REVIEWS: It's Tough Finding a Good Movie, and Product of the Year Nominations!

You don't need Siskel and Ebert when you've got a 95LX and a product called Movie Guide. Readers nominate three more Products of the Year: PalmModem, acCIS, and VDE.

By Hal Goldstein

95LX At the Video Store

A couple of months ago I saw an ad from Banner Blue about their $49 Movie Guide. Movie Guide is a database of over 9,000 movies, giving you a plot description, actors and director, rating (1-4 stars), category (comedy, drama, etc.), award nominations and wins, box office sales, ratings and cautions about adult content, country of origin, black and white or color, year made, length in minutes and whether or not it's available on video. Movie Guide also contains information on over 8,000 movie stars and over 4,000 awards and nominations, including actors who have won or been nominated for an Academy Award, Cannes Film Festival winners, Golden Globe winners, and more.

Movie Guide's menus are intuitive, and you can search for movies in a variety of ways. For example, you can locate movies by title, by year by rating (1 to 4 stars), director, academy award winners, actor, and more. I thought, what a great use for the 95LX when I go to the video store.

I received a copy of Movie Guide, cleared off a 1MB RAM card, and put on 800K of files making up the Movie Guide software. (Using DIET from the Subscribers Disk saved me an additional 50K). I tried running Movie Guide and found it required 512K of System RAM (configurable in SET UP: Press (<Shift>) (FILER) System) which means Movie Guide requires a 1MB 95LX.

In order to run Movie Guide on the 95LX, I had to free up another 80K of System RAM by disabling System Manager. (See DOS tip in Fall, 1991 issue or page 8 in the Subscribers Disk manual for how to disable System Manager.) Once all those system resources are devoted to Movie Guide, it runs reasonably well from the DOS prompt. You need to use the (ALT)-Arrow keys to traverse the Movie Guide screen. Run it first on a PC to get familiar with the program. Once I set up the program and got used to its interface (it didn't take long), I found Movie Guide quite useable on my HP 95LX.

I use it at the video store in two ways. If I am browsing and see a title that interests me, I check its rating, description, and so forth on my HP 95LX. Alternatively, I use the guide to search for possibilities. For example, I might look up the 3-4 star movies in 1985, movies with Dustin Hoffman, or academy award winners in the 1940's to choose a movie.

Some Parallel Devices Don't Work with the 95LX

There are an increasing number of products designed for the computer's parallel port other than printers. These include hard drives, floppy drives, tape backup units, and even removable hard disk systems.

We unsuccessfully tried connecting a parallel floppy drive and a Bernoulli Transportable Drive to the 95LX using serial-to-parallel converters made by Widget and Palmtree.

The problem is that these type of parallel drives use software called "device drivers" to teach the system to communicate with the new device attached to its parallel port.

When we attempt to attach these drives to the 95LX's serial port via a serial-to-parallel converter, the device driver gets stumped. Unless an ingenious solution is found, it may not be possible to attach these parallel devices to the 95LX.

New Corvallis General Manager

HP Corvallis, Oregon, the home of the HP 95, has a new division manager. Dan Terpack, former General Manager, took a position with Tektronix, Inc., in Wilsonville, Oregon. Terpack is replaced by Frank Cloutier, a 19-year veteran of HP. Cloutier led the original development activities for HP's thermal inkjet technology and has been the manager of R&D for inkjet printer technology at HP's facilities in Singapore.

There have been other changes throughout the division, and this is not surprising as HP Corvallis expands into a new marketplace. Potential customers of HP palmtop computers are quite different from those who benefited from HP Corvallis premier calculators.

95Buddy: Frequently Asked Questions

For those who responded to my enthusiastic recommendation of 95BUDDY, version 2 (ON DISK ICON), check out BUDDY.FAQ (ON DISK ICON) in Library 7 of the HPHAND CompuServe forum. If you use the 95LX's built-in programs a lot, 95BUDDY is a must. It saves many keystrokes and makes the user interface much more intuitive. BUDDY.FAQ is a text file of frequently-asked-questions and includes details of 22 patches that fix bugs or modify features of 95BUDDY. The file also includes operating tips. My favorite patch is one that allows me to press most any key rapidly twice in succession to get its shifted value. For example, 3 pressed quickly twice produces a ? (question mark); h pressed twice creates a capital H.

Company to Clone 95LX

Copam, Inc. demonstrated a prototype of a palmtop PC similar to the HP 95LX. The palmtop they showed at the November 1992 COMDEX computer show had system-manager-type programs, came with DOS 5.0, 512K of memory, and a CGA-compatible screen. The price is reported to be about half HP's list price.

However, several 95LX users saw the unit and were not at all impressed. Palmtop Paper contributor Mark Scardina reported the following: "The computer was made from inexpensive looking plastic, had an unusable keyboard feel, and a barely readable display. The kicker is that the CGA screen only displays the upper left 40 x 16 portion of a DOS program's 80 x 25 screen display. No scrolling function is supplied and there's no way to view off-screen data!"

Product of the Year

In my last column I nominated 95Buddy, and Ace's SWITCH 2.0 and Double Card as HP 95LX product of the year. A number of people had other suggestions -- at least for honorable mentions.

Modem on a card

Many users are pleased with New Media's PalmModem, designed to slip into the 95LX's memory card slot. It comes with communications software and required RAM built into the card. PalmModem has a small plug-in cable and pod for the RJ-11 jack. It draws power from the 95 batteries, and can operate online for approximately one hour. It includes a 2400 baud modem and 4800 send fax.


Larry Tachna, CompuServe ID [76520,1630], writes: "Hal, don't miss the new release of acCIS for inclusion in Product of the year. It is available in the CompuServe, HPHAND forum, Library 6, under the filename ACCIS9.ZIP (ON DISK ICON). acCIS is System-Manager compliant, and has a clipboard and memo integrated into it. acCIS is a real nice piece of work. It does need COMMO or FastCOMM as the communications engine."

acCIS allows users to automatically log onto CompuServe, and download mail and forum messages using a modem and the 95LX. This process saves quite a bit of on-line time -- and expense!


Programmer Tony McNamara [76702, 1454] writes: "If not for the current versions of VDE (ON DISK ICON) and MASM, I would probably only barely tolerate the 95LX. MASM (Microsoft Assembly Language) clearly won't win product-of-the-year, partly because it's old, and partly because it has limited appeal. However, I write 95LX programs using MASM and use VDE as an editor (review of VDE on pages 27-28 of the Jan/Feb 92 issue).

"Too bad Finish Line (ON DISK ICON) isn't out for the System Manager yet -- that would have gotten my nomination, but not until it works in MEMO (review on pages 31-32 of the Mar/ Apr 92 issue). As it is, the single program I find most useful on the 95LX (other than those I've written and VDE) is probably Gene Dorr's CMCALC (ON DISK ICON). I only wish it included ASCII as a base."