OT, but where better to ask?


Where better to ask what is the best replacement for the HP LX machines? Since the early 90's I have used a HP 100LX, a 200LX 1MB and a 200LX 2MB as personal organisers. The hinges on the first two broke and sadly the third is now going the same way. Any LX bought now would be very expensive or well on its way to a similar fate.
Which currently available machine would people recommend as a replacement? The must-have LX features for me are the appointments, phone book, custom database, spreadsheet, note taker and filer applications and the ability to install other programs.
Very grateful for any recommendations.


I replaced my LXs (95->100->200) with a Sharp Zaurus SL-C3200 - amazing little machine (full Linux, built in apps, color, keyboard, 6GB hard drive). There are others in the series that are very similar (SL-C3100, SL-C3000, SL-C860 etc.). All imports from Japan but available here and there, of course on E*ay etc. And you can run HP calc emulators on it! Recommended.


I still have my SL-C860. It was my PDA from 2004 until 2008. Having a color VGA (640x480) Linux machine in my pocket was awesome. I could do so much on it. My HP calc ports can still be obtained from here: http://sense.net/zc/. Click on the x48, nonpareil, and free42 directories. I also ran EMU71 and EMU41 in Bochs. You could probably run an LX emulator in Bochs (my bochs build is also at the aforementioned URL).

Sadly I had to dump it as a PDA. It was a great pocket Linux machine, but a lousy PDA. Syncing was the top issue. I also got tired of hauling around two devices (Phone and PDA). In 2008 I got the iPhone.

My primary uses for my C860 was:

  1. SSH and VNC access to customer machines.
  2. Video and music.
  3. PDA stuff.
  4. HP Calcs.

The iPhone has all of that and many HP calcs too (e,g, 1*C, 41CX, 42S, 48*, 49G).

It was hard not having a keyboard at first, but I adapted.


Here are a few possibilities I can think of at the moment.

Psion 5/5mx - Spreadsheet is pretty weak compared to Lotus 123, and the database application isn't as full-featured, but it's got all the basic functionality, plus a nice, big keyboard. You can sync with Outlook 2007, and even synchronize multiple computers to separate calendar or data/contact files (one of very few PDAs I've seen that can do this). Not as much Epoc software readily available as there is for DOS. The built-in programming language is kind of like QBasic, but notably lacking dynamic allocation without a lot of pointer tricks.

Later model HP Jornada (e.g. 700 series), or NEC Mobilepro - It's Windows CE, which you may or may not have strong feelings for/against. The later versions include Pocket Access, which is pretty stripped down, but still functional. Battery life will be lessened due to the backlight and color screen. Again, Pocket Excel is no Lotus 123.

Old HP OmniBook - You know, the old ones with the little fly-out plastic mouse. It's larger than a 200LX, but still pretty darn small for a laptop. The advantage here is the mountain of DOS/Win3.1/Win95 software you could load on the thing. I believe some (all?) of these included an HP Calc application that's much like the one on the 200LX.

HP OmniGo - Not as impressive as the 200LX, and not nearly as DOS compatible, but they can be found pretty cheaply at times. Runs GEOS, with a touch-screen, and the keys are a little bit bigger. It's been a while since I messed with mine, but I don't think the database application was as good as the 200LX. Compact Flash compatibility is limited, as I recall.


If the 200LX really meets yours needs, then I don't think getting a replacement is really that expensive - just did a check on the bid site and many go for less than $200. Considering that many people pay that much for a new cell phone every year or so, it doesn't seem outrageous to pay that much for something that really does what you want it to do.

Many of the other options have already been mentioned. The Psion, Zarus, Wince machines will all fill the bill. The NEC Moblepro's are some of the best WINCE machines and can be had for very reasonable prices. Nice keyboard and there is a lot of old software that can be found on the net. One thing to remember on all the Wince machines, rechargeable batteries may be next to impossible to come by. Some of the machine did have an accessory to use standard penlight batteries (I think the Nec Mobile pro did).

While large (compared to the 200LX), the HP Omnibook series are fantastic computers and do have a fairly complete version of the HP-Calc and HP-Appt, plus you could load the 200LX connectivity software on it to fully emulate the 200LX.

The best one is the OB-430 which was the last one to still run directly off of penlight batteries. You can use standard Compact Flash cards for a C-Drive and still access two other CF cards as Drives A & B. While normally runs MSDOS and WIN 3.1, I've also have CF Cards loaded with older version of Linux and CPM/86. A really fun machine to play with.

But I still recommend just getting another HP-200LX.



Thanks everyone, just the superbly informative response I was hoping for. Now I must sort out the recommendations.
Mention of Psion by Dave Britten prompts me to mention that I dug out my old Psion LZ64, not seen since it gave way to the LX100. It still works perfectly except that the data packs are unreadable. It's a bit too simple to replace an LX but at least there were no hinges to break.


The Organiser II is a pretty cool machine. There's even a Y2K patch for the CM and XP models floating around. As a handheld calculator, I find it rather lousy, but for programming and expandability, I'd say it definitely gives the 41C a run for its money.

Speaking of durability, you should probably be aware that the Psion 5 is somewhat notorious for having the display ribbon cable fail over time. I don't have any first-hand experience with how long it takes to fail, but it's something you should know ahead of time, and not after!

Another machine I forgot to mention is the Fujitsu Poqet PC Plus. The hardware is similar to the 200LX, but the screen and keyboard are larger (you can likely touch-type), and it features a backlight and two PCMCIA slots. I believe it has DOS 5 in ROM. That's about all it has in ROM, though - no real PIM or office software to speak of. The major drawback is that it uses a proprietary NiCd battery.


I'm still on the original Psion netBook, an EPOC machine, as my main organizer. Its WinCE successor netBook PRO never took over.

As a backup, I have a Psion 5mx, and my 200LX is still alive, too. I've written a program to export the LX contatcs database as a vCard stack which imports easily into the Psion Contacts app. If you're interested, just ask here.


[Apologies to all but P. Hart has left no email address in his profile.]

I have a spare. Email me on bruce at scorecrow dot com

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