Re: [pc110] performance/usability issues

Vaughan Pratt (pratt nospam at
Tue, 17 Mar 1998 07:47:30 -0800

>>1) How does it perform running linux
>Real work, like using gcc, seems to go about 8 times as fast on a 166MHz
>linux box

About right. A kernel compile that takes 4 minutes on my 300MHz P-II
takes about an hour on my PC110.

>2) How is the keyboard?
>It's ok if you put the pc110 down and use two hands, assuming you haven't
>got stubby fingers, but the same applies (to a lesser extent) to almost any
>portable computer that I've tried.

It's just slightly harder to use than the HP200, because the keys are
closer together somewhat increasing the rate at which you hit adjacent
keys by mistake. I get 30 wpm, vs. 60 on a regular keyboard. But those
are far from ergonomic wpm's. What I do about this is to include a
Seijin keyboard in my luggage for use in the hotel room but not when
walking around during the day. Slightly bigger than the little Newton
keyboard (which is the most beautiful thing about the Newton imo),
with standard key spacing, weighs about a pound, plugs in the back if
you have the cable otherwise into the port expander. Similar to the
small IBM keyboard that people have been mentioning.

>>3) How is the pointing device? It looks awkward to move from typing to using
>>the pointer thing and back again.
>It's better, imho, than the one on the big Thinkpads, because you can use
>it if you've picked it up, and it's quite comfortable if you hold the box
>in two hands. The pointer on the libretto seems a bit strange to me, with a
>big furry nipple by the screen and the buttons on the outside of the lid.

I must have been unlucky then. I find the pointer on both of my 110's
is *much* harder to use than either my Libretto's or my Thinkpad
560's (the latter is particularly easy to use). Plugging in a mouse
(a miniature mouse *can* be carried around during the day but the cable
plus splitter adds bulk) saves the day here.

>4) Does anyone have any comparisons to the libretto? The pc110 is cheaper,
>but it's also a 486.

The libretto has a bigger brighter screen, bigger keyboard, more ram
(32 vs 20), more disk (1.6 Gb or whatever vs 340MB or maybe 540MB if
you can find them), an available PCMCIA slot (the 340MB disk uses up
the 110's PCMCIA), and double or more the speed depending on model.

On the other hand if you squeeze your OS into a compact flash on the
110 as I do, this frees up two PCMCIA slots which you can use with e.g.
a Type III cellular modem like Sierra Wireless or the GlobeWave (I'm
trying out the latter right now, so far I've never seen it connect to
a modem at better than 4800 baud and frequently drops the connection.)

Both fit in my trouser pocket (not together :) but with an unfashionable
bulge. However while the 110 slides right in, it is struggle to get the
Libretto in (but not out), I have to indecently put my hand down into
my pants and hold the pocket so it can slide in without getting caught.
Sizewise the main difference is length and the Libretto comes just to
the top of a typical pants pocket, the 110 has a bit more room to spare.
The Libretto weighs more and so drags the pocket down more.

Vaughan Pratt