Portable Suns - Summary

From: kovar@eclectic.com
Date: Wed Dec 18 1991 - 20:52:16 CST

I recently asked for information about Sun portables. Here's the summary
of the replies I received. I called up the various vendors and requested
more information from each of them.

Barry Shein wrote an article on the RDI machine in the July 1991 SunExpert,
so that's a good source for some more information.

I'll not be getting one for a couple of months, since I have to convince
my new company to buy one for me.

Many thanks to all who responded!


From: Thomas Weihrich <Thomas.Weihrich@arbi.informatik.uni-oldenburg.de>

Hi !

I just tested the Solbourne S3000 transportable.

I'd dump any Sun for this one.
It has got a 64 bit architecture while maintaining sparc compatibility.
It's fast. 48000 dhrystones.
And it's fully equipped. 40 MB main memory and 520 MB hard disk.

I'd like to swap my IPC for it, but I am afraid that Solbourne won't
agree to it. Too bad.

You might also try the Toshiba Sparc LT.
I cannot recommend the Britelite, because of the extremely slow LCD Display.

Get the Solbourne. It's got a 16" plasma display and Sbus slots.


From: kalli!kevin@fourx.aus.sun.com (Kevin Sheehan {Consulting Poster Child})

I've worked with the BriteLite from RDI. I may be prejudiced, as I was
involved in doing the boot proms, but it is portable, has a nice screen,
isn't too badly priced, and it even has Mac emulation!

Yep - they had a 640x480 screen at first, but now have a full 1152x900
screen on it. I got the opportunity to play with one last month here
in Oz, so I suspect they are available in the states :-)

                l & h,

Kevin Sheehan
Optimation Software Engineering

From: Glenn Carver <glenn@atm.ch.cam.ac.uk>

I hope this helps. We've recently bought a SPARC portable and I've had a
few experiences with it!

We bought a BriteLite machine. I believe the company name is the same in
the USA. We had a lot of trouble with the first machine we got. It only had
a 120Mb drive in it which made is hard to do anything useful with it. It also
has a 512x512 resolution screen i.e. a quarter the area of the normal screen.
Unfortunately the default font was the same and when not in OpenWindows, the
lines would wrap around. This made it impossible to use the suninstall
program to load the operating system software. The disk packed up after
a week as well. So we went back to our supplier....

BriteLite were contacted on our behalf, admitted they had problems but
then shipped their new machine which is the one we have now. It's been
very good and I've no complaints. Here's my assesment.

Same basic configuration as the first machine, IPC motherboard and all the
usual ports (except for monitor of course). Disk is now 220Mb and a different
manufacturer. I thrashed it solid for 2 days when we got it and it never barfed
once. Screen is still 512x512 but the default font has been changed to a
smaller one. suninstall is now usable to install software. One slight problem
is that the number of rows on the screen is less than 34 so some lines get
misplaced but this doesn't happen often. If you really hate it you can
use the 'eeprom' command to set the 'input-device' and 'output-device' to the
serial port and hook it up to another workstation and use 'tip' to get in.
That works fine.

The small screen is a bit of a pain as you can't have all the windows you'd
like on it. But I got used to it after a while as did most people who used it.
The screen on the BriteLite is an LCD and again takes some getting used to.
Rapid mouse movement can cause the mouse to disappear from the screen but
again it's just a case of getting used to it.

Battery life. Well, difficult to say. It depends so much on what you do with
the machine. The more disk I/O the quicker the battery wears down. The bigger
the disk capacity the quicker the battery goes. I guess we averaged about
2 to 2.5 hrs.

As for portability. I carried it home one night, 15min walk and had bruises
the next day! The machine itself isn't too bad but once you add a spare
battery pack and power transformer to the carrying case, you have to had a
car. I wouldn't want to use it on my lap for too long either! Our machine
has been to Sweden and back twice now and still going so no worries about
moving it frequently.

Overall impressions are very good. I wish I had one! If you can afford to
wait a bit and have enough cash, get one of the new full resolution screen
SPARC portables coming out soon. Would be worth it. Be careful of the asking
price. They are not advertised cheaply. However, this sector of the market
is developing so fast, you should be able to get a good deal. We knocked
2000 UK pounds off the asking price for ours. With the new full res screen
versions coming soon, you ought to be able to pick up a 512x512 cheaper.
One last tip. Put at least 12Mb memory on board.

Hope this helps.

Glenn Carver Email: glenn@atm.ch.cam.ac.uk
Atmospheric Chemistry Modelling Group Phone: (44-223) 336521
Chemistry Department Fax : (44-223) 336362
Cambridge University

From: john@rod.mitre.org (John Marsh)
Message-Id: <9112161418.AA17315@rod.mitre.org.mitre.org>
To: kovar@eclectic.com
Subject: Re: Any experience with portable Suns?
In-Reply-To: Mail from '"David C. Kovar" <kovar@eclectic.com>'
      dated: Fri, 13 Dec 1991 17:46:11 -0500

Before you leap on a portable sparc and run DOS emulation software on
it. If most of your work will be DOS, you will wish you had an Intel
based machine. DOS emulation software turns a blazingly fast SS2
into a DOS machine that runs about the speed of an original IBM AT.

Also, the DOS emulation software that I am familiar with, SoftPC
is EGA only and 286 only. If the DOS software you need to run
requires 386 or if you need to really run MSWindows in 386 mode,
SoftPC will not do what you need.

John Marsh, jmarsh@mitre.org

From: mdl@cypress.com (J. Matt Landrum)

I just saw and ad for a SPARC notebook. 18 mips, up to 240 Mb hard
drive and 32 Mb ram, ethernet interface, internal modem w/ fax.
It starts at less than 5k. I think I saw it in this month's SunExpert.
I believe there are several out there. I've heard that the battery life
depends heavily on hard disk access.

From: <bb@math.ufl.edu>

A visiting faculty member from Berkley wandered through the department
carrying a Britelite portable Sun IPC with 48 Meg in it. My boss
spoke to him, and it turns out he loves it and is tickled pink. I'm
not sure how he gets around the pmeg bug (not enough hardware VM
indirection registers; thrashes on VM mapping when more than 12 Meg is
put in), although it may be that a few microseconds of thrashing beats
the heck out of 20 milliseconds of paging.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo."
Brian Bartholomew UUCP: ...gatech!uflorida!reef.cis.ufl.edu!bb
University of Florida Internet: bb@math.ufl.edu

From: Gene.Saunders@west.sun.com (Gene Saunders)

Even if you don't get you wish (SPARC notepad, ala Tadpole's SPARCbook)
you could always hold your breath for a couple months, and toss Solaris
2.0 on your Intel-486 system. At least you'd get a real OS, even if
you can't get a real computer. ;-)

Gene Saunders	 | gene.saunders@West.Sun.COM | Save a tree; use AnswerBook.
Sun Microsystems | ..!uunet!sun!gsaunders     | gsaunders@[]
		OSI under development:	G=Gene;S=Saunders;O=West;P=Sun;C=COM
I'm the one your mother warned you about: views stated herein are my own.

From: Richard Evans <rde@topexp.co.uk> Date: Tue, 17 Dec 91 10:31:35 GMT Message-Id: <643.9112171031@igor.topexp.co.uk> To: kovar@eclectic.com Subject: Re: Any experience with portable Suns? In-Reply-To: "David C. Kovar"'s message of Fri, 13 Dec 1991 17:46:11 -0500

I'd just love to get my hands on a portable Sun, so I'm very interested in the comments you get.

Many of the portables that I've seen described seem to lack memory (< 16MB), disc (< 400MB) and screen resolution.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Richard Evans Telephone : (+44) 223 462121 Topexpress Ltd Telex : 817911 Topexp G Poseidon House, Castle Park Fax : (+44) 223 315057 Cambridge, CB3 0RD, UK E-Mail : rde@uk.co.topexp ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

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