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Reprinted from the January/February 1995 issue of PDA Developers. ©1995-1997 by Creative Digital Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

Hewlett Packard 200LX Palmtop PC

Mark W. Nelson markn@well.com

M S-DOS-based handheld computers have been around for years, but have never really lived up to the anytime, anywhere computing that they profess. Well I am happy to say that the

promise of being able to run thousands of MS-DOS programs, have over 600 KB available to DOS, address up to 80 MB of solid state stor- age (with data compression) and have a great suite of PIM applications has finally been realized in the latest update to the HP Palmtop PC family, the 200LX. As a user of early MS-DOS handhelds like the Poqet and Atari Portfolio, I know that memory constraints, limited DOS compatibility, and poor screens have been a factor in their lack of suc- cess. HP seems determined to avoid this fate. There are those who say that an MS-DOS-based palmtop requires a fairly PC-literate user to operate the system. The 200LX offers a great suite of PIM tools in a graphical, menu-driven environment, all run- ning under a task switcher known as the System Manager. The System Manager allows hot-key access to the built-in applications and a mecha- nism to share information between those programs. Users can interact with this easy-to-use interface and never know that MS-DOS is under- neath it all. Systems integrators can easily develop applications or draw from the huge base of existing MS-DOS applications.

Under the Hood

gray color and is made from a tough, impact-resistant plastic. The 200LX opens like an egg carton, with the screen in the cover and the keyboard in the base. The hinge provides a very tight hold on the cover, allowing you to position the screen at any angle. On the left side of the 200LX is one PCMCIA Type II slot with a slide card-ejector switch. The right side contains a power jack, an RS-232 serial port (with a non- standard mini connector), and a small plastic cover that slides off to reveal the infrared transceiver diodes and a 3 volt lithium backup bat-

tery. The infrared port allows you to connect at up to 115 Kbps to another HP Palmtop, an HP OmniBook, or any other HP-compatible IR device. The serial port requires a special HP cable, but it is complete- ly PC compatible, is addressable as COM1, and can also communicate at up to 115 Kbps. The only other opening on the case is a battery compartment, housing two 1.5 volt AA main batteries. The case opens by pressing a small catch located on the front cover. The screen, located in the top cover, measures approximately 4.81 x 1.88 inches. The screen is a CGA-compatible, FTN liquid crystal display. It has a pixel resolution of 640 by 200 and is capable of displaying text in a

80 column by 25 line mode. The screen (and some of the built-in appli-

cations) support an HP feature known as ZOOM. It is also available to

MS-DOS programs, providing that they run in character mode and not one of the CGA graphic modes. By pressing the Function and space bar keys, it is possible to cycle through three different display modes:

• 80 columns by 25 lines

• 64 columns by 18 lines

• 40 columns by 16 lines

The HP 200LX is a small, rectangular PDA sized 6.3 x 3.4 x 1 inches. This makes it amazingly pocketable. It fits in everything from a suit jacket pocket to the back pocket of a pair of jeans. With the batteries installed the 200LX weighs just 11 ounces. The case is a dark greenish-

The 80 by 25 mode is compatible with a standard CGA text display. The

64 by 18 mode is used by most of the internal software.

CGA text display. The 64 by 18 mode is used by most of the internal software.

PDA DEVELOPERS 3.1 • Jan/Feb 1995

Reprinted from the January/February 1995 issue of PDA Developers. ©1995-1997 by Creative Digital Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

The keyboard has a complete, though tiny, QWERTY layout, with

a separate numeric keypad, 10 function keys, and eight hot-keys to

provide one-button access to the most common built-in applications. The keys have a calculator look and feel to them, giving you tactile feedback when you press them. The shift and function keys are sticky, which means that you get a shifted-key combination by first pressing (and releasing) the shift key, then the regular key. You also have the option of holding both keys down together. The 200LX uses a 7.91 MHz Intel 80C186 CPU, placing it some- where around the old IBM PC XT on the performance scale. It uses an IBM PC-compatible architecture and features 3 MB of ROM and up to 2 MB of RAM. The ROM houses the internal applications, utilities, and MS-DOS 5.0. The RAM is divided between system RAM and a RAM disk, which is user configurable. On a 2 MB system, the maximum memory you can give to the system is 636 KB. The 200LX has some innovative battery and power management features as a result of HP’s many years in the handheld marketplace. It uses two 1.5 volt AA batteries for its main power. HP claims that with alkaline batteries you can get up to six weeks of life. Of course this fluctuates greatly depending on your daily usage of the internal pro- grams, serial port, and PCMCIA cards. I use the palmtop daily and get at least four weeks on alkalines, more with lithium-ion batteries. It automatically turns itself off after a few minutes of non-use. Pressing the On key returns you to where you left off. When plugged into an AC adapter, it stays on until you manually turn it off. The 200LX can use Nickel-Cadmium rechargeable batteries, which can be charged via the AC adapter. There is a battery setting in the Setup utility that lets you choose between Alkalines and Nickel Cadmi- um; for the Ni-Cad setting there is also a checkbox to enable recharging. These battery settings are used by the system to calculate and display a gauge showing available battery life. Another power saving feature is the ability to define whether the serial port should be powered up when you shell out to MS-DOS. If you’re not running a communications program from DOS, this can help in extending battery life. One of the great features of the 200LX is its ability to use high capacity PCMCIA Flash cards. Currently the largest card can store 40 MB. With data compression software you can almost double this to 80 MB, depending on the type of files being stored. This gives the 200LX the ability to use large databases or custom programs. The large storage ability is one of the main reasons I use the palmtop. I have also used the Megahertz Xjack 14.4 fax/modem PCMCIA card in the palmtop, and it works well. The dilemma is that with only one PCMCIA slot, you have to use an external modem if you need to use an application that runs from or writes to a PCMCIA storage card. I do have an external pocket modem that I use to get around this problem, but this also means traveling with a collection of peripherals and cables. 200LX users in the United States also get a nice bonus from HP – Express Exchange Service. They will ship a replacement overnight if your 200LX fails in the first year. You can extend this coverage beyond the initial year for a fee.

System Manager

The System Manager (SM) is the graphical task-switching application

that the 200LX uses to access the internal programs and to shell out to MS-DOS. When you first power on the device, assuming no applica- tions are open, you see the Topcard, a monochrome graphic image, and

a Text box displaying your name and company. You can create your own

image to replace the default. To run an application, you press one of the eight application hot keys or an installed program shortcut-key combination. The SM allows you to have as many open applications and files as you can fit in system RAM. Switching between them is done via a hot key. The SM runs special MS-DOS programs that end with an EXM file extension. These executable files are System Manager-compliant – they behave them- selves as they are switched in and out, plus they can share data across other SM applications. SM programs share a common GUI that features pull-down menus, list views with a summary card showing partial data from the highlighted record, dialog boxes, and context sensitive help screens. The

pull-down menus are accessible from a Menu key and are easily navigat- ed using cursor or accelerator keys. The F1 function key is dedicated to Help, and is always available. SM applications have a search function that lets you look for a character string in any field, including the ex- tended notes field. You can also move chunks of data between SM programs using the clipboard. Another handy feature available in most programs is the Smart- Clip. SmartClip uses the clipboard to copy formatted information quickly from predefined fields in the current application to another location, like a memo or text field. You can, for example, copy several fields from a database application to the Memo application and have the data automatically formatted according to a SmartClip definition that you created and saved. This function is available via a function key in the applications for which it is supported. The 200LX has password protection. You can protect the entire palmtop or individual files. The global protection works in two ways, auto-lock and manual-lock. The auto-lock mode prompts you for a password whenever the 200LX is turned off, times out, or is reset by a hardware system reset. The manual-lock mode requires you to press a key combination to activate the password. The password protection at the file level completely encrypts the file, so viewing it from another application only displays garbage.

Applications

The 200LX has a wide range of built-in applications for the mobile user, including: Appointment Book, PhoneBook, Filer, Memo, Lotus 1-2-3, Pocket Quicken, HP Calc, Email, Communications, Notetaker, a pro- grammable Database, an MS-DOS shell, utilities, and games. The first seven I discuss are activated by specific keys on the keyboard. The remainder can be launched from the Application Manager or user- defined hot-keys.

Appointment Book

The Appointment Book is a well-constructed application that handles the scheduling and displaying of appointments, events (appointments without begin/end times), and ToDo’s. The Daily appointment list (see

times), and ToDo’s. The Daily appointment list (see Figure 1 - The daily appointment list. Figure

Figure 1 - The daily appointment list.

appointment list (see Figure 1 - The daily appointment list. Figure 2 - An Appointment Book

Figure 2 - An Appointment Book record.

appointment list. Figure 2 - An Appointment Book record. Figure 3 - A PhoneBook record. PDA

Figure 3 - A PhoneBook record.

PDA DEVELOPERS 3.1 • Jan/Feb 1995

Reprinted from the January/February 1995 issue of PDA Developers. ©1995-1997 by Creative Digital Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

Figure 1) shows your schedule with the appointment description next to the daily time line. You can set the hour that starts off your day and set the time line interval for the list. You also have the option of having the Daily list show only scheduled appointments, leaving out unsched- uled time blocks. The Appointment Book has several other views. The appointment detail view (see Figure 2) can be customized to a certain extent. There is also a nifty analog clock window that can appear in place of the month- ly calendar. Other views include week, month, and six-month calen- dars, a ToDo list, and an Events-only view. All views support drill-down navigation via the cursor keys – as you travel over the existing view with the cursor keys, if you press the ENTER key the next level of detail appears. In a daily view, appointments and event appear; in a monthly view a day’s details appear. A great feature of the Appointment Book application is the ability to have an appointment run a program or system macro instead of setting off an alarm. You can use this feature to do things like schedule backups to run in the middle of the night or have the Datacomm appli- cation run a script to download email or news files. The 200LX also has a daily reminder popup window that automatically displays the first time you turn the palmtop on every day. This window shows a list view of your appointments, events, and ToDo’s for the day.

PhoneBook

The PhoneBook application (see Figure 3) is actually a predefined database that uses the 200LX’s Database program. In fact, looking under the Help/About Database menu reveals that the PhoneBook, Notetaker, and World Time application are all special instances of the Database application. The PhoneBook application uses database files with the extension PDB. You can create as many PhoneBooks as you have storage space for. You can open the default PHONE.PDB file using the built-in HP Database program and modify the database structure to customize your PhoneBook. If you do this, however, you can’t use the Import function of the HP Connectivity Pack for the PhoneBook. You can rearrange the columns in the list view as well as define the first, second, and third sort fields for the list. There is a Subset function that you can use to display a specified subset of the database. You can have up to 16 named subsets. There is a predefined subset called “All Records” which is used by default. There is also an advanced subset feature that uses what HP calls the Subset Specification Language (SSL). SSL statements use relational and Boolean operators to select records for the subset.

Filer

The Filer application is used to manage all file-related activities; every- thing from formatting PCMCIA cards to backing up data. It supplies all of the standard file manipulation features that you would expect from file managers in this day and age including: directory tree views, split screen views, copy, delete, backup, move, undelete, create directory, and launch MS-DOS programs. The Filer can connect to another 200LX via the infrared port for wireless file transfer. It can also be used to connect to the Filer application in the Connectivity Pack, giving your desktop access to the Palmtop internal RAM disk and PCMCIA card.

Memo

The Memo application is a basic text editor that supports standard text formatting features like bold, underline, different font sizes, automatic word wrap, settings for tabs/margins/display spacing, insert, replace, and outlining features. The memo display includes the cursor position (line and column), making it easy to determine where you are in a file. The font sizes are implemented with the Zoom feature. By pressing Function + space bar you toggle between the different display modes. Under good lighting conditions the 80 by 25 mode is usable, but I prefer the less eye-straining 64 by 18 mode. The Zoom feature is instantaneous and is very easy to change on the fly. Everyone asks what it’s like to type on the 200LX’s small keyboard. Actually, I don’t mind it. I tend to use the two-finger typing approach when the device is on a desk. On the go, I’ve found that holding it in two hands and typing with my thumbs works. It tends to be one of

those things that you put up with to get the functionality that the 200LX provides.

Pocket Quicken

You can give up that spreadsheet you’ve been using to track finances and make way for a full-featured money manager, Pocket Quicken. Based on the tremendously popular Quicken financial tracking applica- tion, Pocket Quicken lets you organize and track income and expenses using a list-based, multiple-account organization. You can:

• enter and edit transactions in checking, savings, credit card, and cash accounts;

• review balances and registers for your accounts;

• reconcile your accounts to the statements you receive;

• share financial data with a desktop version of Quicken; and

• create and print basic reports like business expenses.

Pocket Quicken has two features to speed up transaction entry. Quickfill automatically completes a field once you type enough for it to recognize commonly used character strings. This speeds up entry of Payee, Category, Account, and Transaction Type fields. QuickKeys lets you insert data into selected fields by pressing just one key. For instance, in the Date field, pressing a “T” automatically inserts the current date. Another handy feature is the ability to merge or synchronize data with a desktop version of Quicken using the HP Connectivity Pack. You can enter data into Quicken for Windows and Pocket Quicken on the 200LX, and then use the translate/merge feature of the Connectivity Pack to keep both sets of data files up-to-date.

Lotus 1-2-3

This is a full-featured version of Lotus 1-2-3 Release 2.4 for MS-DOS. It has the ability to run macros, create graphs, create databases, and run some 1-2-3 for MS-DOS add-ins. Lotus 1-2-3 on the 200LX is zoom- able, so you have three view options for displaying data in the cells. This version of 1-2-3 uses WK1 files, so you can create spread- sheets in Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows Release 4, save them as WK1 files and then use them on the 200LX. You can’t use the advanced feature set of the Windows version on the palmtop, but it’s useful to have access to my financial data on the 200LX. HP removed the 1-2-3 chapter from the 200LX manual, though it was in the 100LX manual. They suggest that your neighborhood book- store has a wide range of 1-2-3 manuals for you to choose from. The problem is that the current crop of books really only cover the more advanced desktop versions of 1-2-3. HP claims that they dropped the section from the manual because of user requests. On the positive side, the online help is fairly comprehensive.

HP Calc

As you would expect , the 200LX Financial Calculator is very powerful. The manual devotes nine chapters of the User’s Guide to calculator functions. Here’s a summary of these sections to give you a sense of the calculator’s features:

• General arithmetic

• Business percentages, including markup and margin

• The time value of money and amortization

• Interest rate conversions

• Uneven cash flows

• Currency and other unit conversions

• One and two-variable statistics

• Date calculations

• Solver equations that you can enter and store

• Function graphing

• Calculator customization

You can retire your old financial calculator – HP has tossed in every- thing except the ability to predict the stock market. I frequently use the calculator and even after months of use, am still finding new uses and features for this app.

PDA DEVELOPERS 3.1 • Jan/Feb 1995

Reprinted from the January/February 1995 issue of PDA Developers. ©1995-1997 by Creative Digital Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

Application Manager

The Application Manager (see Figure 4) is the last of the built-in appli- cations accessible from a dedicated one-button hot key. It’s analogous to the Windows’ Program Manager or the MacOS Finder. You can add System Manager and MS-DOS programs to the Application Manager, and specify a shortcut-key combination (for System Manger-compliant applications) and a program icon. The Application Manager default window shows all installed program icons and their status. An applica- tion is open if its icon label is highlighted. This screen is scrollable using the cursor keys. You can run any displayed program by moving to it and pressing the enter key. You can also run programs by typing the underlined letter from the icon’s pro- gram label. This view also shows free system RAM and total available system RAM. The Application Manager also has a List view. The pull-down menu for the Application Manager gives you the ability to close all open applications, which returns you to the Topcard display, or terminate the System Manager. The terminate function quits the System Manager and takes you to an MS-DOS prompt. This gives you the maximum available system memory for running MS-DOS programs. You can also run MS-DOS programs from an icon within the Application Manager, but you may run into memory limitations.

Database

The Database application lets you create your own simple custom databases. While databases can be created on the 200LX, HP has includ- ed the Database application in the Connectivity Pack. It is not too difficult to create databases on the 200LX once you have done it a few times, but it is quite a bit easier to create the database on a desktop computer and transfer it to the 200LX. With the Database application you place various database fields on

a blank record form. Using the cursor keys, you can change the size of

the fields and move them around on the screen. The program supports text, numeric, date and time, note, option (radio cluster), check box, and category field types. A category field is a special, editable drop- down list box. The same category choices (up to 32) are available from all records of the same database. There is a limit of one category field per database. Categories are used to create record subsets. The database definition and data are all stored in one file, typically ending with a GDB extension. There is a limit of one record type per database. The maximum number of records per database is limited by available disk space, but there is a theoretical maximum of about 5,000. There is a limit of 99 fields per database structure, fewer if the fields are

long. A database record can have up to four pages. The search feature allows you find text anywhere in a record. It supports Next/Previous traversing of the displayed subset of records. The records are presented in the standard list format used in the Phone- Book app. All the sorting and subset features that I describe in the PhoneBook section are also available.

World Time

The World Time application is a database of cities plus local times,

telephone prefixes for international access, and map locations with latitude and longitude. You can add cities to the existing list, as well as subset the list. The neatest thing about World Time is pulling up some distant locale, like Tunis, and pressing the Locate button. A world map

is then displayed and cross-hairs identify the selected city. I don’t know

of a practical use for it, but it is kind of fun.

know of a practical use for it, but it is kind of fun. Figure 4 -

Figure 4 - The Application Manager, list view.

MS-DOS

This shells out to command line MS-DOS. Typing Exit and pressing the enter key returns you to the Application Manager. See “MS-DOS: Redis- covering a Lost Art” for more details.

System Macros

The System Macro application lets you create up to 10 macro combina- tions to reduce repetitive key pressing. A macro is run by pressing the Function key followed by Function 1-10. Each macro can contain a maximum of 255 keystrokes. You can go beyond the 255 keystroke limit by chaining macros together.

cc:Mail

This Lotus email client program allows you to create messages and dial- in to a cc:Mail Post Office. This assumes that you have a cc:Mail Post Office on your company LAN. If you do, this is a nice little email utility that is fairly easy to use.

cc:MADE

The cc:Mail Automatic Directory Exchange (ADE) enables you to update your local address book using update files sent to you from your cc:Mail Post Office Administrator.

Datacomm

This communications program allow you to dial-in to various online services using VT100, ANSI, TTY, or MAP (“glass TTY”) terminal emulation. Datacomm supports scripting, so you can create automatic procedures for retrieving email or news files. For file transfer, Data- comm includes XMODEM, YMODEM, ZMODEM, and Kermit sup-

port. The 200LX has a built-in communications port, COM1. This is a complete RS-232 port but with a nonstandard 10-pin connector. The HP Connectivity Pack comes with a serial cable and 4 serial adapters. The serial cable has a 200LX connector on one end and an RS-232 DB9 connector on the other. This is wired as a null-modem cable, so you can plug the DB9 end into your desktop PC and use it with the HP Connec- tivity Pack. The supplied adapters allow you to connect to a modem (DB25 or DB9), a DB25 serial port on a PC for file transfer, or a serial printer. You can also use a PCMCIA Type II fax/modem card with Datacomm.

LapLink Remote Access

This utility puts the 200LX into server mode so you can access the internal ROM and RAM drives as well as a PCMCIA storage card. See “HP Connectivity Pack” for more details.

Stopwatch

This is a one screen stopwatch application with a countdown timer and alarm clock. You may end up using this more than you think. The countdown timer allows you to put some time quantity into the timer field, say 10 minutes, and type in a brief message. Then start the timer and switch to another application. In 10 minutes the timer beeps, switches back to the Stopwatch, and displays your message. Pressing escape clears the message and returns you to the exact place you were before the timer went off. The same concept applies for the alarm clock.

Setup

This utility controls various 200LX system settings. The main screen shows the memory allocation, Printer, COM port power status and power level. The default memory allocation on a 2 MB RAM 200LX is 636 KB allocated to system RAM and 1376 KB allocated to the internal RAM disk (drive C). The 636 KB of system memory is the maximum limit due to constraints of the CPU and MS-DOS. You can decrease this amount, but you may run into problems if you tend to have many applications open at once. Setup also lets you change the memory allocated to the clipboard, static data system RAM, and the MS-DOS system RAM. Other settings available under Setup include volume, screen con- trast, printer, custom communications port address and interrupt, date/

PDA DEVELOPERS 3.1 • Jan/Feb 1995

Reprinted from the January/February 1995 issue of PDA Developers. ©1995-1997 by Creative Digital Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.

time, country settings, MS-DOS Code Page used, 1-2-3 settings, Owner information, and battery settings.

HP Connectivity Pack

The HP Connectivity Pack (part HP F1021B) gives you a 200LX emula- tor for your MS-DOS or Windows desktop PC. It comes with the cables and adapters required to connect to an IBM-compatible serial port. The Connectivity Pack (CP) installs as an MS-DOS program, but creates a Windows program group with predefined PIF’s to enable you to run it under Windows. The CP lets you use most of the PIM software in the 200LX on your desktop. There is also a Translate/Merge utility and LapLink Remote Access. The Filer application lets you connect to the 200LX Filer applica- tion and use a split screen view to copy files between the two computers. For backup, this may be all you need, although there is an automatic backup utility that works in conjunction with LapLink Remote Access where the Filer program on the 200LX goes into server mode and processes requests from your desktop computer. The other programs access copies of data files that were backed up from the 200LX. If you are just starting out entering information from paper records, using the CP to enter data with a full-size keyboard really speeds up the process. The Translate/Merge utility allow you synchro- nize, merge or translate data for the Appointment Book, Phone Book, Database, Note Taker, and Quicken applications. The merge function merges one file into another of the same type, producing one merged file and one unchanged file. It does not dupli- cate identical records, and it flags conflicting records, whose fate you decide. You specify what constitutes a conflict. The synchronize function compares two files of the same type and updates both files by adding and deleting records, producing two iden- tical files. Like merge, it flags conflicting records, allowing you to see and decide what to do about every difference between the files. Again, you specify what constitutes a conflict. The translate function allows you to import and export from a Comma Delimited Format (CDF) file. LapLink Remote Access is a utility that gives all applications on your desktop computer access to the 200LX internal drives and PCMCIA memory card. There are versions for both MS-DOS and Windows. I tested the Windows version and got it to work in no time. A small LapLink TSR (terminate and stay resident) MS-DOS program loads before Windows. It does not connect to the 200LX, just allows the drive mappings to be universal in Windows programs. Then you plug in the HP serial null cable between your 200LX and desktop PC and start Windows. Start the LapLink Remote server on the 200LX. Next, there is a small LapLink Remote Access Windows program that automatically

maps to the 200LX drives upon launch, letting you read from and write to the 200LX drives. You can change the settings of the Windows LapLink driver if the default communications and drive mappings don’t work for you. For my connection LapLink established a 115 Kbps transfer rate. It’s easy to forget that the files I you are working on reside on a palmtop.

Palmtop Support

The HP Palmtop has broad support from users, magazines, online forums, and software developers. HP offers free technical support through its Mobile Computing Customer Support facility located in Corvallis, Oregon. You can contact them at 503.715.2004 or 503.715.5488 (fax). Hours are 5:00 AM to 5:00 PM Pacific time, Mon- day through Friday. You can also get information from the HP Custom- er Support Automated Information Service by calling 800.443.1254 24 hours a day. The HP Palmtop Paper is an excellent source of information on product reviews, tips, news, programming tutorials, and mail-order software. You can contact them at 515.472.6330 or 515.472.1879 (fax). CompuServe has a very active Forum dedicated to HP users and programmers. The libraries in the forum contain a wealth of programs and advice. If you have a CompuServe account, GO HPHAND to get to the forum. CompuServe can be reached at 800.848.8199. On the Internet, the comp.sys.palmtops and comp.sys.handhelds news groups of USENET are frequented by palmtop users. The Nybble BBS has a large library of HP files. The board is free to the public and full access privileges are granted on the first call. The BBS number is 708.304.0666. Finally, HP has an ISV program which is being revised as we go to press. For more details or enrollment information monitor HPHAND. If you don't have access to CompuServe, call the HP customer service number. Don't be surprised if they can't direct you to the right person for a few weeks.

CONCLUSION

The 200LX is a full-featured palmtop computer that includes a powerful set of PIM tools and utilities. This latest version of this palmtop contin- ues the evolutionary path that started with the HP 95LX. If you are looking for a flexible, portable platform capable of processing large amount of data, then the 200LX could be for you. I expect to carry this device around for the foreseeable future because I heavily use the PIM software, and couldn’t function very well without access to all of my databases and custom programs. Ask any HP user what they think of their palmtop and I think you’ll get a positive response – just expect to be occupied for awhile.

MS-DOS: Rediscovering a Lost Art

The HP 200LX contains a version of MS-DOS 5.0 in ROM that is optimized for a palmtop PC. With the system memory limits of 636KB maximum and the file storage constraints of about 1376 KB, it is important to squeeze as much functionality as possible out of MS-DOS device drivers, TSRs, programs, and utilities. Users have discovered all kinds of ways around these restrictions. The most obvious is to add PCMCIA storage, but this is relatively costly. A PCMCIA flash card capable of storing 40MB (up to 80MB with data compression) is currently priced at around $1,500. The solution for most people seems to be a PCMCIA card of at least a few megabytes and a wide array of utilities and optimized MS-DOS configurations. MS-DOS programs must be CGA compatible or run in text mode. In text mode, the HP ZOOM feature is supported, allowing you to change the font size on the fly. The 200LX has a predefined MS-DOS shell accessible from the Filer, the Application Manager, and a shortcut-key combination. This MS-DOS shell acts like a System Manager-compliant program, so you can hot key between it and the other internal applications. The Setup utility allows you to set how much system memo- ry this MS-DOS shell gets. The default is 96KB, but can range from 50KB to 512KB. The more memory allocated to the DOS shell, the less available to share amongst the internal software. The other setting in Setup that affects a DOS session is a checkbox to enables the COM1 port in DOS, required if you are running a communi- cations program. The other way to run an MS-DOS program is to set it up under the Application Manager with custom settings. The Application Manager lets you specify the program location, memory to allocate to the program, and icon (the 200LX includes a utility to create icons). There are also special settings to control the COM port power and whether or not the program automatically exits from DOS. The 200LX contains a CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT located in the root directory of the D drive. The CONFIG.SYS file is used to control system settings and load system extensions. The AUTOEXEC.BAT file is used to automate the startup of programs and control various systems settings. The D drive is a ROM drive, so it cannot be written to. To modify the files, you need to copy the files to the root of the A drive (PCMCIA card) or the C drive (internal RAM disk). From there you can edit them with the Memo program. To use the modified system files you need to reboot the computer. You can do this by pressing the CONTROL, ALT and DELETE keys simultaneously. This warm boots the computer and loads the first CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files that it finds in the root directory of the A, C, or D drives, in that order. After pressing the reboot key combo, you can also press the ALT key to bring up a menu of boot options to select default drives and system file processing.

PDA DEVELOPERS 3.1 • Jan/Feb 1995