Philadelphia Area HP Handheld Club Meeting
Wednesday, March 26th, 1997 - Drexel University
Check out HP300/320LX on the Web
In advance of the actual official announcement of the Windows CE handhelds from Hewlett-Packard, they have been producing a fair amount of publicity in the form of press releases and Web page information. The latest feature list appears to be rather detailed, and may be found at hpcc997.external.hp.com:80/handheld/palmtops/product_info/new_prdt1.html. From this list, it looks like the only calculator application built in is the lame one that Microsoft provides in the Windows CE feature set. It seems rather sad that HP would settle for such a calculator, considering that the 200LX contains a feature-rich version with scientific and business applications switchable between RPN or Algebraic logic.
One feature being touted is the addition of a second card slot in the higher-end 320LX. This slot is for Compact Flash cards, originally invented by San Disk. According to the press release at hpcc998.external.hp.com:80/pressrel/mar97/18mar97c.htm, HP will be offering RAM cards in the Compact Flash form factor, ranging from two to ten megabytes. No prices were mentioned yet. For exchanging information between the 320LX and other PCs, a PCMCIA Type-II adapter card is available into which the Compact Flash card may be slid. So, with RAM in the small card slot, what should on do with the full-sized PC card slot? Install a modem, according to HP. A puzzling question is why the modem wasn't either built into the package like Philips' Velo-1 HPC, or offered as an option for its own custom slot, like the Lucky-Goldstar version. These differences will probably allow the user community to decide which of the seven HPC companies have winning combinations. A year from now, one would think that at least a few of the manufacturers will either bow out of the race or upgrade their machines to compete with the front-runners.
HPCC Conference's Official Call for Papers
The HPCC group from London has put out their initial call for papers for their Fifteenth Aniversary Conference to be held this coming September 20th and 21st. Also at the HPCC WWW site is an application form for conference attendance. We're expecting the usual array of conference activities, including talks, presentations and dealer booths. There are no known plans for such a handheld conference to be held in the United States this year, so this may be the only chance for large numbers of HP calculator enthusiasts to meet in the near future. If the HP48G/GX is the final high-end machine in the foreseeable future, perhaps it's the last HP conference for a long while. Although a trickle of rumors of a new HP machine trickle in on the comp.sys.hp48 Usenet newsgroup, it is felt that these are unfounded at this time. Nevertheless, we all hope that our skepticism is proven wrong. Grab the HPCC Conference info at www.hpcc.org/conference.html.
HP Joins the Digital Camera Crowd
It looks like Hewlett-Packard will soon get its feet wet in the newly exploding market of consumer digital still cameras. According to recent trade articles, HP is jumping in with a line of "Photosmart" PC peripherals which include a camera, scanner and printer. The camera, manufactured by Konica, is a 640-by-480 resolution version which takes plug-in Intel-based Miniature Cards, initially in 2-meg and 4-meg flash versions. (More on the camera is found in an Intel press release located at their web site.) The camera is supposed to sell for around $399.00 on the street, which actually is low on the current scale of consumer units which range from around $299 through $2000, depending upon desired features. Still, it is perplexing that manufacturers choose to use plug-in memory cards which are expensive, as opposed to cheaper disk-based memory. Sharp Corporation's prototype camera shown at January's Consumer Electronics Show, based on rewriteable minidiscs appears to be the most promising. Imagine a twelve-buck disk which can not only hold two thousand images, but can be used hundreds of times! This makes 75-dollar 2-meg flash cards (which hold only a few dozen images) look like a big mistake.
Look for ALG48 to Get a Boost
In a recent Usenet News posting, Mika Heiskanen, the co-author of the now-famous ALG48 freeware library (for the HP48) announced an upcoming significant upgrade. Until now, this powerful package could perform high-powered algebra on symbolic expressions (multivariate simplification, factorization of polynomials, etc) plus symbolic vector and matrix operations and math on unlimited-size integers. Soon, it will take a large step forward with the addition of floating-point math with arbitrarily-large precision. A global variable will be used to set the desired number of decimal places, and all math within the library will be performed using this precision. The default number of places will be twenty, with the planned upper limit to be ten thousand. All values will be displayed as strings, similar to large-size integers within ALG48. We all look forward to this new improvement. As has been said before, if HP has no plans to improve the HP48, we count on the user community to do so.
New HP Microprocessor Takes a Big Leap
HP's just-released PA-8500 chip, the latest in the line of "Precision Architecture" RISC workstation chips, looks like it is a huge step forward. Containing 120 million transistors, this chip not only is scheduled to run at more than twice its predecessor's clock rate, but also contains the largest on-board cache RAM ever, at 1.5 megabytes. According to press reports, this is HP's final version prior to migrating to the Intel/HP co-developed Merced chip, also known as IA-64. The Merced is supposedly going to be both x86 and PA-RISC compatible, and introduced late in 1998.
A Couple of Interesting Web Sites
Two recently-found world wide web sites are of interest. First, the PDA Page at www.pdapage.com, lists most of the major handheld manufacturers and where one may find the best prices. Next, check out HP Calculator Classifieds at www.teleport.com/~dgh/ads/ads.htm, where you may buy, sell or swap HP calculator equipment.
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