Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller?
12-07-2016, 04:58 PM
Post: #1
 Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013
Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller?
I'm trying to find something handheld that I could run old Windows 3.1 and/or 95 software on (MS Access in particular). The OmniBook 300 does a great job of it, but it's quite a bit larger than what I'd like. Ideally, it should be something closer in size to the 200 LX, or maybe a Libretto 50CT at most.

Anybody know of anything good that's up to the task? It could be something old, or something new running, say, DOSBox. I'm mostly concerned with battery life and startup/resume time, which puts my Libretto out of the running.
12-07-2016, 05:50 PM
Post: #2
 Bill (Smithville NJ) Senior Member Posts: 442 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller?
Hi Dave,

For battery life and startup/resume time, you really can't beat a tablet. Of course there is no real keyboard, which might be a problem. I see where some have been successful getting Win 3.1 and Win 95 running in Dos box on an Android Tablet. Not sure how practical it really is. I've used DosBox on my Nexus 7 to run straight dos programs and it does work well.

I have a 8" WinBook that I picked up at MicroCenter for $100. If runs Windows 10 very well. It's fairly small and works good with either the on-screen touch keyboard or a small Bluetooth keyboard. It has a full size USB, so easy to copy files to/from it using a usb stick. If you need a real keyboard, you might think of getting one of the older Netbooks. Some of them were pretty small. You may want to look at UMPC. These were very compact windows machines. Do a search for UMPC. I had a Fijitsu U810 that I really liked. About the same size as the Libretto, had keyboard and screen rotated to become a touch screen. Decent battery life. Good luck with your search. Bill Smithville, NJ 12-07-2016, 06:09 PM Post: #3  Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? Yeah, tablets would do the trick, but I'd really like to find something with an actual keyboard, even if it's Libretto-sized. My 2012 Nexus 7 would probably handle DOSBox, but it wouldn't be very functional without a keyboard and decent pointing device. There were a bunch of UMPCs floating around about 8 years ago; some of those look pretty close, but I don't know how good their rechargeable batteries would be by now (one of the OmniBook's big advantages). 12-07-2016, 09:19 PM Post: #4  Bill (Smithville NJ) Senior Member Posts: 442 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? Getting any older device is always questionable on whether the old battery packs will hold a charge. I'm not sure what applications you need to run. You mentioned Microsoft Access. You might want to look into the NEC Mobilepro series of Windows CE machines. They have a very nice keyboard and screen. Will run pocket versions of Axcess, Excel, Word, etc. And they made an AA battery holder for some of them. I've had a couple of them and they are very nice machines. Bill Smithville, NJ 12-07-2016, 09:23 PM Post: #5  Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? (12-07-2016 09:19 PM)Bill (Smithville NJ) Wrote: Getting any older device is always questionable on whether the old battery packs will hold a charge. I'm not sure what applications you need to run. You mentioned Microsoft Access. You might want to look into the NEC Mobilepro series of Windows CE machines. They have a very nice keyboard and screen. Will run pocket versions of Axcess, Excel, Word, etc. And they made an AA battery holder for some of them. I've had a couple of them and they are very nice machines. Bill Smithville, NJ I've actually got a MobilePro 900, upgraded to the "Handheld PC 2000" OS. It's a pretty nice machine, and the battery pack uses standard 18650 cells (I think that's the part number), so it was really easy to do a rebuild. Unfortunately, Pocket Access is very limited compared to the desktop version; I think they intended it more as just a database layer, with any real front-end development happening with Embedded VB (which I don't think you can do on-device). 12-08-2016, 10:59 AM Post: #6  Alejandro Paz(Germany) Member Posts: 134 Joined: Mar 2016 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? I was wondering if your need for Access was that important, I mean that it HAS to be access. If not, you could look into FoxPro, which at the time (~95) could also run in DOS. But I'm not sure if it runs on a 186 (200LX). 12-08-2016, 12:19 PM Post: #7  Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? (12-08-2016 10:59 AM)Alejandro Paz(Germany) Wrote: I was wondering if your need for Access was that important, I mean that it HAS to be access. If not, you could look into FoxPro, which at the time (~95) could also run in DOS. But I'm not sure if it runs on a 186 (200LX). It wouldn't strictly have to be Access, but as that's what I'm most familiar with in terms of rapid database development platforms, I'd be up and running the quickest for that particular usage. I've been looking at various DOS database tools to see what's most appropriate for the 200LX. DataPerfect is a really good fit for the hardware, but it's got some quirks that make me a little nervous. (e.g. you can't make structural changes if there's any data in a panel/table, and I'm not sure how well it allows you to do mass updates for refactoring or normalizing). I'll probably take a look at FoxPro 2.0 for DOS to see how well it holds up. The big hangup for a lot of these old tools is how much good documentation is readily available, and DataPerfect is at least in pretty good shape there. If my old EeePC 701 were a bit smaller and had better battery life, I'd probably just throw WinXP and Access 2002 on there and be done with it. 12-08-2016, 07:08 PM Post: #8  Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? Follow-up question: Can anybody recommend a decent, cheap, 7-inch Android tablet that does a good job with DOSBox? I'll probably give it a try on my 2012 Nexus 7 running CyanogenMod, though that thing started getting pretty sluggish after around Android 4.4 or so. 12-08-2016, 10:45 PM Post: #9  Bill (Smithville NJ) Senior Member Posts: 442 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? (12-08-2016 07:08 PM)Dave Britten Wrote: Follow-up question: Can anybody recommend a decent, cheap, 7-inch Android tablet that does a good job with DOSBox? I'll probably give it a try on my 2012 Nexus 7 running CyanogenMod, though that thing started getting pretty sluggish after around Android 4.4 or so. Dave, I also have the Nexus 7, 2012, and when it updated to Android 5, it became totally useless. I ended up reloading 4.4.4 on it and it's back working pretty good. I was hoping that Google would bring out a new tablet this year. Before you buy a new Android tablet, try loading "AnDosBox" on the one you have. You should also load "Hacker's Keyboard" which will give you access to the Dos function keys. There's also DosBox Turbo, but I haven't used it. I've run some dos programs on the Nexus Tablet - but I find using the touch keyboard a pain - especially for a long period of time. I did run the first edition of Leisure Suit Larry on it. Also loaded Cpack200 on it. Bill Smithville, NJ 12-09-2016, 12:01 AM Post: #10  Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? (12-08-2016 10:45 PM)Bill (Smithville NJ) Wrote: Dave, I also have the Nexus 7, 2012, and when it updated to Android 5, it became totally useless. I ended up reloading 4.4.4 on it and it's back working pretty good. I was hoping that Google would bring out a new tablet this year. Before you buy a new Android tablet, try loading "AnDosBox" on the one you have. You should also load "Hacker's Keyboard" which will give you access to the Dos function keys. There's also DosBox Turbo, but I haven't used it. I've run some dos programs on the Nexus Tablet - but I find using the touch keyboard a pain - especially for a long period of time. I did run the first edition of Leisure Suit Larry on it. Also loaded Cpack200 on it. Bill Smithville, NJ Maybe I'll try flashing back to 4.4.4 stock to see how it handles. Though I sort of remember having issues with it trying to auto-download the 5.0 update, and getting wake locks when I attempted to prevent that. It's definitely not very useful with the current 5.0-based Cyanogenmod, however. 12-09-2016, 02:39 AM Post: #11  Bill (Smithville NJ) Senior Member Posts: 442 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? (12-09-2016 12:01 AM)Dave Britten Wrote: Maybe I'll try flashing back to 4.4.4 stock to see how it handles. Though I sort of remember having issues with it trying to auto-download the 5.0 update, and getting wake locks when I attempted to prevent that. It's definitely not very useful with the current 5.0-based Cyanogenmod, however. I was initially worried that it would try to automatically update. But I haven't had it try to update at all. Not sure if I turned something off or not. But I make sure I never intentionally do a System Update. I've been tempted to buy a 2013 version, since I understand that it is somewhat faster than the 2012 version. I just wish Google would bring out the next version tablet. I love the Nexus 7 and it's form factor. I had a 10 inch Acer Tablet, but found that I didn't like that size tablet. Even though I could do more with it due to the larger screen, I just never enjoyed holding it for long periods of time. Bill Smithville, NJ 12-09-2016, 03:05 AM Post: #12  Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? (12-09-2016 02:39 AM)Bill (Smithville NJ) Wrote: I was initially worried that it would try to automatically update. But I haven't had it try to update at all. Not sure if I turned something off or not. But I make sure I never intentionally do a System Update. I've been tempted to buy a 2013 version, since I understand that it is somewhat faster than the 2012 version. I just wish Google would bring out the next version tablet. I love the Nexus 7 and it's form factor. I had a 10 inch Acer Tablet, but found that I didn't like that size tablet. Even though I could do more with it due to the larger screen, I just never enjoyed holding it for long periods of time. Bill Smithville, NJ Yeah, Android tablets are kind of a dying breed at this point, and the rest of the tablet market isn't faring hugely better either; seems like the iPad is the only one hanging on. DOSBox isn't really a feasible option for my iPad, though, and I've yet to see a really good rapid-application-development tool for building databases on an iOS device. There are some good but special purpose database apps, and some general purpose ones that are a combination of too light on features, or very unpolished. I just reflashed with Cyanogenmod 11, which is based on 4.4.4. That should be a little slimmer, and give control over the auto-update facilities. I have to grab the basic Google Play/etc. package and install it tomorrow and we'll see how it fares. It was a pretty snappy tablet back when I got it, but every major OS release seemed to slow it down more and more. If CM 11 is still too sluggish, I can always try 10.2, but it looks like that version isn't patched against things like the POODLE SSL vulnderability. I've used a mouse and keyboard with it via bluetooth and USB OTG (bluetooth mice always seem to interfere with bluetooth keyboard response for some reason, so I tend to go wired), so this could potentially work well. If this doesn't cut it, I'll probably try to hunt down an 8-inch Win10 device. 12-09-2016, 03:36 AM Post: #13  Bill (Smithville NJ) Senior Member Posts: 442 Joined: Dec 2013 RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller? (12-09-2016 03:05 AM)Dave Britten Wrote: If this doesn't cut it, I'll probably try to hunt down an 8-inch Win10 device. If you decide to do Windows tablet, keep an eye out on Micro Center for their WinBooks. I have the TW-802. It came with Windows 8 on it and really wasn't that useful. Then I upgraded it to windows 10 and it works great. The one I got has 32gb drive and 2gb memory. It has a microSD slot, so I have a large card there and plenty of storage. Full size USB is also nice. I paid$100 for it last year. Don't know if you have a MicroCenter in your area or not. They seem to offer the WinBooks on a random basis - I guess whenever they get a shipment.

Since I have a Android Phone, I much prefer the Nexus 7 over the Winbook for things like email, calendar, web surfing, Kindle book reading, etc.

I use the WinBook for Windows desktop programs that won't run on Android.

Bill
Smithville, NJ
12-09-2016, 01:21 PM
Post: #14
 Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller?
(12-09-2016 03:36 AM)Bill (Smithville NJ) Wrote:  If you decide to do Windows tablet, keep an eye out on Micro Center for their WinBooks. I have the TW-802. It came with Windows 8 on it and really wasn't that useful. Then I upgraded it to windows 10 and it works great. The one I got has 32gb drive and 2gb memory. It has a microSD slot, so I have a large card there and plenty of storage. Full size USB is also nice. I paid \$100 for it last year. Don't know if you have a MicroCenter in your area or not. They seem to offer the WinBooks on a random basis - I guess whenever they get a shipment.

Since I have a Android Phone, I much prefer the Nexus 7 over the Winbook for things like email, calendar, web surfing, Kindle book reading, etc.

I use the WinBook for Windows desktop programs that won't run on Android.

Bill
Smithville, NJ

The nearest Microcenter (Madison Heights, MI) is about a 2-hour drive from where I live, so I don't get a chance to go there nearly as often as I'd like. Though it's probably better for my financial stability in the long run.

I like Android, and it's a decent OS under the hood (except for all the Java baggage), but I've never gotten to the point of falling in love with it. I lean toward iOS for day-to-day ease of use and privacy/security, and Windows or Linux when I want a more tinker-friendly platform. But if my N7 can fill a niche, I'm all for it.
12-11-2016, 01:06 AM (This post was last modified: 12-11-2016 01:07 AM by bhtooefr.)
Post: #15
 bhtooefr Member Posts: 62 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller?
There's the GPD WIN, although reports are that the keyboard is... not very good for actual typing.

There's also the Dragonbox Pyra, if you're going to do emulation: https://pyra-handheld.com/boards/pages/pyra/

Both of those are pretty close to the 200LX in size.
12-12-2016, 10:30 PM (This post was last modified: 12-12-2016 10:45 PM by matthiaspaul.)
Post: #16
 matthiaspaul Senior Member Posts: 385 Joined: Jan 2015
RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller?
(12-11-2016 01:06 AM)bhtooefr Wrote:  [...]
Both of those are pretty close to the 200LX in size.
Interesting, I wasn't aware of the GPD WIN. It's good to see that there are still new clamshell-design palmtop PCs with integrated keyboard. (The Pandora is not x86 compatible - which would be a no-go for me).

Only available on the used market any more, the Yukyung Viliv N5 is/was another fully x86-compatible palmtop PC similar in size to the 200LX:

1.33 GHz Intel Atom Z520 processor, 1 GB DDR2 RAM, Windows 7 (Ultimate - depending on model variant). Sturdy clamshell design with quality keyboard (unfortunately without a separate numpad and not localized - there were only 2 or 3 variants available - personally, I still prefer the 200LX keyboard as its much smaller key caps with "space around them" makes it easier to touch type without hitting several keys at once), integrated reverse optical mouse, high-res 4.8-inch 1024x600 backlit display with (single-touch) touchscreen, integrated 3G UMTS/HSDPA modem (depends on model variant), 32 or 64 GB SSD (depends on model variant), WiFi, BT, GPS, sound, USB 2.0, micro SD...
The most serious issue is the battery life: Originally lasting for several hours and about 2 weeks in standby, the proprietary Lithium-Ion batteries have meanwhile come down to about 1.5 to 2 hours (and a week in standby) - and since the vendor is out of business, replacement batteries are new-old-stock and therefore won't last much longer as well - no comparison to the 200LX, which virtually runs for "ages" on two standard AA batteries.

http://www.hermocom.com/archive/90-hplxn5

Size comparison:

GPD WIN: ca. 155 x 97 x 22 mm
Yukyung Viliv N5: ca. 172 x 86 x 25 mm
HP 200LX: ‎ca. 160 x 87 x 26 mm

Greetings,

Matthias

--
"Programs are poems for computers."
12-12-2016, 11:22 PM
Post: #17
 Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller?
I think I remember seeing the Viliv. Similar in concept was the UMID M1. But you're right about the batteries; those weren't very big packs in the first place, and I'm sure they don't hold much charge at this point.

I've got a Libretto 50CT, and that can run for maybe an hour or so on its original battery. Not too shabby considering the age. I'm tempted to track down some fresh cells to rebuild it, but that would just be for kicks. The suspend/resume time is pretty long and would make it a poor choice for a quick-pull-out machine (and it takes twice as long to read/write the RAM to disk since I upgraded it to 32 MB). It does do a sort of hybrid sleep, though, which is cool: when you enter suspend mode, it writes the RAM to disk, and then goes to sleep. After a certain time (no idea how long, but I think it's at least an hour or so), it shuts off completely to maximize standby time, so when you power it back up, it reloads the contents of RAM rather than simply resuming where it left off.

But the nice thing about all this old DOS software (and to an extent, Windows 3.11) is the ubiquity of DOSBox. I think you can get that to run on just about anything these days. I wish the PocketCHIP came with a higher-res screen, but 480x272 would be a bit too small for useful DOSBox, so I haven't bothered trying on there. I'm sure it would work fine on a CHIP connected to a display via HDMI or VGA, though.
12-13-2016, 06:45 PM
Post: #18
 Bill (Smithville NJ) Senior Member Posts: 442 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller?
(12-12-2016 11:22 PM)Dave Britten Wrote:  I've got a Libretto 50CT, and that can run for maybe an hour or so on its original battery. Not too shabby considering the age. I'm tempted to track down some fresh cells to rebuild it, but that would just be for kicks. The suspend/resume time is pretty long and would make it a poor choice for a quick-pull-out machine (and it takes twice as long to read/write the RAM to disk since I upgraded it to 32 MB). It does do a sort of hybrid sleep, though, which is cool: when you enter suspend mode, it writes the RAM to disk, and then goes to sleep. After a certain time (no idea how long, but I think it's at least an hour or so), it shuts off completely to maximize standby time, so when you power it back up, it reloads the contents of RAM rather than simply resuming where it left off.

Dave,

I had a Libretto 110CT that I put a CF card adapter into and ran a 4gb CF card as a hard drive. It would boot and run a lot faster than with the old hard drives. Plus it got better battery life. But I think the battery killer is more the display than the hard drive. If you want to give a CF card a try in your 50CT, I have a hard drive to cf adapter that will fit in place of the hard drive. Let me know if you want it.

Bill
Smithville, NJ
12-13-2016, 10:37 PM
Post: #19
 Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller?
(12-13-2016 06:45 PM)Bill (Smithville NJ) Wrote:  Dave,

I had a Libretto 110CT that I put a CF card adapter into and ran a 4gb CF card as a hard drive. It would boot and run a lot faster than with the old hard drives. Plus it got better battery life. But I think the battery killer is more the display than the hard drive. If you want to give a CF card a try in your 50CT, I have a hard drive to cf adapter that will fit in place of the hard drive. Let me know if you want it.

Bill
Smithville, NJ

That's pretty much the same setup I'm using, actually! The trick is to make sure you format the card while it's installed internally. The Libretto BIOS "hides" the last 32 MB from the OS to reserve space for suspend and resume. If you stick in a preformatted card, you risk blowing away whatever is in that space when you suspend.

Definitely runs much quieter, faster, and longer.
12-17-2016, 02:16 PM
Post: #20
 Dave Britten Senior Member Posts: 1,927 Joined: Dec 2013
RE: Something like an OmniBook 300, but smaller?
For anybody keeping score, I ended up settling on using DataPerfect on my 200LX and OB300 (and modern laptop, and various desktop computers...)

If you have any need for a no-coding relational database development tool for MS-DOS, I highly recommend checking it out. It works great in DOSBox, so you can run it on pretty much anything. I did a little write-up with some details and a few screenshots of the first "major" database I'm putting together:

http://dave.brittens.org/blog/new-nail-3...ammer.html
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