Notebook computing; new products from Teleram, Gavilan, Sharp and Portable Computer Support Group. David H. Ahl.
This month in our Notebook Computing column we take a look at several new computers, some new peripherals, software and books, as well as the fate of some previous entries in the field. Teleram and Dulmont: A New Team
Teleram, makers of the T3000 (see Creative Computing, Jan. 1984) has introduced three new family members, the T3500, T4000, and T5000. The T3500 is billed as an office workstation. It consists of an expansion chassis, 12" video monitor, and up to four floppy disk drives and can be used with any of the Teleram portable computers. The CRT displays 24 lines of 80 characters.
The main difference between the three computers is the size of the display. All have 80 characters with the T3000 having four lines; the T4000, eight lines; and the T5000, 16 lines. All three machines have 64K of dynamic RAM, 128K of bubble memory (expandable to 256K), RS-232 port, acoustic coupler, and AC charger. They run CP/M and include word processing and communications software.
In addition, Teleram has become the U.S. distributor for the Australian-made Dulmont Magnum notebook portable computer. The Magnum is available with either an 8- or 16-line LCD screen. It is based on the 16-bit 80186 mpu and has 128K of RAM (expandable to 256K), dual (external) 3-1/4" floppy disks (720K capacity), one parallel and two serial ports, a real-time clock, and a 74-key full-stroke keyboard. It runs MS-DOS and includes ROM-based word processing, spreadsheet, and planning/diary software as well as Basic. Gavilan--Revisited
Although the Gavilan was announced in June of u983 at NCC, quantity deliveries did not begin until June 1984. We were told there were some bugs to be worked out, some of which resulted in basic changes to the prduct itself. The computer is based on a 16-bit mpu, the 8088. The basic Gavilan has 96K and a 16-line, 80-character display.
The SC model has 64K and an 8-line display. Memory is expandable to 160K internally and 288K with a clip-on module. The machine has a double-sided 3-1/2" floppy disk drive with quad density for a total formatted capacity of 360K. In addition to standard keyboard, the machine has a touch panel above the keyboard, which Gavilan refers to as a "solid state mouse."
The machine measures 11.4" x 11.4" x 2.7" and weighs 9 lbs. The internal NiCad battery pack is good for eight hours of use and can be recharged to 80% of capacity in just one hour.
A snap-on thermal printer adds 4.9" to the depth and weighs five pounds. It can print characters or graphics on either thermal or plain paper.
The operating system is MS-DOS and currently-available software includes WordStar, SuperCalc 2, Acculink, PFS:File, PFS:Report, Basic, Pascal, C, and Macro, with many additional packages promised by the end of 1984.
Price of the Gavilan is $3995; the SC model is $2995; and the printer $985, with software packages ranging from $125 to $300. Departures From the Ranks
As we were putting together our annual computer Buyer's Guide, we were struck by the number of manufacturers of notebook portables that we had in our roundup in January that are no longer on the scene. Toshiba withdrew the T100 from the U.S. market and two other Japanese manufacturers, Canon and Casio, never really promoted their machines here in a major way.
Xerox dropped the 1800 (a machine made by Sunrise) altogether, while Convergent Technologies suspended production of the Workslate until current inventries are cleared. Micro-Office, looking for OEMs for their Road Runner, appears to be looking still, and, judging from the announced peripherals for the CC-40 that are not yet available, TI may be having some second throughts about that unit.
That means that in less than nine months, five to seven systems have bitten the dust. On the other hand, in the same time period, at least eight new systems have been announced. Hence, from the consumer point of view, you have more choice than ever before. Nevertheless, it is probably more important than ever to make a wise choice given the rapidly changing fortunes in this volatile market. Micro Floppy Drive and New Software for PC-5000
Sharp has introduced a battery-powered 3-1/2" micro floppy disk drive for the PC-5000 portable computer. The drive uses the standard Sony disk and records double density of (40 trakcs) on both sides for a total formatted capacity of 360K.
The unit measures 5.5" x 9.2" x 2.6" and weighs 6.6 lbs. It can be powered by either a rechargeable lead battery (6V) or an AC adaptor. The design is said to minimize bettery drain when the drive is not in use. the PC-5000 can interface with one or two disk drives (micro, mini, or one of each).
Sharp also introduced as 256K memory expansion cartridge for the PC-5000. The cartridge plugs into Slot 1 on the bottom of the computer and expands the internal 64K to 320K.
A software package designed by Diversified Computer Systems of Boulder, CO and sold by Sharp, converts the PC-5000 into a DEC VT102 terminal for use with DEC or other mini or main-frame computers.
Sharp is the process of testing a prototype Unix system on the PC-5000. According to Frank Barbosa of Sharp's System Division, "If test marketing shows an interest, we would proceeed next to an EPROM system for added speed and testing toward development of a ROM-based system." New Packages from PCSG
We have reviewed several packages from the Portable Computer Support Group for the Model 100 and have been generally impressed with their quality. While we have not seen these new packages, they sound interesting.
Type + transforms the Model 100 into an electronic memory typewriter. You see the last line on the screen as it appears on paper, as a virtual window. You can set the screen view area from an entire line to a single word to immediate print as you desire.
Type + provides word processing features such as tab, automatic centering, set margins, underline, and boldface. You can also store names and addresses, phrases, or paragraphs, and recall them with a single function key. Price is $69.95.
Tutor + is a program to teach touch typing and consists of 30 lessons which present exercises at graded speed. A nice feature of the program is the ability to set your own typing speed and learning pace. It also has a game option which challenges you to save the earth from destruction by typing faster and a more accurately. Price is $49.95.
Disk + is a pogram which allows you to use the disk storage on your Apple, IBM, PC, TRS-80, or CP/M-compatible computer to store and retrieve disk files with a single function key. The program utilizes the RS-232 port with a null modem cable. Price is $69.95.
Tenkey + is a program for business analysis. It performs strategic business "what if?" calculations, calculates amortization schedules, solves for any of 12 variables in financial formulae, and generates breakeven analyses, NPV, compound interest, and many other common business calculations. Price is $59.95.
PCSG has a free 14-page catalog which describes these products and several others in detail. New Books
Several excellent new books about the Model 100 (and NEC 8201) have recently appeared. The Simon & Schuster Guide to The TRS-80 Model 100 by Danny Goodman has ten chapters divided into three main parts. The first part has a general introduction to notebook machines followed by a comprehensive comparison of the Model 100 and NEC 8201. The two chapters in Part II cover the nuts and bolts of the hardware and interfacing to the outside world (one of the shallower chapters of the book). Part III, Ising Model 100 Software, markes up the last six chapters.
Many authors of books about the Model 100 seem to assume their readers have not read the manual and simply repeat the contents in different worlds. Fortunately, Danny doesn't slip into this trap and, in most cases, takes the reader one or two steps beyond the manual. On the other hand, some sections stop short of being truly useful. For example, Danny whets your appetite for transferring text files from the Model 100 to another computer and discusses the pitfalls, but doesn't really tell how to do it.
Nevertheless, in the 216 pages, you'll probably find several things that will justify the $9.95 expenditure.