Mobile Retro Options

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by matz, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. matz

    matz Member

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    I've been on the lookout for a small retro laptop for mobile gaming needs. Came across this on ebay:

    Hitachi Flora 210 SubNoteBook

    Never heard of an Hitachi Flora before but in any case the specs look reasonable, I'd need an external PCMCIA floppy and CDROM, but that's ok given it keeps the weight and size of the main unit down.

    Any other good Pentium 1 class alternatives that are small and lightweight from the era? I'm in no rush so can hold out for the right machine.
     
  2. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    Only downside to laptops of that era were the terrible display lag and ghosting.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    matz

    matz Member

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    Yeah I've got a few older Thinkpads (755C, 765XD, 390 etc) don't mind the displays so much they are just too heavy and bulky, would rather a smaller subnotebook from the era.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  4. bYrd

    bYrd Member

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    I’d look into a Toshiba Portege of the same era, small and slim and without quirks of dealing with a unknown Japanese unit. Look also into the Casio FIVA, Fujitsu Lifebooks and Sony VAIO P Series.

    I still really like Librettos, the screen and keyboard is not terrible to use for retro use, and can be docked to larger components
     
  5. power

    power Member

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    What are you playing that requires a laptop? Would a portable not be a better option? Thinking hacked PSP or similar.
     
  6. Flamin Joe

    Flamin Joe Member

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    If you look at the description for that listing it makes mention that this design was sold to IBM who in turn released it as the IBM Thinkpad 235 so it's not as unknown as you might think.

    I saw this one the other day, very nice looking laptop. My only concern with older laptops though is availability of parts but at least in this case IBM also released their own branded version so that should make things a little easier.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    matz

    matz Member

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    Early Sierra 'X Quest' and other random DOS titles, the kind where a keyboard is generally required.

    I contacted the seller yesterday to see if they had an external drive with it (they don't) however apparently they do have an IBM 235 with an external floppy which they will be listing so may take a punt on that dependent on price.
     
  8. BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Are you playing speed sensitive games?

    Other than the quality of the screen, a fully functioning soundcard in DOS may pose an additional challenge.

    Edit: Check out this Vogons thread which recommends the Toshiba Satellite Pro 4xxxCDT series for DOS support.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
  9. OP
    OP
    matz

    matz Member

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    Thanks that thread was helpful, will start looking into the Satellite Pro series.. The IBM 235 is now on ebay, a bit pricey but I'm very tempted, so small!
     
  10. mkusanagi

    mkusanagi Member

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    One of the big things about the Chandra/Ricoh RIOS/Hitachi Flora/IBM 235 is that they were actually designed for insurance companies and there was a demand for maximum battery life. To this end they have not only dual batteries, but they are Sony InfoLithium NPF-530 (if I recall correctly) which are still pretty common to get today. They are hot-swappable, and you can even remove the laptop's battery cover to put extended sized batteries in which would also tilt the unit forward, though it's probably not recommended as there was no positive lock on the batteries with no cover in place.

    The 235 also had some other advantages like integrated USB support and 2MB of video ram. Though the Flora listed does have a 640x480 native TFT screen (they did come in STN also) vs the larger, but 800x600 display.
     
  11. iMic

    iMic Member

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    They're excellent little machines, aren't they? Very small, appropriate for the intended market but it does have its drawbacks as a retro machine. The screen is good, being a TFT active matrix, but the keyboard is a bit too cramped for anything other than basic fun, and it doesn't have a PS/2 IN. (I would have used my 50CT for basic Office and classic programming otherwise.)
     
  12. bYrd

    bYrd Member

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    Surprisingly I've felt little limitation in using it as a DOS/Windows 98 machine, apart from looking like a fool using a manbag sized laptop on a desk. I've even taken mine away on trips loaded with DOS games and found TFT screen responsive and crisp, SBPro level sound is good (if a little noisy at times) and the main keyboard keys just allow you to touch type. There is a small port replicator you can pick up that just plugs into the back with requisite PS/2 ports (not the large base replicator with extra PCMCIA slots). And I don't miss USB one bit when you can plug a PCMCIA card reader into the spare slot.

    It's also a hackable little thing, with the ability to overclock and add a CF IDE HD. Satellite and Porteges also have the ability to be overclocked.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
  13. OP
    OP
    matz

    matz Member

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    Thanks all, lot's of good options there, I've got a bid in on a Libretto 50CT and looking out for relevant Portege and Satellite Pro's as well, finding one with a native 640x480 TFT panel is tricky.

    Had a few drinks out last night and came very close to buying both the Hitachi Flora & the IBM 235... bought some studio lights instead :)
     
  14. samus

    samus Member

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    If you end up not liking money, there is always the Pyra/Pandora replacement. For a cheaper solution, there is always a raspberry Pi portable options, that you can build a keyboard into.
     

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