The 2MB HP 100LX: First Impressions

By Hal Goldstein

We have had a 2 megabyte unit for a few days, and we like it.

The Appearance

It looks the same as the original 100LX. The only difference is that "Palmtop PC/2MB RAM" appears in the upper right of the screen in gold rather than "Palmtop PC/1MB RAM" in white. Looking at a 1MB 100LX and a 2MB 100LX side by side, the screen contrast appears better on the new unit. The 80 by 25 screen seems more readable. (If you upgrade, your HP 100LX receives a new system board which contains memory and the latest ROM version, but not the screen).

File Storage Strategy

I have not yet decided on how I will store my files. At first I stored a 200K fax program from Chaplet Peripherals EGO Fax Modem (another 300K is needed for scratch space). I also included my favorite DOS utilities. There is still a good bit of room for my key PHONE, APPT, DataBase, and 1-2-3 files. (I like keeping a copy of important, frequently updated files on both the 100LX C drive and on a flash card.) In general I will keep my 20MB SunDisk card as my A drive. When needed, I can substitute the Ego Fax modem or whatever turns out to be my favorite PCMCIA fax/modem card for the flash card.

Why Two Megabytes?

 The 2MB HP 100LX advantages are two-fold. First, the unit becomes more self-contained. Most people can store their basic PHONE, Data base, APPT, and 1-2-3 files in the 1.4 Meg available on the C drive. (ACE Double Card software applied to the C drive could double that storage capacity.)

Secondly, the 2MB 100LX opens the way for HP Palmtop users to enjoy the coming PCMCIA card revolution. Take a look at my User to User column and Mark Scardina's article to get a feeling of future possibilities for the HP 100LX PC card slot. Wireless communications using only the PCMCIA slot should be available quite soon. Prices will continue to fall for both PCMCIA memory and I/O cards.


As I mentioned last issue, one of my disappointments is the lack of visibility of the HP 100LX. There has been some advertising, but too many people who could make use of an HP Palmtop still don't know about it. One of the reasons is HP's distribution strategy. Until now the HP 100LX has been available in the U.S. almost exclusively through HP dealers. HP's strategy was to let those HP dealers responsible for selling LaserJets and DeskJets to major corporations, sell large qualities of HP Palmtops into those same Fortune 500 companies.

Unfortunately the net result is a lack of availability of the HP 100LX to the general public. I took a trip up to Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa and couldn't find a 100LX. Previously, I could have checked out the University Book Store for the HP 95LX. The HP 100LX should be displayed at more consumer-oriented outlets. If people had a chance to press the blue keys and see what the HP Palmtop could do, many more would be sold.

The good news is that HP is gradually increasing its HP 100LX distribution outlets. Recently, it loosened its HP Palmtop dealer requirements so that not only EduCalc could sell them, but companies like HP Palmtop Paper advertisers ACE Technologies, Global Connections and Classic Computers. With the introduction of the 2MB 100LX, HP 100LX's can now be found in Service Merchandise and Office Depot. Still I wish I could go to a Best Buy or better yet a Wal-Mart and take a look at a unit.

To Upgrade or Not To Upgrade

HP 95LX Users

Those of you seriously considering purchasing a 100LX, check out the reviews in the May/June 1993 issue. Also read sidebar for "trade-in" possibilities.

If you have an HP 95LX, now is an excellent time to purchase an HP 100LX. Many of you may have been waiting for the prices to come down and for any bugs to be eliminated. The street price for an HP 100LX is now close to $500, the 2MB unit, $700. (The ROM version on the 100LX is 1.05A.) The chief advantages of the 100LX over the 95LX:

  1. 1. More applications; easier to use, more powerful applications -- In particular the HP 100LX applications based on the database program, such as data base, phone, APPT, World Time, NoteTaker, are significantly better than any 95LX equivalents and can hold much more data.
  2. 2. Greater DOS compatibility -- Most reasonably sized DOS programs that can run under CGA graphics will work on the 100LX. The 80x25 option eliminates the scrolling 95LX users were accustomed to. The true 10-pin serial port offers better communications capability.
  3. 3. PCMCIA Release 2 -- As described in this issue, fax/modem cards and other I/O cards can be made to work in the HP 100LX.
  4. 4. More robust C drive -- It is fairly easy to corrupt files on the HP 95LX causing loss of data. The problems of the HP 95LX have been resolved and the C drive on the HP 100LX is almost incorruptible.



Excuses not to upgrade
  1. 1. Built-in applications can be slower -- Because of increased capabilities of HP 100LX applications, they can be significantly slower. PHONE book finds, and APPT ToDo's can be painfully slow. In future issues we will present some ideas for speeding things up. (One hint, create a data base for your ToDo's rather than using TODO in APPT.) However, most users find the added capabilities of HP 100LX well worth these usually minor annoyances.
  2. 2. Smaller characters harder for some to read -- For those of us with older eyes the standard 64-columns by 18rows screen in many of the built-in applications may be hard to read. However, this is not a problem with most users. If you have doubts, take a look at one before buying it.



Upgrade Your HP 100LX from 1MB to 2MB

Here are the major reasons why you should consider upgrading your HP 100LX.

  1. 1. Greater internal file storage -- More can be stored on the 2MB HP 100LX without dependency of a memory card. More core files can be stored on the HP 100LX for those with multiple memory cards.
  2. 2. Greater electronic communications possible -- Increased internal file storage capabilities enhances the Palmtops ability to use fax/modems and other communication devices.



The Evolution of HP Palmtop Computing

What to do with your old HP 95LX