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nymetropolitans
May 27th, 2008, 07:13 PM
Can anybody make some suggestions as to what to look for, and where? I've wanted a laptop for a long time now, but I've been after affordably priced PII type machines until I started reading this site (and others). I don't think it'll be any cheaper, but it certainly would be a lot cooler to have a 486 (or 386 maybe?) wirelessly connected at 15Mbits through my cable hookup.

I plan on actually using it like a modern PC, so from what I've read I need at least a 32-bit PCMCIA type-II slot and something that will run Windows 95 (or NT 3.51?) at the bare minimum...this is mainly for compatibility with Firefox or whatever other modern browser will run on something that old. That also means I'll probably need a lot of RAM but that's getting ahead of myself...

Is this pure fantasy or has it been done? It seems like a realistic possiblity...

Trixter
May 27th, 2008, 07:17 PM
A PCMCIA slot and any 802.11b card will work just fine, although you might have to run Windows 98 to get driver.

Yzzerdd
May 27th, 2008, 07:41 PM
It'd be possible with alot...ALOT of extra time on your hands to get a 486 wireless, via PCMCIA. If you only need wireless at home in a relatively fixed location(Depending on cord length) you could install an ethernet card in the PCMCIA slot and connect that to something that makes a regular ethernet cord go wireless. The computer thinks it is on a wire, but is connected to an adapter that is wireless...Minus the power and ethernet cord, anyhow. I've got one of those around, but dont want to have to search for it to get the model number. I can if you really care to know, though.

As for the rest of the the description of what you want. Just what are the requirements for this laptop to do? With that information, I'll be able to realistically tell you what type of laptop you'll need. Otherwise, might as well be shooting in the dark.

--Ryan

nymetropolitans
May 27th, 2008, 08:31 PM
It'd be possible with alot...ALOT of extra time on your hands to get a 486 wireless, via PCMCIA. If you only need wireless at home in a relatively fixed location(Depending on cord length) you could install an ethernet card in the PCMCIA slot and connect that to something that makes a regular ethernet cord go wireless. The computer thinks it is on a wire, but is connected to an adapter that is wireless...Minus the power and ethernet cord, anyhow. I've got one of those around, but dont want to have to search for it to get the model number. I can if you really care to know, though.

As for the rest of the the description of what you want. Just what are the requirements for this laptop to do? With that information, I'll be able to realistically tell you what type of laptop you'll need. Otherwise, might as well be shooting in the dark.

--Ryan

Just basic internet stuff (WWW, email, instant messaging), being able to run some version of Microsoft Office (or similar), play mp3s....nothing too graphic or cpu intensive. I'm assuming you can't get something like YouTube to work on a 486... but it'd be nice.

What are the benefits of the wireless ethernet bridge vs. PCMCIA? Just the fact that you probably can't get drivers for software that old or something else? The ethernet adapter is intriguing for even older equipment since it doesn't require a driver....does the power cord need an A/C power source or can it somehow run off the computer's battery? Thanks for taking the time to deal with my stupid questions! :)

Anonymous Coward
May 27th, 2008, 08:43 PM
I used to have a PCMCIA 802.11b cisco wireless card in my Stinkpad 750. It actually had a DOS driver! I bought the card at a time when practically nobody was running wireless, and I was fooled into believing there were decent access points on university campus. I ended up selling it since I lived in a concrete dormitory and reception was poor. At that time wireless routers were still pretty damn expensive. I think I must have paid a good $200 for that card. You can get them on ebay relatively cheap now, so you might want to check it out.

Trixter
May 27th, 2008, 10:41 PM
Just basic internet stuff (WWW, email, instant messaging), being able to run some version of Microsoft Office (or similar), play mp3s....nothing too graphic or cpu intensive. I'm assuming you can't get something like YouTube to work on a 486... but it'd be nice.

What are the benefits of the wireless ethernet bridge vs. PCMCIA? Just the fact that you probably can't get drivers for software that old or something else? The ethernet adapter is intriguing for even older equipment since it doesn't require a driver....does the power cord need an A/C power source or can it somehow run off the computer's battery? Thanks for taking the time to deal with my stupid questions! :)

The advantage of PCMCIA over a wireless bridge is cost and portability.

Windows 98 will run very nicely on a 486. The only drawback is RAM; I think you'd be very lucky to find a 486 that can take 64MB of RAM (probably tops out at 32MB). You can do all internet stuff using lightweight clients like Opera for the browser.

What is your real goal? Is it to get wireless internet working on a 486 laptop? Or is your real goal just a very very inexpensive laptop you can carry with you to do wireless internet? If the latter, don't waste your time with a 486 laptop and just look for a Pentium or Pentium II laptop.

Anonymous Coward
May 27th, 2008, 11:11 PM
If you insist on having a 486 laptop I highly recommend the IBM Stinkpads. It's relatively easy to get replacement parts for them and you can service them yourself. I like my TP750 because is has a monochrome screen. You might want to consider the TP755 though because they support internal CD-ROM drives (if that's important to you). In order to install software on my TP750 I often use a PCMCIA SCSI adapter to connect with an external SCSI CD-ROM. I believe the TP755 also has a DX4 @ 75MHz versus the 33MHz DX in mine. The TP750 can unofficially be upgraded to 36MB of RAM, I think the TP755 supports at least 40MB. Both use proprietary memory expansion cards which aren't rare but not easy to find either. TP750 has an optional 5x86-133 replacement planar kit. I'm planning to slice off the PQFP chip on my board and do the mod myself when I have a moment.

Stay away from Pentium Stinkpads. They're shit from what I've seen. Lots of electrical issues.

NathanAllan
May 27th, 2008, 11:20 PM
I keep having ideas, but then keep shooting holes in them before I post. I don't think bluetooth would serve you as it's only good for a few feet. I did a quick ebay search for serial wireless and it seems that the prices have gone up, so that's out, too. Cisco pcmcia turned up a few gems, though, nice suggestion, Anonymous.

I had my heart set on using the serial port, though.

Yzzerdd
May 28th, 2008, 04:46 AM
Play MP3s...Surf the basic internet...Instant messenging...

All together, sounds like your looking at a Pentium; that is, if you want something that can do it at a good speed. My Packard Bell Legend 2440 has a 75MHz Pentium 1 processor and does all the stuff you want a laptop to be able to do. Mine isn't a laptop, but they should compare. With Windows 98, MP3s are possible (mine's got 95). Windows 95 suppors Messenger 5.0, IIRC, and even surfs the net great. It gets right up on the forums, displays pages with basic graphics well. Stay away from eBay thoug, those pages take forever. My Packard even has Office 95 on it, all with 64MB RAM. When I upgrade it to 128MB, it'll be even better.

Seems this isn't the "off-topic" area, I feel I should mention this, too. A high-end 486 might get the job done for you, especially if you max out the RAM. Don't be planning to get a 386 unless you like taking all day to load a single webpage.

--Ryan
P.S. My Packard was running Internet Explorer 5.0(or was it 6?) just fine. I believe it can even run on Windows 3.11.

Druid6900
May 28th, 2008, 10:27 AM
I have a couple of TP760s and I don't have any problems with them. I highly recommend them for what you're looking to do.

Mike Chambers
May 28th, 2008, 12:47 PM
if you want to play mp3 files, you are NOT going to be able to use a 386. not a snowball's chance in hell unless you like waiting about twice as long as the length of the song for it to convert to WAV then you play that. :p

browsing the web would be hell on a 386 too. they're just too weak to even handle today's most mundane tasks at anywhere near "acceptable speed". 486 is not going to like playing mp3 files either, unless it's a fast one and you do not plan on any multitasking while it's playing. in fact, you'll probably want to be in DOS mode using a DOS player to make sure you don't get any drop out in the audio.

honestly, you will need at least a pentium 1 and i highly reccommend at least a pentium 2.

Mike Chambers
May 28th, 2008, 12:53 PM
i didn't mean to turn this into a sales pitch, but if you want a good deal on a pretty good laptop i'm selling a 1.6 Ghz Sony VAIO with 512 MB of RAM over in this thread:

http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showthread.php?t=11262

you would be much happier with that rather than pulling your hair out trying to make wifi work in DOS lol. just imagine, you could even play DVDs and divx video if you're bored! :)

Anonymous Coward
May 28th, 2008, 03:56 PM
I think that the DX/4 100 and am5x86-133 are just barely able to play 44khz 128kbit MP3s. You have to keep in mind that 486 laptops pretty much never have any L2 cache either, which would probably knock the performance down a good 25%. I think even a lot of Pentium laptops don't have L2 cache in them either. If you want to play MP3s, then go for a P133 or something.

Anonymous Freak
May 28th, 2008, 06:02 PM
While it's not a PC laptop, I have gotten a circa-1995 PowerBook 190 (Motorola 68040, roughly equivalent to a 486,) up and running on WiFi just fine. And others have gotten the older (in spite of numbering) PowerBook 500-series online just fine. (The 190 series has PCMCIA slots by default, it was an option on the earlier 500 series.) I ran Mac OS 7.6, used a WaveLAN card, and ran iCab 2.9.9 (the last reasonably modern web browser for the "Classic" Mac OS.)

Druid6900
May 28th, 2008, 07:55 PM
Yeah, I have a 190cs and it's a peppy little sucker. I was actually surprised with how well it runs, considering its vintage.

nymetropolitans
May 28th, 2008, 09:29 PM
Playing mp3s is not absolutely necessary, in fact nothing is really, I'd just like to get one for the sake of messing with it. If it gets too tedious to do everyday modern things on, I'll just get another one! :D

I'd like to start amassing another collection of ridiculous ancient computers, I used to enjoy playing around with them but it's been a looong time. I recently set up a small office network for my dad using junky early model P4 Dells and that got me in the mood. I also have some weird fascination with old crap that I've never been able to shake...autism maybe? Who knows...in any case thanks for all the help, I'm definitely gonna try to find a DX4 sounds like it'll fit me the best. I guess I wouldn't sneeze at a P1 either but the novelty of having such an old computer is too appealing!!

MikeS
May 28th, 2008, 09:42 PM
I think that the DX/4 100 and am5x86-133 are just barely able to play 44khz 128kbit MP3s. You have to keep in mind that 486 laptops pretty much never have any L2 cache either, which would probably knock the performance down a good 25%. I think even a lot of Pentium laptops don't have L2 cache in them either. If you want to play MP3s, then go for a P133 or something.
----
Makes you think, comparing power & memory of "serious" machines like those were a few years ago to one of those tiny $20.00 2GB USB-stick MP3 players; guess we'll see someone surfing the 'Web on one of those soon, but the keyboard's gonna be a real PITA...

m

Yzzerdd
May 29th, 2008, 04:51 AM
I also have some weird fascination with old crap that I've never been able to shake...autism maybe? Who knows...in any case thanks for all the help, I'm definitely gonna try to find a DX4 sounds like it'll fit me the best.

Asperger's (http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/) anyone?

--Ryan

NathanAllan
May 30th, 2008, 10:28 AM
Yeah, I have a 190cs and it's a peppy little sucker. I was actually surprised with how well it runs, considering its vintage.

This is making me want to get another 520C and see what it can do. Mine has some kind of memory error, and the picture is messed up. I found one for sale for just under $20 shipped that needs chassis parts which I have and I am seriously tempted by it!

Druid, tell me more about your laptop, even if it's PM'd to me. I can't remember if the 520 has pcmcia slots and it's buried so I can't really get to it. Did you use it wirelessly? If it weren't so difficult I'd start seeing about making an ADB eifi card :) Wouldn't that be a hoot!

Nathan

squirrel-steam
May 30th, 2008, 12:03 PM
If you want a 486 laptop, it will probalby have 16bit PCMCIA, which will not work with a 32bit card, so you will have to hunt for a old pcmcia card, the first 32bit pcmcia came up in late p1's, and mostly on p2's and up. But even my 150mhz p1 compaq presario has 16bit pcmcia, but luckily my friend had an old 16bit 802.11b card with windows 95 drivers. But it didn't have 3.1 drivers, so you might have to upgrade to 95, im pretty sure when 3.1 came out, or even 95 they didn't know that there could ever be high speed internet broadcasted wirelessly.

vwestlife
May 30th, 2008, 02:13 PM
If you're looking for an older laptop that can play MP3s and get on the Internet, I would recommend at least an early Pentium. I have a Toshiba Satellite Pro 410 laptop with a Pentium-90, maxed out to 40 MB RAM, and it does everything I could ask a Windows 98SE computer to do. Its ESS-688 audio sounds good and even works in DOS (MPXPLAY is my favorite). With its original 4X CD-ROM drive, it has just enough CPU power to play Video CDs and MPEG-1 video in real-time at "full motion" quality. I have a PCMCIA Ethernet card for it, but a 16-bit (non-CardBus) wireless card would work as well.

The shadowy, ghosty "dual-scan" passive matrix color LCD isn't that great to look at, but Toshiba also had models with active-matrix LCDs if you can find one. My favorite part is that the AC adapter is built in; all you need is a plain power cord to plug it right into a wall outlet!

If I had to go for a 486 laptop, though, it would definitely be an IBM ThinkPad 701C, with the "butterfly" keyboard. The highest original spec for it was a 486DX/4-75, which isn't too bad and can still be quite useful with appropriate software.

http://www.trustedreviews.com/images/article/inline/4188-IBM701c2.jpg

squirrel-steam
May 30th, 2008, 05:23 PM
that is the most atrochious keyboard on a laptop i have ever seen!

vwestlife
May 30th, 2008, 06:30 PM
that is the most atrochious keyboard on a laptop i have ever seen!
That's only because it's open. When you close the lid, the "butterfly" keyboard folds up so that it doesn't stick out. It was IBM's way of getting a full-sized keyboard on a small notebook computer.

Photo of the keyboard halfway folded:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0a/IBM_ThinkPad_701_Butterfly_05.JPG/787px-IBM_ThinkPad_701_Butterfly_05.JPG

Trixter
May 30th, 2008, 07:10 PM
The Butterfly laptops were a way to get a full-size keyboard on a miniature laptop. In my opinion, the design was simply brilliant (you need to see it open and close to understand).

In very ironic turn of events, my trusty IBM T40 of 4+ years died last night with some sort of motherboard problem :-(

Druid6900
May 30th, 2008, 07:20 PM
Druid, tell me more about your laptop, even if it's PM'd to me. I can't remember if the 520 has pcmcia slots and it's buried so I can't really get to it. Did you use it wirelessly?

Here's the techspecs;

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=112331

and, no, I'm not running it wirelessly at the moment.

vwestlife
May 30th, 2008, 07:50 PM
In very ironic turn of events, my trusty IBM T40 of 4+ years died last night with some sort of motherboard problem :-(
All of my laptop problems have always been due to hard drives. Either I have bad luck or those 2.5" laptop hard drives, no matter what brand, just don't last. IBM, Toshiba, Fujitsu... they've all gone bad on me, either due to accumulating bad sectors, stiction preventing the drive from spinning up unless it's slapped around, or a total head crash (some even use the drive's voice coil to make "police siren" and "bomb dropping" noises if the drive has crashed or has stiction -- which will really freak you out the first time you hear it!).

And if you look up the definition of "slow" in the dictionary, you'll find a picture of my ThinkPad 560 running Windows XP Pro -- on a P166MMX with 80 MB of RAM! :eek:

Trixter
May 31st, 2008, 08:14 AM
All of my laptop problems have always been due to hard drives.

Mine have been motherboard problems, which is what happened to the T40. Hard drive is fine (I got my data off of it last night).

crushinaa
February 27th, 2014, 02:03 AM
I am a bit thick when it comes to games consoles but my kids love them but i need help! what is a wi-fi??? i think its to do with a ds am i right? do i need to have it and what does it do/is it for?? i no some clever people are probhelp laughing at me but am new to this whole games thing.