Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

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Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby TheAbandonwareGuy » 2016-7-07 @ 08:38

Ok, so, i was at my local thrift store earlier and found an HP Jornada Handheld PC. Paid 10 bucks for it. As luck would have it it doesnt work (Corrosion, water damage side effect im assuming) but i got me thinking: What happened to Handheld PC's as a PDA formfactor. Im sure everybody here is old as fuck enough to remember PalmPilots and iPaqs which all and all weren't too bad if you look past the somewhat questionable form factor. We all know the PDA ended up crossbreeding with the phone to create the smartphone which more or less has made PDA's obsolete (I keep an old Dell X50 around for MP3's though...) but as far as i can tell the Handheld PDA as a form factor never left the 1990s. Incase you're not famaliar with the Handheld PDA. It was basically a HalfVGA laptop running windows CE except much cheaper and as expected much more limited in what it could do. From what i can tell they were almost forgotten, they don't even seem to be selling very high on eBay which is odd when you consider other much less intresting items sell higher.

What ever happened to HPDAs? Anybody else here got one/remember having one?
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby SquallStrife » 2016-7-07 @ 09:18

It's as you say, they were more or less useless.

Compare with what you can get brand new: For $300 or so you get a 7" device with a 1080p screen and a quad-core x86 processor running "normal" Windows, some of them even come bundled with a form-fitting bluetooth keyboard.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby Errius » 2016-7-07 @ 09:36

I loved my Palm TX but having to carry it around in addition to a phone just became too annoying. I switched to a Palm Centro, which I'm still using. I still miss the big screen of the TX though.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby chinny22 » 2016-7-07 @ 12:46

We had a couple of iPaqs for work, idea to sync outlook calendar which we used for timesheets, but by early 2000's always having your laptop with either Cache mode or OWA worked better in practice.

Can imagine due to their size they got chucked around and broken more then laptops and lack of flexibility got rid of much quicker once everyone jumped on the blackberry band wagon.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby sliderider » 2016-7-07 @ 12:52

Tablets, netbooks, and smartphones killed them.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby Snayperskaya » 2016-7-07 @ 22:06

sliderider wrote:Tablets, netbooks, and smartphones killed them.

This. With emphasis on the netbooks and smartphones. Tablets didn't get much attention until Apple launched the iPad, and I really don't know how big its market is even nowadays.

Netbooks closed a gap while creating a new market. Wonder why almost all OEMs ditched them in favour of the pricey ultrabooks. I'd rather have a 15+ hour autonomy 12' netbook with an Atom-class CPU than a crippled i5 for $1k.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby sliderider » 2016-7-07 @ 22:10

Snayperskaya wrote:
sliderider wrote:Tablets, netbooks, and smartphones killed them.

This. With emphasis on the netbooks and smartphones. Tablets didn't get much attention until Apple launched the iPad, and I really don't know how big its market is even nowadays.

Netbooks closed a gap while creating a new market. Wonder why almost all OEMs ditched them in favour of the pricey ultrabooks. I'd rather have a 15+ hour autonomy 12' netbook with an Atom-class CPU than a crippled i5 for $1k.


Apple did make the Newton before the iPad, but it was one of the things that Steve Jobs killed off when he returned to Apple. There was even a detachable keyboard available for the handheld version and a laptop form factor model.

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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby GL1zdA » 2016-7-07 @ 22:22

The problem with Handheld PC was technology, which was not there yet. You had to use a special OS tailored for these devices which also meant you had to rely on 3rd party software vendors to supply a version of their software specific for this OS. You had to sync them with your PC and you often could only use a subset of the features available on the PC. Look at Mobile Office - there was no Dropbox or OneDrive, you had to use ActiveSync to get your documents on the device and the files were cut down to something that could be used by the mobile apps. All this meant the target market was small, mostly managers who were required to work on the go. This in turn meant Handheld PC never shipped in big volume, what caused their high prices. In the end PDAs prevailed, because of their more compact sized and eventually morphed into smartphones.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby nforce4max » 2016-7-08 @ 01:24

Smart phones killed them off more than anything else, I got a HP Jornada that I got from a yard sale a local business owner used to do every other month from cleaning out storage units. Pretty need except for the missing stylus but the battery works and it really does hold a long lasting charge.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby TheAbandonwareGuy » 2016-7-08 @ 02:53

GL1zdA wrote:The problem with Handheld PC was technology, which was not there yet. You had to use a special OS tailored for these devices which also meant you had to rely on 3rd party software vendors to supply a version of their software specific for this OS. You had to sync them with your PC and you often could only use a subset of the features available on the PC. Look at Mobile Office - there was no Dropbox or OneDrive, you had to use ActiveSync to get your documents on the device and the files were cut down to something that could be used by the mobile apps. All this meant the target market was small, mostly managers who were required to work on the go. This in turn meant Handheld PC never shipped in big volume, what caused their high prices. In the end PDAs prevailed, because of their more compact sized and eventually morphed into smartphones.


Didn't most of them run WindowsCE or Windows Handheld?
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby swaaye » 2016-7-08 @ 03:37

I have a Sharp Zaurus SL-5500 around. There were all sorts of Linux software ports for it. I had Prboom with wavetable MIDI going at one point.... I remember someone hosted a web site on one too. The sky was the limit, if awkwardly so.

Yeah obviously today almost everyone has a device that is more handheld PC than these ever were though.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby sliderider » 2016-7-08 @ 12:33

TheAbandonwareGuy wrote:
GL1zdA wrote:The problem with Handheld PC was technology, which was not there yet. You had to use a special OS tailored for these devices which also meant you had to rely on 3rd party software vendors to supply a version of their software specific for this OS. You had to sync them with your PC and you often could only use a subset of the features available on the PC. Look at Mobile Office - there was no Dropbox or OneDrive, you had to use ActiveSync to get your documents on the device and the files were cut down to something that could be used by the mobile apps. All this meant the target market was small, mostly managers who were required to work on the go. This in turn meant Handheld PC never shipped in big volume, what caused their high prices. In the end PDAs prevailed, because of their more compact sized and eventually morphed into smartphones.


Didn't most of them run WindowsCE or Windows Handheld?


Palm had Palm OS and Blackberry had their own OS for their devices, I believe, before Blackberries morphed into full blown smartphones. Some early Blackberry models were more like a hybrid PDA/phone than they were true smartphones. Apple's Newton also used the Newton OS. I remember wanting a Compaq iPaq for the longest time, but never got around to buying one. LoL.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby Zup » 2016-7-08 @ 13:17

I've got a HP 200LX (almost XT compatible), and I've also had a Palm Tungsten and a iPaq.

There should be two questions, instead of one...

What happened to PC handhelds? I guess they're coming back. It was obvious why they dissapeared... when they first came, there were almost no need for portable computing and OSs like MS-DOS and Windows were wasting energy. Later devices. Also synchronization was difficult. Now, using the cloud and an OS almost 100% compatible with desktops, they may be coming back. Those netbooks and tablets with W10 may be the last interation on that concept. If only Intel don't give up with their x86 phone CPUs...

What happened with those fancy PDAs? I still miss some things of my Palm Tungsten and my iPaq. The Palm Tungsten had a battery that lasted longer than any other PDA I've had, and the writing recognition system was very good. Both iPaq and Palm had resistive screens that had way more precision than capacitive screens. What happened to them. Well, that's easy. Palm OS was a very good OS for PDAs, but a terrible OS for a telephone. Almost the same happened with the iPaq (Windows CE): it was neither a good telephone nor a good PDA. Modern phones with better OSs that performed better on that tasks killed them.

The only survivor (struggling to not dissappear) is Blackberry. They survived because offered a good foundations for enterprise applications, but it seems that now it may be not enough.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby rein_ein » 2016-7-10 @ 19:49

Bit offtop but i found my good 'ol Hp ipaq
Just as others says:

the handheld(right) and what happened to em(left)

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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby PeterLI » 2016-7-10 @ 19:55

They were always a novelty and not a mainstream device.

iPhone and Android became huge because they are consumer devices.

Blackberry failed because it did not transition from corporate to consumer use.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby Errius » 2016-7-10 @ 23:32

I really liked Palm OS, and now collect the devices. I even picked up a couple of the Symbol Tech barcode readers just for fun.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby Jo22 » 2016-7-13 @ 00:34

Aww, the palm top era! I fondly remember these times! They started in the 90s, but became popular in early 2000!

Had a Palm m100 and also got a Handspring Visor later on.
I used to play several dozens of games on them. There was even a GameBoy emulator named Phoinix,
which ran on good ol' OS 3.5 and DragonBall processors! It was slow, but Pokemon Yellow looked so cool on it! :-D
There was also a Rayman game people were crazy about. I also played Space Trader on it (Privateer clone).
This was also the time I got heavily into emulation, it was possible to download the PalmOS from the Palm device
to the PC and use it with the official PalmOS Emulator (part of the free dev kit).
I think I was still using Win98SE at that time.

Later I also got several Pocket PCs. The first one I got was a HP Jornada 540 with a broken battery.
It had a metal case and was very well built. Replacing the battery was easy as pie.
And it ran a WinCE 3.0 version called "Pocket PC 2000" and I played several games on it and also listened to music
(hey it had a full featured Windows Media Player!) years before the iPod appeared! This was soo cool back then.
And later I even got an Compact Flash Wi-Fi card for it (WEP 64 and 802.11b only), but I had to search for older drivers,
because the Jornada used the ancient SH3 processor.

For those of you who don't know: PPC2000 was the last WinCE OS to support SH3, MIPS and ARM (yup, that ARM. Intel later made
the StrongARM, before giving up on it).Later versions solely used the "ARM" architecure, which originally stood for Acorn RISC Machines
(later the word "Acorn" was replaced by "Advanced", to hide the fact this technology didn't came from Intel, I guess).
So yes, old Pocket PCs and new fancy Android tablets do use the same processor that descents from a CPU made in the mid-80s.

Anyway, these Pocket PCs were quite powerful for their time, I think.
I was able to play NES,SNES and TG16 games on it using an multi-platform emulator named "Yame". :-D
There were also native games, using the GAPI architecure (Game API). One of them was a tron style game.
GAPI was a DLL you had to download and to copy into the Windows directory. Later versions shipped with it.
It was removed starting with Windows Mobile 5.0, which looked like early builds of Longhorn.
This was also about the time they split up Windows Mobile into the full "Pocket PC" version (aka legacy version)
and the "Phone" version. Anyway, it was still possible to install GAPI manually.
Another new, hot thing was the introduction of VGA resolution instead of QVGA (quarter VGA).
Older applications without support for this got scaled by the OS transparently (pixels doubled by 2x2).

But there were also other Pocket PCs I had. Like the Casio Cassiopeia E-500.
Another was a Compaq Aero, running on WinCE 2.11. It was cute and very lightweight.
It had the Win95 style GUI and several "Pocket" versions of popular MS products.
I remember that I hunted down an early MP3 software for it and made myself an 2.5mm audio adapter.
But the coolest thing I did was probably running a real emulation of DOS on it (I used PocketDOS with ROM-DOS).
Seeing Norton-Commander and Windows 3.x running on this cute tiny computer was soo awesome (there's even an official Win3.x mouse driver)!
I was excited just like people of today, when they see Windows 95 on a SmartWatch or an iPhone.



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Here's a photo of PocketDOS running a copy of Gateway (awesome game, btw!)


Anyway, I hope I didn't get on your nerves with all that talking. :sweatdrop:



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Have some Neko as compensation. ^^


In case you're curious, here's some more stuff to check out:


Pocket PC

PocketDOS - Adds DOS compatibility to your Pocket Computer
http://www.pocketdos.com/

Total Commander for Pocket PC
http://www.ghisler.com/pocketpc.htm

freewarepocketpc.net
http://www.freewarepocketpc.net/
(good site, despite all the ads)

GAPI for Handheld PC’s
http://www.wincesoft.de/html/gapi_for_hpc_s.html



PalmOS

Phoinix, the free Gameboy emulator for PalmOS (archived)
https://web.archive.org/web/20160422025 ... forge.net/

Phoinix at Sourceforge
http://sourceforge.net/projects/phoinix/files/

Palm Vx GB Emulator (Video of Phoinix)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAmOMdp4h4U

Emulators for PalmOS at zophar.net (incl. Phoinix)
http://www.zophar.net/palm-os/gb.html

Old school throwback: Play Space Trader, of Palm OS 2.0 fame
http://thenextweb.com/apps/2012/04/18/o ... s-2-0-fame

Privateer Themed Palm Game Released
http://www.wcnews.com/news/update/5052

Neko for PalmOS
http://www.geocities.ws/dexhm/hb.html


Miscellaneous

Old Organizers Collection
http://old-organizers.com/index.htm

IC35 - The Unifier at old-organizers.com
http://old-organizers.com/MorePicts/MP183.htm

Rexpro PC card organizer
http://www.computerhistory.org/collecti ... /102674732
http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/ ... Organizer/



Btw, there were also other cool palmtop computer we shouldn't forget!
Like casio PocketViewer series and the Olivetti Davinci!

The PV series had an cool tiny OS and plenty of software for it.
It were popular long before the MS PocketPCs and had a fine, energetic community.

The Davinci was also an interesting little device (clip).
It was low priced, had an optional keyboard and even got an official Emulator for software development.

Also fascinating was the Rexpro organizer from Franklin. It was not only in the size of a PC Card, it WAS a PC Card.
The whole PDA could be inserted into the PC-Card slot of a notebook!

And then there was also the IC35 ("The Unifier") made by Siemens! It was essentially a tiny latop at the size of a pack of cigarettes!
It had one (or two?) MMC slots, a full keyboard and it was able to run self-written applications (*.app). The SDK was for free, aswell.
I was lucky to had one of these! I ran several games and a full blown BASIC interpreter on it (like GW-Basic).
Sadly I never had enough money to afford an Multi Media Card for it (this was before SD cards, back when 16MB cards were huge and expensive).
So I always had to use the docking station and remove apps when space was scarce.

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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby Errius » 2016-7-13 @ 09:17

My first was a black-and-white 3Com Palm III circa 2000. Still runs well. It had Palm OS 3.x when it came to me but now runs 4.1. I even got the modem for it. The 'Graffiti' writing system became second nature, though I haven't used it for years now. (The Palm smartphones have keyboards.)
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby RacoonRider » 2016-7-13 @ 10:20

In my opinion, WindowsCE was a huge mistake. If we take HP 200LX, it's MS-DOS and XT compatible (not entirely though), so a lot of MS-DOS software runs well there. Hell, I have even been able to launch Mathcad and plot several graphs! Also featuring a good set of built-in applications, it had everything it needed to be a commercial success.

Later WinCE models though... I'd rather be able to run an outdated DOS version of software I need than hardly any software at all!

Btw, I use 200LX every now and then, mainly for keeping logs of bicycle training and maintenance. I love hp's text editor and the real keyboard instead of the virtual touch stuff. It has a good tool for personal bookkeeping, although I don't do that anymore... Appointments manager is another useful feature. It also has Hearts&Bones, a creative Winmine clone, and even Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet calculator built in! So it basically has everything a modern tablet is capable of if you exclude internet, music and videos and taking pictures of yourself and your food :dead:.
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Re: Handheld PC's: What happened to them?

Postby brassicGamer » 2016-7-13 @ 13:03

I was well into Pocket PCs back in the day, but someone in my company wanted a handheld device he could use for his Exchange account. I research and got him one of these:

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NEC Mobile Pro 900, with a choice of Win CE or Win Handheld 2000. I can't remember exactly how he used it, but it was either Activesync or tethered to his phone or both. It never caught on and the HPC itself went missing, mysteriously (nothing to do with me, for a change). The passive matrix LCD sucked and Compact Flash was expensive. Limited uses.
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