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Re: laptop ideas (kinda long post)




On Mar 10, 2004, at 11:11 PM, Mark Garvey wrote:

I could just wipe out Windows and boot it up as a DOS machine, and run Xywrite on it, couldn't I? And theoretically such a machine would have no problem running the print
drivers and floppy drive I'd need, would it?

Yes, you could reformat the drive and then load a version of DOS and XyWrite. However, with Win 95 & 98 you can simply by-pass Windows starting with a simple change to the windows GUI boot command line in the system.ini file. (e-mail me for instructions if you're interested). This would give you and option to use Windows if you wanted.

Concerning what to buy - Here's my two pennies worth;

1st - If you don't have the need or desire to run Windows XP and mainly want to run DOS and XyWrite with maybe occasional Windows 95 or 98 use, I would save the $$ and search out a great older model laptop, especially if battery power isn't a big deal and you plan to be where you can plug into AC or use a car adapter -Most older laptops come with DOA batteries. There are companies which sell replacement batteries for many popular older notebooks but sometimes they cost more than the laptop is worth!

2nd - In my experience, many of the old laptops have better keyboards and are more solidly built than current offerings (especially for price).

Here is my "short list" of the notebooks that I have kept & currently own & use - my criteria is; durability - solid & responsive keyboard - system flexibility - size/weight & cost - None of the below listed have built-in CD/ROM drives.

1) HP Omnibook 800CT 166MHz
Approx $125-190 for a good functional one on e-bay. This is an early sub-notebook but has a wonderful keyboard (almost full size) and a great color screen - Very study and versatile. This is my primary XyWrite machine. I've set mine to boot into DOS and have option to boot Windows 98 from the C: prompt. XyWrite III & IV run beautifully. It prints to my portable HP Deskjet 340 & HP LaserJet 4P. New batteries are still available from many sources @ $90-100. It has PC Card slot, major ports including IR- It is small, portable, and light BUT has a solid construction and feel. (Drawbacks) - (1) uses an external floppy drive (2) no ps/2 ports (3) some persons don't like the unusual pop out mouse stick setup called the PAW (but for using XyWrite who needs a mouse?).

2) GRiD 1680C
Approx $80-120 Used by government & law enforcement. They were showing up surplus on e-bay a couple of years ago but I don't see many for sale today. These are a "ruggedized" notebook with fast 486 processor - built in floppy & all major ports, PC Card slot - Has solid responsive keyboard - The 1680C has color screen - The 1680 is B/W - Even ruggedized it's not bulky & only weighs about 6 lbs. - (Drawbacks): (1) Getting hard to find - new batteries expensive at $120 & also getting hard to find (2) Has an unusual "mini" trackball mouse.

(NOTE: Panasonic made this same notebook in a non-ruggedized version but with the same great keyboard - Panasonic CF-580. Tandy owned GRiD and made an identical non-ruggedized Tandy branded model but I don't remember the model number. The Tandy 4860HD looks to have the same keyboard but is slightly different body)

3) AST Ascentia 950N -
Approx $40-100 on e-bay - A bit larger and heavier (7 lbs) than the GRiD - BUT the nicest keyboard I have encountered for feel, response, and durability. A very sturdy notebook. A friend rebuilt me one of these after wanting an inexpensive notebook computer to run XyWrite with a great keyboard and color screen. It looks & operates like new. It is a Pentium 120MHz but other models of 950N exist. - It runs XyWrite III or IV without a hitch. Boots to DOS with option to run Windows 95 too. It has a PC Card slot, Floppy drive, and all major ports. Great value machine.

4) Other considerations - older Pentium Toshiba Satellite like the 110CS or the Toshiba Terca, Portege or an older Pentium IBM Thinkpad these models have fairly nice keyboards and are inexpensive and plentiful on e-bay. I don't have experience with Dell or Gateway to give an opinion.

5) In the very inexpensive pure DOS realm I would suggest; GRiD 1660, Toshiba 4400C or 4600C, Tandy 4500HD - These are all 386MHz DOS/Win 3.1 machines which can run DOS and Win 95.

Hope this is helpful - Joe Fisher