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View Full Version : Hardware Review: Epson PX-8



Terry Yager
July 1st, 2004, 09:31 PM
Following on the heels of it's wildly successful first portable, the HX-20,
Epson, in 1983, introduced another portable, the PX-8, also called Geneva. This new road
wariror featured a larger screen, more memory, and an industry-standard
Operating System, CP/M.
Despite it's using some of the same peripherals as the HX-20, the Geneva was
not intended to be a big brother to the HX-20, but rather a whole different
family of computer, and a companion to thier CP/M desktop machine, the QX-10.
The output of it's built-in micro-cassette drive is not compatible with
tapes produced by the HX-20, however, BASIC programs written for the HX-20
can be used with the PX-8 with little or no modification, as the version of
Epson/MicroSoft BASIC shipped with the Geneva is very similar to HX-20 BASIC.
Like it's predecessor, the PX-8 utilizes a multiple-CPU design, with
processing duties being shared among the two main processors, a 4MHz Z80 & a
Hitachi 6301 @ 614KHz, and a 4-bit 7508 sub-CPU, which handles much of the
I/O work. This arrangement, combined with ROM-based software and RAMdisk storage, makes for very
fast program execution.
Hardware-wise, the Geneva comes equipped with 64Kb of ram, the built-in 80
col. x 8 line LCD display, as well as a Micro-Cassette drive for
mass-storage. External ports include 2 x serial ports, an A/D I/O port, a bar-code reader port, and and a jack for external speakers.
An expansion connector, located on the back, gives the hardware access to a
number of optional expansion options, including a direct-dial modem,
RAMdisks, a combination unit with both RAMdisk and modem, and a unique
breadboard based expansion option which allows the user to roll-your-own
hardware add-on. The expansion units come in wedge-shaped housings which
mount to the bottom side of the PX-8, and serve the dual purpose of propping
up the back side of the unit to a more comfortable angle for viewing and for
typing on it's very good full-sized keyboard.
If you're into CP/M, or just retro-computing in general, your collection
should include at least one CP/M portable, and the PX-8 is a good candidate
as they are probably the easiest to lay your hands on today. Bondwell B2s,
NEC Starlets and the ever-elusive Jonos Escort are extremly rare these days.
The good news is that brand-new (and refurb) PX-8s can still be found on the
Internet today. A new one can be picked up for around $130.00, and spare
parts for your old ones are also available. Check here for new PX-8's & parts:

http://www.notebooksupplies.com/epson/px8.html

--T

Update, 9/11/06: It appears that Star Technology has lowered the price on new units, and they still have plenty in stock.

--T