No Frills Laptop

Posted on 2000-04-23
Last Modified: 2013-11-17
Wife is a writer and looking for a simple Laptop with a Word PerfectProgram
and an A-drive. When camping she can write and put on disk and use that disk on the home computer. No Internet access. Just writing to a floppy disk.  Able to hook up to a Marine battery for extended use. Does such a thing exist? Lloyd
Question by:LLOYDV
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Any second-hand laptop should suit your needs. Until the screen went on the fritz I had a Compaq 486/33 laptop: 250Mb HDD, 20Mb RAM, monochrome 640x480 display. This was more than adequate for simple wordprocessing, and you should be able to pick up a machine of this spec second-hand for maybe £300 ($500?).
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by:Lee W, MVP
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if you take pjknibbs advice and want to get the second hand laptop you get one for as little as $200 from (though if you're not in the US, I don't know if they'll ship it to you...)
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RoadWarrior earned 100 total points
Comment Utility is offering on their specials page .....

NOTEBOOK Computer deal! (HURRY theses are almost gone!)

  Dell 486 100 mhz , 20 meg, 810 meg HD $209.87 (LIMITED STOCK !)
  Dell Pent 90 , 20 meg, 810 meg HD $269.87 (LIMITED STOCK !)
  NEC Versa, P75, 16 meg, 800 Meg Hard drive $299.50ea.

at something a little speedier and IBM solid ...

For connection to a marine battery, you need to specify that you need a vehicle adapter, (ask the sellers above, they don't list it) this will have a cigar lighter plug on it, you can either buy a set of clips with a socket on to connect this to a battery, or you can just snip it off and connect a couple of clips/clamps yourself, or wire it to fit whatever electrical arrangements you have. Note that the notebook may have no notice of impending power failure when connected to a DC source like this, when the battery is run down. Depending on the notebook, it may or may not be able to recharge it's internal batteries off the vehicle adapter.

For use with ANY notebook, there are units called "power inverters" these connect to a DC supply, like a vehicle or marine battery, and convert the 12-14V DC to 115V AC which is standard "wall socket" voltage, and will enable any wall socket adapter to be used. One of these might be a bit of a liability when camping, since then you suddenly decide to bring along the TV, Microwave, etc, and your battery gets flat in a day or twe :-)

Choosing a power inverter , you should buy one that is capable of supplying enough current to run the appliance you are connecting to it. Most notebooks should only need a 100W inverter, not a lot else would run off this, apart from a Radio or small TV. They have the advantage of being fairly cheap for this power output, and should cost under $150. Large power output models cost frightening prices, due to the heavy duty components and and cooling required.

Walmart stocks some of these power inverters I beleive. There also exists a combination unit with, booster cables, battery and a small power inverter, these have a handy carry hard case, so can be lugged around for portable power, and can be used to jump start flat autos etc. one of these looks very useful for all seasons, they cost a bit more than a simple inverter, but imagine trying to move around the battery, inverter and wires as seperate units, (I guess if you were handy you could build a little cart) if say, you wanted to take the notebook down to a lake shore to work. Sears may have something like this too.

Oh, Word perfect suites 7 and 8 for windows 95 are given away free with a lot of hardware and may be available for just a few dollars from many computer hardware retailers (i.e. under $20) so ask when you buy your hardware if you can get a deal with this, don't be shy.

If you look for a notebook with a vehicle adapter you will probably end up buying something rather more recent and costly, probably around the $1200+ mark, buying something cheaper and older for 2-300 and getting a power inverter for up to 250 will thus save you money, may be generally more useful, and may cause you a deal less nervousness about leaving the thing in the Camper/tent etc, and taking it on a trek or whatever.

Tip, the 486-100 notebook above will probably drink less power (as much as 50% less) than the Pentium notebooks listed above in the netseller listing, for 80% of the performance. So if endurance is an issue, and you are not going to be dissapointed by lack of use beyond a bit of typing, 486 notebooks better than 486/66 and 16mb Ram, and 540 Hdd are worth looking at.


Road Warrior
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Oh, 486 laptops will be hard to find with a CD drive, so you may need an external one to install recent software, Win 95 is almost impossible to obtain on floppy any more. If you have desktop with a CD rom this will not be a problem if you get a system with win95 pre-installed, then you can get a "laplink" cable and use the direct cable connection facility in win 95 to install software from the CD drive on the desktop.
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Roadwarrior: I just used LapLink to copy the entire contents of the Win9x installation CD onto the internal hard drive in my laptop--if I could manage that on a 250Mb drive, it should be easy on 810Mb!

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Maybe you can contact this EE user, she appears to have what you are looking for, and I am sure you can both come to an arrangement.

This question is in the PAQ list of this topic area if you wanted to read it. But, basically, the info on the laptop is below, and me thinks that she would be happy to sell it.

Just a thought.



From: duchess1
Title: "Storage of PC"

Date: Thursday, April 20 2000 - 11:16AM PDT

i have a 4 year old Compaq Laptop P133 48MB RAM with 1.1 GIG HD. built in modem CD-ROM and Floppy drive, dual scan. i turn it on maybe every month or two to see if it still works. it is not in regular use, just a back-up ? what is the groups opinion on this, is it harmful. also should i sell it now and take what i can get. it is good for WP and ISP but not much else because of tiny HD. need opinions

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Another place to check for low cost laptops is:

Which is where IBM sells their equipment that has previously been leased.  The least expensive one listed today is $535, which may be a bit more than you had in mind but it has a nice 12 inch active display, probably much better than anything you'll find on a 486 based laptop.  IBM also warrantys them for various amounts, usually 90 days.

I've seen laptops there for as little as $250, but it depends on what lease is up and they happen to have in stock.  Inventory changes from week to week...

You'd have to get an adapter to use your marine battery, but IBM makes just about every accessory you can imagine.

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Appreciate the advise and it was very informative and complete. Must tell ya when we camp--that is what we do- no frills on that either. No TV,-No Microwave, just fishing and observing what the out-of-doors has to offer. So the battery would be just for the Laptop. Thanks again. Lloyd PHC USN(ret)

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