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The Great Palmtop Debate: HP 200LX vs HP 320LX Palmtop PC

The Great Palmtop Debate: HP 200LX vs. HP 320LX Palmtop PC


He has no guilt in using HP's 320LX

I've played around with my HP 320LX Palmtop PC for only a few days, so I'm no expert. So far, I am very impressed with it.

My only complaint is the screen is not as bright as the HP 200LX. It's actually no problem for me because mostly I use the HP 320LX with backlight and an adapter.

I am very happy with the built-in programs, especially Internet Explorer and Inbox (e-mail). I am on a trip in London so I need a rather complicated setup for e-mailing (for me anyway) and it worked brilliantly.

My ISP and mail/pop3 server is in Hong Kong and I wanted to connect to them by logging on to CompuServe in London. I followed the instructions in the enclosed manual and it worked first time. Very impressive.

Now when I travel I no longer have to log on to CompuServe and telnet (terminal emulation) to a couple of my ISPs to check e-mail while being online the whole time. The Inbox e-mail program can be an offline reader.

Pocket Excel and Word are ok for me because I don't do very complicated things on them. Actually, Excel will be great because my secretary will copy me files and I need it simply for reading information. She currently saves Excel files as *.wk1 (Lotus 1-2-3) so I can read them on my HP 200LX's Lotus 1-2-3. Pocket Excel on the HP 320LX will be better for me, since the screen is MUCH wider on the HP 320LX. Plus, Lotus 1-2-3 is too complicated for my needs.

I am still waiting for an offline CompuServe reader like I'm using now. When that happens, I might even pack away my trusty little HP 200LX. No guilt, though, because I'm still using an HP! We shall see.

Dick B. Chatjaval


The myth of DOS compatibility

Regarding the HP 100/ 200LX's ability to run DOS programs:

Unfortunately, the version of DOS that the machine runs doesn't permit EMS memory; the unit, itself, doesn't support VGA; and the upshot is, you can't really run the "last" batch of powerful DOS programs.

Take FoxPro, for instance. You can run version 2.4, but you can't buy 2.4. More recent versions may still be findable, but the HP 200LX won't run them.

So the claim of DOS compatibility is, in my opinion, more virtual than real.

Unlike the new HP 320LX Palmtop PC, the HP 200LX has a built-in database function, but if you have more than several hundred records, editing begins to slow, and at 500 to 1,000, it may take 30 to 120 seconds just to edit one record, save it and bring up the next.

Then if you need to go to another database, you have the same wait while one exits and the next loads. You can use Carousel to hot switch, but you loose big chunks of memory for each application.

Switching is not a truly background operation, and you end up managing things the computer should be managing. As weak as it is, the Mobile Forms database by AllPen is as useful as the database for the HP 200LX.

Lotus 1-2-3 on the HP 200 LX is more powerful than the HP 320LX's Excel, as long as you only want one spreadsheet and don't need to enter dates. Of course, when you need several spreadsheets you create a book of them in Excel and "hot key" from one to the next with the HP 320LX, as compared to Quit, Confirm, Close, Open, etc., with the 200LX's Lotus.

Dates? Just format the column and type them in with Excel. With 1-2-3, you either do something like enter @date(97,12,25) [and then format the cell as a date] or you have to write a macro. Same for time. Don't tell me that is a handy way to keep track of elapsed time and mileage.

So while the HP 200LX is a useful machine that fits all of the palmtop computing needs of many, it's an over simplification to focus on the weakest points of the HP 320LX Palmtop PC vs. the strongest points of the HP 200LX, then conclude that the HP 200LX is a superior piece of anything.

Both units have their strengths and weaknesses, but the market has left DOS and will never return. So the fact that it has some useful DOS stuff is not going to impress most of the folks who make a living using Windows on their PCs.

Don Vine


Why he likes HP 320LX Palmtop PC

The new HP 320LX I purchased is proving its worth in a number of ways:

- No-brainer syncing with Outlook, which our office uses.

- A better Web browser than I expected on such a small machine.

- Very useful screen size, and with backlighting it's actually pretty good.

- Easy e-mail access.

- Easier to use when not at your desk. I find using the pen with handwriting recognition like CalliGrapher (while holding the HP 320LX in one hand) much easier than thumb typing.

(Incidentally, CalliGrapher has to be tried to be believed. No training required, recognizes cursive, print, whatever.)

Sure, there are problems. No database, no RPN calculator, relatively limited spreadsheet, but I suspect that for most people it's a more useable solution (than an improved HP 200LX).

Vikas M. Gore



Won't program for WinCE

As the author of WWW/LX, PalEdit, HV, QuickLX, and other popular HP 200LX programs, I've been encouraged by a number of people to start writing programs for the new WinCE platform.

Sorry, but I have no intentions of developing anything for what I consider one of the poorest platforms available. I am less interested in turning something that is currently "not really usable" into something that is "barely usable." I am more interested in perfecting already useful things.

Also, I am not interested in purchasing a desktop computer with Windows (and upgrading it all the time) just to be able to do something as simple as a backup, or installing software. This would be necessary because WinCE forces you to use a Windows desktop for making backups, installing software, and development.

Also, software development for the CE would lock me to a desktop and force me to develop within a system where I would spend a lot of my time rebooting and finding work-arounds for all the flaws. (I think it is obvious that I am not a Windows fan.)

By the way, everything I developed for the 100/ 200LX was developed on my 200LX. This alone made it possible to develop all the software I wrote. If I had been locked to a desktop, I simply would not have had the time to write any of it. On the HP 200LX, I can work whenever I have some spare time, e.g., when sitting in a train or in an airplane.

Andreas Garzotto


He sent back his WinCE unit

I had a Windows CE machine for two weeks and ended up sending it back for credit. Why?

  1. 1. The CE version of Calendar doesn't have a search utility. So if I enter an event or appointment, but later can't remember the date, I have to manually go to each date and search for the item! My HP 95LX Appointment lets me search.
  2. 2. The CE version of Excel doesn't allow me to freeze rows or columns, so once I scroll, I loose my column headings. I want my 1-2-3!
  3. 3. The calculator is a total waste; nothing but the basic +,-,*,/. I have to have the power of my HP 95LX, with which I can write my own equations in Solver.
  4. 4. The screen was not bright enough to read, and required constant adjustment with every new location. To use the backlight was to destroy the battery life.
On the plus side, I really like MS Outlook, which loads on my desktop. I also liked using the stylus like a mouse. But these pluses were far outweighed by the negatives.

I'm now determined to buy an HP 200LX 4 Mb. For $739, the CE machine wasn't a good buy.

Michael Valadez


Returns HP 320LX, prefers HP 200LX

I'm returning my newly-acquired HP 320LX Palmtop PC for a refund. For what it's worth, here's why: I loved the keyboard and the screen of the 320LX. But that's where it stopped. The rest is a triumph of marketing over many years of engineering excellence and creativity at HP regarding calculators and handhelds.

For my own individual purposes, HP would have done us all a great service if it had done nothing more than put all of the outstanding functionality of the HP 200LX inside the HP 300/320LX case.

To stay with the HP 320LX Palmtop PC, I'd be giving up too many outstanding features of the HP 200LX, such as a much better PIM, a fully-functional RPN financial calculator, a much more functional spreadsheet, etc. Life is too short for such compromises.

It's of course possible that the HP 320LX wasn't intended at all for the HP 200LX crowd. In that case HP missed a deeply loyal market that's ready for an upgrade. It's also possible that the company was stuck with the pathetic limitations of Windows CE; if so, why bother?

That's why I'm going to continue using, enjoying (except for typing difficulties) and relying on my HP 200LX, until HP comes up with a worthy successor.

Ehud Mouchly


He returns HP 320LX, buys HP 200LX

Recently I bought a new HP 320LX Palmtop PC.

When I got home I began to convert my HP 100 files over to the new system. The calendar and phone systems were different from what I was used to, but they were acceptable, even though they don't have the characteristic HP attention to detail.

I was sorry to see that the HP calculator with solver wasn't included. I loaded my Lotus files into Excel and saved them as Excel files, then moved them to the HP 320LX. This is when my frustration began.

I discovered that the Pocket Excel couldn't plot the data in my Lotus files; nor could it run macros as Lotus can. I then scoured the manual to see what other limitations it had that Lotus didn't. Excel can't do any database functions such as sort or DSUM.

Unfortunately, these are the functions that I use frequently. It has no table calculation capability, and it can't do multiple linear regression. Lotus can do all of these. I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the HP 320LX Palmtop PC isn't an improvement for me.

Technically the unit looks good and works well. I like the back light capability. It's unfortunate that HP had to use the Microsoft operating system and programs. I don't think that anyone at Microsoft has any experience doing anything other than writing software.

The thing I always liked about HP equipment is that it seemed to be designed by people who actually knew how measurements or calculations should be done. They included those special features that made the user's life easier. My impression of Microsoft is that they think everyone spends all of their time surfing the net, making out expense reports and sending e-mail.

I guess I should have known better than to expect so much from Microsoft software.

I returned the 320LX and found that Service Merchandise is running a clearance sale on the 200LX. I bought one.

What convinced me to return the 320LX is that it has no Find function that I could discover in the Scheduler. I was in a meeting at work, and was asked about a future meeting that I was to attend. That's when I learned that that feature was not available. That night I discovered that it is available on the desktop version.

The Hewlett-Packard engineers who designed the software for the HP 100/200LX must have used the prototypes to learn what features are important.

I think that Microsoft simply started dropping features until they could shoe-horn their software into the available space. That approach doesn't serve the customer.

Genr Kohlenberg


iPhone Life magazine

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