Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club Meeting

Wednesday, December 14, 1994 - Drexel University

Hewlett-Packard Introduces New Omnibooks

Last month's Comdex show in Las Vegas brought us two new HP portable computers: a fifth installment in the subnotebook ranks and a first version of a "regular" notebook-sized machine. The 3.8-pound omnibook 600C succeeds the model 530, which had just been announced last June. The new unit has a passive-matrix color LCD (as opposed to monochrome displays in all predecessors), 170 or 260-meg PCMCIA hard drive, DX-2/50 or DX-4/75 CPU, 4 or 8 megs of RAM (expandable to 16) and Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries. Many of the criticisms of the older units (being slowness, lack of color display and small disk capacity) have been addressed, and this machine should really compete well with the others in its class.

Also, a new HP class, the omnibook model 4000 5.7-pound notebook was also announced. Manufactured by Twinhead and designed by HP in Corvallis, this unit looks like a slick entry in the higher-end of the portable "full-sized" machines. CPU speeds go up to a 100 megahertz DX-4 with color LCD, large disk drives and built-in floppy drive. It seems like HP originated this class of machine way back in the early eighties with its HP110 9-pound portable. That computer had an 8088-compatible chip, 256K of CMOS RAM, built-in Lotus 1-2-3 and the first "large" monochrome LCD at 16 lines by 80 columns. It's amazing how far we've come.

HP200LX CPU Speedup May Be Coming

In his weekly "newsline" phone message, Richard Nelson of Educalc recently reported that a talented individual successfully installed a faster crystal into an HP20OLX and effectively sped up the processor to twice its original 7.91 MHz speed. Also, in the latest edition of the Palmtop Paper, Hal Goldstein reported having his own 200LX sped up (by the inventors of the mod) while on a trip to Tokyo. Apparently, plans are being investigated to make this a third-party offering in the near future. We will be keeping our ears to the ground on this one. For those interested in keeping up with the Educalc newsline, check in at 714-582-3976.

HP48 Solver Accepts Programs as Input

In a recent discussion, the subject came up about the ability of the HP48 Solver to accept program objects as inputs as well as the usual algebraic equations. Apparently this is not well known, as I could not find this fact in any of HP's regular documentation. (I believe it was emphasized in a presentation made by HP's Bill Wickes a few years ago.) This comes in handy especially when a mathematical relationship between values cannot easily be expressed in a simple algebraic formula.

For the sake of example, let's say that a user wishes to solve the formula Y = 4X^2 + 3Z + K by supplying any three of the four variable values and having the HP48 compute the remaining value. One may enter the algebraic formula 'Y = 4*X^2 + 3*Z + K' as the solver's EQ variable and let the calculator produce it's usual custom menu with variables Y, X, Z and K. The solver environment allows entry of values for any 3 of the variables and solves for the remaining one. However, if the user is faced only with a program which produces a result, it also may be tailored to work in the HP48's Solver environment. Our example equation represents Y as a function of X, Z and K. If this were in program form it might look like this:

<< X SQ 4 * Z 3 * + K + >>.

If values for the three variables were already available, then executing the program normally would return the value for Y. In order to supply a program to the equation solver, it must always return a value of exactly zero. (This would be analogous to having the program return its "roots".) An easy way to make the program evaluate to zero would be to have it compute as before, and then subtract the resultant value in the form of its solution variable, Y. Thus, the program becomes

<< X SQ 4 * Z 3 * + K + Y - >>,

and now may be stored in equation variable EQ for use in the HP Solver environment. The calculator will extract the variables X, Z, K and Y from the program and establish the same custom menu as in the algebraic case. And again, any three may be entered with the solver solving for the fourth.

New EduCalc Catalog #66

The latest Educalc catalog arrived this week and it features the new Omnibook 600C and 4000 model notebook machines. Also check out page 60's list of "old" HP calculators that they now have to offer (in limited quantities). Jim Lawson (Handi Calc) has picked up some of these, so even if EduCalc has sold out, you may be able to still capitalize on the deal by contacting Jim. This catalog dedicates 15, 6 and 18 pages to HP palmtops, omnibooks and HP48 calculators respectively

HP Finally Dives into "Set Top Boxes"

From the electronics press, it looks like Hewlett-Packard has finally started designing hardware for their upcoming television set-top box which will connect cable-TV customers via a two-way CPU-based system. Check out the article in this handout. Apparently, from HP's market research, they learned that consumers would rather see their TV as the hub of household activities, than their computer.

"PC Tools" for the HP48; "DROPSAVE" for the HP48

Check out the writeups for these freeware programs recently posted on the Internet. The PC Tools library will outperform HP's memory-manager form (under the right-shift MEMORY key) in just about every way, especially in its incredible speed. This library is entirely in machine code.

The DROPSAVE library is a cute utility which captures the last n objects that the user has DROPped from the stack (note: this only applies to DROP, not PURGE, although it would probably make sense to have it capture PURGED objects as well) for easy reinstatement. The number of objects to be saved may be controlled by the user and the library functions may be automatically assigned to user keys.

Las Vegas CES Upcoming; Dutch Conference Notes Coming

The 1995 winter Consumer Electronics Show will be held in Las Vegas on January 6th to the 9th. An HP handheld users, meeting will most likely be held in Las Vegas the same weekend, and I intend to capture as much videotape, slides and literature as my arms can hold.

Also, I received Email from Gerlof Donga, the head of the Dutch PROMPT group, informing me that a copy of their October conference proceedings along with a videotape copy of the conference would be on its way in a few weeks. I look forward to viewing the presentations especially from the Hewlett-Packard representatives.


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