge. Some you'll never find drivers for. Some use hard to rebuild lithium batteries. Others have early SMD capacitors that have likely leaked enough to have damaged traces on the motherboard.

You just have to decide upon priorities. My first and foremost would be serviceability and popularity. It will break. If it works, it's just on borrowed time. And you don't need to be breaking unobtainium ribbon cables in the process, cursing as you pry here and there blindly trying to open up an undocumented machine that once you get it open reveals an acid-scarred board. I came to this conclusion after buying a hotshot first generation Panasonic Toughbook. And a Tidalwave clone palmtop... which had Thinkpad sticky case syndrome.

So I settled on a Tandy 1400LT. Because it's stupidly common, has a service manual, and is pretty much all early 80s through hole technology. Reliable like a cockroach, really. A 14 LB cockroach. I recognize a 7.16MHZ v20 and squashed CGA mono graphics aren't everyone's choice, so I think it's worth mentioning that Compaq Conturas seem unusually likely to show up working. You can at least get those with active matrix panels, and they seem to be aging far better than the more expensive Compaq LTEs and T4xxx series people actually wanted back in the day.

Well, to address all your points - yes. You hit the nail quite in the head - laptops will eventually die. Either accept this fate and make occasional trips to the local e-cycler to bid goodbye to old machines, or develop skills to keep them alive.

For me, I went with old ThinkPads the same reason why you went with your Tandy - the Thinkpad hardware maintenance manuals and reference information are still out there for most models, the Thinkpads.com community forums are super-helpful , and I suspect that there are still (dwindling) shelves in old tech warehouses with new-old-stock parts that can be tapped. I also think that it's helpful to keep an open mind on the "big picture" - sometimes having a good working machine that is popular with plentiful parts, that you enjoy typing on, gets most of the FM music right, show glitches in one or 2 rare/niche games for a given time period, is far more important than a machine that might tick all of the boxes, but is rarer than a hen's teeth.

I also believe in acquiring skills and knowhow to keep those older models viable - experimenting with epoxidized soybean oil as a plasticizer to keep ABS plastics from turning brittle with age, using CNC mills and 3D printing to make replacement parts, krazy-glue-and-baking-soda for fixing cracks on brittle plastics, buying parts from secondhand markets in Asia, having the confidence to rebuild battery packs, and knowing how to replace failing SMD components will increasingly be the order of the day.

Reply 322 of 526, by ragefury32

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radiounix wrote on 2020-12-02, 02:42:

The Lattitude C-series are a decent choice for a more modern laptop, not because they're well-built, but because they're well known and were made in huge numbers. Also, yes, the parts can be swapped between myriad models. I had one, really easy to work on.

As for the 1400LT being extremely common, well, in the US almost every town, even a small town, had a Radio Shack. Some towns had more than one, there'd even be a Radio Shack in most shopping malls. For some years the Tandy 1000 line was probably America's best selling 16-bit home computer, and I understand they sold literally in the millions of their 8-bit Model 100 laptop word processor/BASIC machines. Maybe we should export some in exchange for funky Olivetti stuff that scarcely sold here?

Funny enough, here the t3000 and t5000 series machines are pretty common. You wouldn't think it by the price, even by American standards these were a machine for executives, field engineering .etc. I think they've been saved in disproportionate numbers, rather like the also very expensive Compaq Portable 386s -- no doubt, because of the cool plasma monitors that made them great conversation pieces. The 3200SX however, yes, those early active matrix screens were really expensive even compared to a plasma. They also didn't look very good. But most of the parts should still be fairly easy to get if you can reach out to a US collector.

The Dell C-series laptops were the American corporate desk cockaroach of the late 90s/early 2000s - Everyone seemingly had one. I had a Latitude CPiD 266XT, a CPiA366XT, a CPxJ 650GT, and a C640/Inspiron 4150 (not at the same time, mind you) at some stretch in my past, and I still have a C600/Inspiron 4000 to this today. They were actually kinda bulky for their specs and not nearly as cool as the Thinkpads (Darth Vader's lunchboxes) but hey, my C600 still works with good plastics (not that I expect this to hold for much longer...I am handling the machine gingerly). My T21s have brittle ABS and needs surgery to replace a bad pacemaker (so to speak).

Ah yes, Rat Shack. You got questions, we got a bin of overpriced stuff and blank stares. The golden era of Radio Shack/Tandy Corp being a respectful tech firm has long faded away (well, it's mostly history, but until the 2017 mass liquidation it was never a tech shopping destination for me whatsoever). I'll forever look at my long departed TI99/4A (received it in trade for a 12 pack of LaBatt blue at my college dorm in the late-90s, I got the better of that deal) with a smile or the TRS 80 Model 4 formerly at my elementary school with the same respect owed to a elderly veteran - Those were good machines. I would however gladly trade a Tandy 100 for an Amstrad CPC64. As for the Toshiba T-series? I got in on it towards the end - my first laptop was a T2150CDT. Good quality, not too heavy, but definitely a bit old even when it was purchased in '98 - it was very easy to work on, much more so than my later Compaq Contura Aero 4/33. That one was purchased on a whim to check it out - didn't turn out to be quite as much of a debacle as my Sony Vaio SR27k, but I didn't enjoy taking it apart for servicing whatsoever.

Reply 323 of 526, by keenmaster486

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ragefury32 wrote on 2020-12-02, 05:24:

Ah yes, Rat Shack. You got questions, we got a bin of overpriced stuff and blank stares. The golden era of Radio Shack/Tandy Corp being a respectful tech firm has long faded away (well, it's mostly history, but until the 2017 mass liquidation it was never a tech shopping destination for me whatsoever). I'll forever look at my long departed TI99/4A (received it in trade for a 12 pack of LaBatt blue at my college dorm in the late-90s, I got the better of that deal) with a smile or the TRS 80 Model 4 formerly at my elementary school with the same respect owed to a elderly veteran - Those were good machines. I would however gladly trade a Tandy 100 for an Amstrad CPC64. As for the Toshiba T-series? I got in on it towards the end - my first laptop was a T2150CDT. Good quality, not too heavy, but definitely a bit old even when it was purchased in '98 - it was very easy to work on, much more so than my later Compaq Contura Aero 4/33. That one was purchased on a whim to check it out - didn't turn out to be quite as much of a debacle as my Sony Vaio SR27k, but I didn't enjoy taking it apart for servicing whatsoever.

RadioShack was my mecca when I was a kid, but I did always know they were overpriced, when they were selling 3 volt light bulbs for $5.00.

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

Reply 326 of 526, by radiounix

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I always thought Tandy computer prices were insane, but then I saw some old ads for mail order Tandy products from franchise Radio Shack dealers. About 30-40% less than MSRP across the board. I think Tandy did about the same in their stores with frequent megasales, not sure, wasn't around then.

More to the point, the floppy only Tandy 1000s might have been undermemoried potatos with just one floppy drive, but they cost little more than $400. Which is what a Model 102 cost, and by the end, what a Model 200 cost. And the Tandy 1400LTs were more like $1200 machines. In 1992 a 386SX floppy only Tandy 1000RSX with VGA graphics was around $550.

I know the M100 gets little respect, but it's actually a great machine. Why? The keyboard is wonderful, the screen shows just the right amount of text for typing, and it operates as an appliance. Sure, the height of gaming is blackjack and Hunt the Wumpus, but that's not the point.

Reply 327 of 526, by ragefury32

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chrismeyer6 wrote on 2020-12-03, 02:48:

Same here I loved browsing all the parts bins as a kid. I know they were over priced but I still loved going there with my dad and just looking around.

Eh, for me the magic ended when I took a summer job with them back in high school. Selling crappy Compaq Presario consumer models, AV equipment of dubious quality and indifferent/non-technical sales and manager ruined it for me - as the old saying goes, never meet your childhood hero.

I actually feel much more "at home" with Micro Center nowadays. For me at the very least it's all the stacks of components, hobbyist equipment and decent pricing that makes me a regular customer. Plus there is the fun of swapping war stories with their tech and other regulars.

Reply 331 of 526, by sangokushi

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MAZter wrote on 2020-12-04, 14:36:
At least 640x480 active TFT matrix and unique design […]
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sangokushi wrote on 2020-12-04, 10:45:

Does Digital Hi-Note have some unique features?

At least 640x480 active TFT matrix and unique design

TAv3Nl2.jpg

Screenshot-25.png

Interesting. I thought all 486 laptops are bulky, that's very slim.

Reply 332 of 526, by bjwil1991

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Not all 486 laptops are thick. My AMS laptop is a brick and has a crappy display, but wonderful sound card and a broken floppy drive (going to fix it some more since the heads keep slipping at an angle).

Discord: https://discord.gg/U5dJw7x
Systems from the Compaq Portable 1 to FX-6300
Twitch: https://twitch.tv/retropcuser

Reply 333 of 526, by Intel486dx33

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What about the 1994 IBM thinkpad 755cse with Selectadock and Sound Blaster Pro 2.0 ISA card ?

Specs:
CPU - Intel 486dx4-100
Ram - up to 128mb
Hard-drive - 730mb.
CDROM - 2x
Display - 10-inch
Graphics - NeoMagic
Onboard audio - Mwave
Audio - Sound Blaster Pro 2.0 ISA in Selectadock.

Attachments

Last edited by Intel486dx33 on 2020-12-06, 10:09. Edited 3 times in total.

Reply 334 of 526, by ragefury32

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sangokushi wrote on 2020-12-05, 00:05:
MAZter wrote on 2020-12-04, 14:36:
At least 640x480 active TFT matrix and unique design […]
Show full quote
sangokushi wrote on 2020-12-04, 10:45:

Does Digital Hi-Note have some unique features?

At least 640x480 active TFT matrix and unique design

TAv3Nl2.jpg

Screenshot-25.png

Interesting. I thought all 486 laptops are bulky, that's very slim.

Well, not all of them are bulky - the Libretto 20/30s are not bulky at all, and the HP Onnibook 300 is also quite mobile. Technically the M1sc core in a Cyrix MediaGX reports itself as a 486, but it’s closer to a bus starved P6 - and that can get you something like a Casio Fiva 101/102, which is like a hipster alternative to the Toshiba Librettos.

Reply 335 of 526, by radiounix

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Ultraportables are nothing new, they weren't new in the 486 era. You could get an 8086 Nec Ultralite or Zenith Minisport, and by the early 90s the Quaderno and Omnibook lines were out. Plus the handbook, though that WAS chunky.

Reply 336 of 526, by ragefury32

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radiounix wrote on 2020-12-06, 02:43:

Ultraportables are nothing new, they weren't new in the 486 era. You could get an 8086 Nec Ultralite or Zenith Minisport, and by the early 90s the Quaderno and Omnibook lines were out. Plus the handbook, though that WAS chunky.

Well, they are all products of the times. There are only so much you can do to fit an NEC V20/386SX/486SLC into an early/mid-90s chassis and embed it with a video controller, a good quality LCD screen, storage+base ports and have it fit a reasonable NiMH battery with non-shabby runtime.
Now add multimedia capabilities (VESA SVGA capable GPU with an audio chip setup) and ask for its components to last 35-40 years so it can be collectible. Then it becomes freaking unobtainium.

The Apple PowerBook Duo 270/280s from the same era were considered very slim at the time (1.4 inch in thickness). But it’s ridiculously expensive and depend on the duo docks, without which it is fairly useless...not that it isn’t fairly useless as is...I can already run vMac with a MacOS 8 disk image on an 8 inch Windows tablet and it’ll blow away the PowerBook Duo, and I won’t have to dedicate shelf space for the hardware.

Last edited by ragefury32 on 2020-12-07, 23:45. Edited 4 times in total.

Reply 337 of 526, by bjwil1991

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My perfect laptop isn't so perfect yet. There are two or three issues my AMS laptop has:

1) DSTN display (ordered a parts laptop that has a TFT display and similar in design that my AMS laptop uses)
2) Floppy drive is totally gone (1 of 2 heads work, alignment is too far off, and other items, plus, it's a Citizen W1D, which the pinout is different than the other drives, like Teac)
3) Trackball is a bit fidgety at times, so the potentiometers need to be cleaned out, but works 99% of the time

Hope the parts laptop display works, including the floppy drive. The best thing about the laptop:

1) ESS AudioDrive ES688 + YMF-262M
2) Can upgrade the CPU (3.3V mobile CPU only) to a higher speed and set the clock speed to 33MHz on the fly via the BIOS
3) HDD works like a charm, but the downside is DoubleSpace + Windows 10 doesn't mix very well.

Discord: https://discord.gg/U5dJw7x
Systems from the Compaq Portable 1 to FX-6300
Twitch: https://twitch.tv/retropcuser

Reply 338 of 526, by creepingnet

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Well, after going through the 3 NEC Versa I have, I think the P/75 model is the best for Retro-Gaming in pure DOS, and works rather well for Windows 9x as well. It has SoundBlaster compatible audio (ESS 688), the volume control for the internal speaker also handles SoundBlaster, the audio balance is pretty good, and it gets pretty loud. With FreeDOS and an 80GB HDD it's almost usable as a daily driver DOS system. You can also get them with 800x600 screens, Touch screens (3M MicroTouch), and anything else the older Versa Series offered (640x480) - and all screens are Active Matrix and quite bright. I also read there are LED upgrade kits for the screens and the screens are still availible decently enough, with some not being very expensive at all. We'll see if the crumbling plastic will still be a problem too because it seems the only weak spot on the P model has a stronger, thicker aluminum inner skeleton.. THe only part that cracks is the front. Also, battery life is better than I remember and ytou can still get batteries for it that are rebuilt/new.

My M/75 crumbled so much I'm deciding to try something weird - make a new case for it of my own design that fits all the original components and allows for some modification/expansion of the circuits and power options.

~The Creeping Network~
My Website - https://sites.google.com/site/thecreepingnetwork/home
My Youtube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/creepingnet

Reply 339 of 526, by vorob

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Guys, help me understand whether Toshiba Satellite 5205-S503 is good for retro games or not? Specs: https://support.dynabook.com/support/staticCo … omTOCLink=false

I do understand that I won't get sound in pure dos, but what about Windows 98 General MIDI emulation? I had an extremely good result on Yamaha YMF754, does Yamaha YMF753 do the same thing in Windows 98?