Summary: Sun Portables

From: Schmidt, Jeff (
Date: Wed Sep 14 1994 - 08:14:34 CDT

Thanks for all the help - replies from:
Andy Kumeda
Robert Wolf
Tom Slezak
Ray Ballisti
Stan Higa
Mike Fletcher
Dave Hightower

A plagiarized summary of Info follows (plus summary of research):

o Primarily there are two sources for Sun Compatible portables, Tadpole Tech
Inc's SPARCbooks and RDI's PowerLites.

o For a configuration of 32MB RAM and 500+MB HD they size up as follows:

* RDI PowerLite * Tadpole's SPARCbook 3 *
* RAM - 32MB (Max 80MB) * RAM - 32MB (max 64MB) *
* HD - 520MB (Max 1.5GB internal) * HD - 520MB (max 520MB internal) *
* Processor - 50MHz microSPARC * Processor - 50MHz microSPARC *
* Monitor - 640X480 8bit color * Monitor - 640X480 8bit color *
* 10.4 " diag. * 9.4" diag. *
* (opt. 1024X768) * - *
* supports ext. monitor * supports ext. monitor *
* Modem/Fax - internal 14.4 std. * Modem/Fax - internal 14.4 std. *
* Weight - 8.5 lbs * Weight - 6.5 lbs *
* OS - Supts. unmod. Sol 1.1.1 & 2.3* OS - Supts. unmod. Sol 1.1.1 & 2.3 *
* Est Cost - $10,295 * Est Cost - $13,700 *
* Comp POC - Boris O'Rourke (RDI) * Comp POC - Jim Beran (Tadpole) *
* 619.558.6958 ext. 126 * 800.232.6656 *

Field Info:
INPUT #1 -

SPARCbook 3 advantages - lighter weight, 2 PCMCIA slots, ISDN Port, Removable
                         hard disk, usually less expensive
            disadvantages - 640X480 internal display only option

Powerlite advantages - 1024X768 optioanl display, large display size,
                         hard disk capacity, parallell port, more max memory
            disadvantages - heavier and more expensive

RDI is a better company to deal with, and the PCMCIA slots seam a bit
redundant since everything you need them for is already built in. ISDN is not
an issue (or so it seams). Had bad experience with previous versions of
Tadpoles using the modified Solaris OS (note that current model has
unmodified OS). Went with RDI.

INPUT #2 -

Have been using an older tadpole. Most people didn't like it, but it seems ok
to me. It's easy to set slip up on it.If you want a SPARC I like tadpole, if
you want a UNIX portable, try a 486 clone with LINUX.

INPUT #3 -

Had a tadpole for field use. Had no problems getting applications running,
but had trouble with the serial port communications. We could not determine
if the machine was defective or there was a design flaw.

Later got an RDI Powerlite for demo purposes. Had some network config
problems, but a phone call took care of that. Had a positive experience with
RDI and went with them.

INPUT #4 -

Had 3 SPARCbook 2's in our group. Engine is OK. However, the following
problems have occured:
     - keyboard - one or more failed after some time (recommend cleaning the
                  key contacts
     - beware of customs problems if you trave internationally with the
       computer. No problem if you carry it as your personal computer.
     - Internal modem works in the US... could experience some problems in
     - recommend an external monitor and keyboard (and mouse) when you are in

       your office.

INPUT #5 -

We had 2 SPARCbook 3's for two months now. Buy a spare internal disk with a
preloaded OS. It will save a lot of time when your /usr FS fails. Ours did
twice (suspect user error). Bought external keyboards and mouses. Much better
than SPARCbook 1's.

INPUT #6 -

Received an input recommending a collection of patches ... I could not tell
if it was the answer to my question or another since there was references to
a Sun 4/670. If that was really meant for this please let me know ??

INPUT #7 -

The SPARCbook 3 is way better than RDI PowerLites. Each release is more solid
than the last, and the SPARCbook 3 is much more stable than the SPARCbook
2.SPRACbook 3's run Solaris (1.1.1 or 2.3) right out of the box.It's very
modular and has lots of room for modification and/or expansion. Their service
is excellent. I have dealt with many vendors throughout the years, but have
never came accross a company such as Tadpole.


A point of interest. Both POC's identified above have agreed to field any
requests for information. Feel free to contact them with any requests.

Jeffrey Schmidt
McDonnell Douglas

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