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View Full Version : Hardware review: NEC Starlet (8401A)



Terry Yager
November 15th, 2004, 02:32 PM
Well, I was going to write a nice review of the NEC Starlet, but I found a very good write-up on-line already:

http://www.atarimagazines.com/creative/v11n3/70_NEC_8401A_Portable_Comput.php

The only thing I should point out is that my unit (PC-8401A-LS) has a larger screen than the one described in the article above (3 1/8" x 9 5/8"). Also, it doesn't quite match the picture at old-computers.com, which depicts one with the smaller screen size:

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=350

Just something to keep in mind if you're in the market for one (or two).

--T

vic user
November 16th, 2004, 05:02 AM
It looks like they kept the shell for the NEC version of the model 200, for this computer?

chris

Terry Yager
November 16th, 2004, 11:19 AM
Actually, it bears very little resemblance to the 200. It is somewhat larger and heavier, and the screen dimmensions are different. (I don't have a 200 here for a side-by-side comparison, so I'm working from memory). The biggest resemblance is the menu program, which is very similar. The Starlet, however, doesn't use the full screen for the menu. The screen is divided between the menu (8 lines) and an area for CP/M commands. There doesn't seem to be any way to turn off the menu manually but when you run WordStar it goes away, allowing WS access to the full 16 lines. Mostly, the menu just gets in the way, if you're used to running CP/M from a command line.
Really tho, a better comparison would be to compare it to the Epson PX-8, both of which are CP/M-based laptops. The Geneva also has a built-in menu program, but it allows the option of turning it off and running a straight CLI instead. Both machines have 64K of main memory, but they use it very differently. The PX-8 is more flexible in that it allows the user to adjust the amount of memory available for program execution and program storage. On the Starlet, it's locked in to two banks of 32K each, one for storage and one for execution, which somewhat limits the programs which will run on it. (Anybody know where I can get a BASIC interpreter smaller than 32K?)
Of the two, I greatly prefer the Epson, with it's optional 120K ramdisk module. It's just a more capable machine in a package the same size & weight, despite the smaller screen. For now, the Starlet will remain a novelty, rather than a useful machine, unlike the Geneva, which sees daily use.

--T

vic user
November 17th, 2004, 11:38 AM
I wonder why i got thinking it had a similar or the same shell as the nec model 200? maybe because of where the arrow keys are.

i wish you had pics online of all your portables Terry!

chris