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HP 200LX or ? to Learn Programming & Other Uses

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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2020-05-07 11:15 PM
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ShadowMaster - 2020-05-07 11:51 AM

I have a 200LX, and while I don't use it that often anymore, it was one of the main devices I used back in my university years.

I always loved DOS, so there was already a collection of software I used often, and it was cool to use the exact same software I used on my desktop computer on a handheld device.

The 200LX was perfect for writing notes and reminders, and it was also great for organizing my phone and email contacts (back when the only option was to store contacts in the phone's SIM with very little space for things other than phone and name). I also heavily used Derive, which is a DOS CAS (Computer Algebra System) akin to Mathematica, Maple, Maxima, etc. I used it as an aid to understand and play around with different concepts from Calculus and Algebra (and I didn't have a powerful graphing calculator like the cool kids).

I also did a lot of coding on it (mostly on QB and TurboC). Sure, it wasn't as comfortable as coding on a computer, but it was great for the many times I wanted to play around with algorithms and ideas (I eventually ended up coding a couple of complete apps on it, though).

Nowadays I use it mostly as a serial console/terminal, and as a somewhat powerful graphing calculator (again: thanks to Derive).

Having said that... if your needs are anywhere near mine, BUT you have access to a more modern handheld PC, then I'd say it makes no sense to get a 200LX.
Any WinCE handheld will probably be a way better organizer than the 200LX, for starters, and they would give you internet sync/backup capabilities.
For math/calculus and code, yes, there's a *very* limited selection of HPC apps that would allow you to write code on the device or solve math problems on it (they exists, but there are not many), but you can always run PocketDOS on HPC/PPC and have access to Derive, TurboC, TC++, QB, VB for DOS, and what have you. All in full color and with "mouse" support out of the box (fun fact though: You can connect a serial mouse to a 200LX, because the serial port is pretty decent and standard, but it's definitely not a pleasant experience).


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Very helpful input and info....

Think your point about making sense to get a more modern handheld PC, resonates with how I've been feeling often with using 200LX since I received it recently. I'm realizing I am not as familiar and knowledgeable about the DOS world as you need to be in order to really utilize the 200LX productively.

Probably should use a Jornada 72x instead....

Meanwhile, just received a Psion 5MX yesterday, which does seem more like a Jornada, but with grayscale screen.....

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ShadowMaster Page Icon Posted 2020-05-08 4:42 PM
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ArchiMark - 2020-05-07 6:15 PM
Think your point about making sense to get a more modern handheld PC, resonates with how I've been feeling often with using 200LX since I received it recently. I'm realizing I am not as familiar and knowledgeable about the DOS world as you need to be in order to really utilize the 200LX productively.


Hey now! The 200LX certainly requires some arcane DOS knowledge to use it fully, sure, BUT...isn't it the same true for WinCE devices? (and pretty much any computing device). You do require a level of knowledge and understanding to use them to their full potential, so it's just a matter of learning.

My point, however, is that from a practical point of view there's very little you can do with a "native" DOS device that you can't do with "emulated" DOS. And most WinCE productivity apps are way more advanced than their DOS ancestors. That's all.

The 200LX *is* a really cool device: It can run forever on batteries, it's fast, sturdy, reliable (although mine is starting to show its age; I should start looking into giving it some maintenance or purchasing one in slightly better shape) and it lets you use the exact same software you could use on your desktop PC (20-30 years ago).
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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2020-05-08 8:47 PM
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Having had several WinCE devices in the past, I can say that you don't need much computing knowledge for those devices. They are pretty straightforward compared to modifying autoexec.bat and config.sys files, etc.

I would compare using 200LX to more like what I experienced some years ago with trying to install certain linux distros that required quite a bit of 'under the hood' OS knowledge.

WinCe is more like a simplified Windows desktop OS.

To be clear, I think the 200LX is a great and cool device. Just requires a certain knowledge that I lack and don't think I have the time and energy to deal with right now.

Best,

Mark
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ShadowMaster Page Icon Posted 2020-05-08 9:01 PM
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ArchiMark - 2020-05-08 3:47 PM

Having had several WinCE devices in the past, I can say that you don't need much computing knowledge for those devices. They are pretty straightforward compared to modifying autoexec.bat and config.sys files, etc.

I would compare using 200LX to more like what I experienced some years ago with trying to install certain linux distros that required quite a bit of 'under the hood' OS knowledge.

WinCe is more like a simplified Windows desktop OS.

To be clear, I think the 200LX is a great and cool device. Just requires a certain knowledge that I lack and don't think I have the time and energy to deal with right now.



Fair enough. I guess I always look at the devices from a developer's perspective, which normally requires being under the hood a lot.
If you are still looking for ways of getting into programming you can definitely do that on WinCE devices (and it will probably be a more bearable experience).
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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2020-05-08 9:47 PM
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ShadowMaster - 2020-05-08 1:01 PM

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ArchiMark - 2020-05-08 3:47 PM

Having had several WinCE devices in the past, I can say that you don't need much computing knowledge for those devices. They are pretty straightforward compared to modifying autoexec.bat and config.sys files, etc.

I would compare using 200LX to more like what I experienced some years ago with trying to install certain linux distros that required quite a bit of 'under the hood' OS knowledge.

WinCe is more like a simplified Windows desktop OS.

To be clear, I think the 200LX is a great and cool device. Just requires a certain knowledge that I lack and don't think I have the time and energy to deal with right now.



Fair enough. I guess I always look at the devices from a developer's perspective, which normally requires being under the hood a lot.
If you are still looking for ways of getting into programming you can definitely do that on WinCE devices (and it will probably be a more bearable experience).


Understand....and wish I had your knowledge.....

The language I've gotten the farthest on is Python...but still have a ways to go to be really proficient. Have tried on my own to learn C and C++, but haven't gotten very far.....

If you can use Python on WinCE that would be great....


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ShadowMaster Page Icon Posted 2020-05-09 12:05 AM
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ArchiMark - 2020-05-08 4:47 PM

The language I've gotten the farthest on is Python...but still have a ways to go to be really proficient. Have tried on my own to learn C and C++, but haven't gotten very far.....

If you can use Python on WinCE that would be great....



C++ is a bit of an unwieldy beast. Especially after the many revisions it has gone through. C is simpler, but a bit too low level for most applications nowadays (although it's my favorite programming language).

Now, I never tried Python on the CE, and I currently don't have a device to test it, but this is a thing that exists: http://pythonce.sourceforge.net/. I'd be interested in knowing if it works for you, and if it's more or less what you were looking for.
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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2020-05-09 12:17 AM
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Thanks for your input!

Unfortunately, I don't have a WinCE device now, so, can't test Python today....

Although I'm toying with idea of getting a Jornada 72x......again.....as I had one some years ago....even had linux running on it....was great, except for lack of proper suspend, saving work if you shutdown...

Debating if it's wise to get one.....

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HPC:Fan Page Icon Posted 2020-05-09 12:45 AM
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Just out of curiosity, whats better about a Journada 72X VS the NEC MP 900?
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2020-05-09 12:54 AM
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More compact size (making it easier to lug around) and better battery life are the primary advantages of the 720.
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HPC:Fan Page Icon Posted 2020-05-09 1:45 AM
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Thanks CE Geek.
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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2020-05-09 1:53 AM
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Agree about advantage of 72x is size, if you want more portable device....

Suppose the flip side argument for the 900 or 900c is it has larger keyboard and screen....
and a USB port built-in I think.



Edited by ArchiMark 2020-05-09 1:55 AM
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ntware Page Icon Posted 2020-05-09 1:59 AM
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...and WinCE4.2, faster CPU, and USB ports

Edited by ntware 2020-05-09 1:59 AM
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ntware Page Icon Posted 2020-05-09 2:01 AM
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But just to be clear, I still prefer the J720 over the MP 900C. I like compact devices, and even though the J720 has a slower CPU it still feels a bit snappier than the MP, perhaps due to CE3.0 being so lightweight
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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2020-05-09 2:07 AM
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I do recall from years ago, that I wished that J72x and 900/900c had a bit more vertical screen height...
So, less scrolling up and down....
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HPC:Fan Page Icon Posted 2020-05-09 2:49 AM
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I enjoy my MP900 with Cmonex's custom ROM. But it is kinda bulky. Thanks all for the info.
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