OK, so i have been asked that several times, so here's my recommendations for die-hard collectors to make life easier and better:
At first what i recommend you have or should get:
- An old laptop with Windows 98, PCMCIA, CD-ROM and network card
- An SRAM PCMCIA storage card
- A good stock of fresh quality AA-Batteries (Well that one was obvious, eh?)
- A Compact Flash reader (USB or built in, to connect to your main working PC)
- A Compact Flash card or several (I recommend an old 16MB one and a 128MB one)
- A PCMCIA Compact Flash adaptor
OK and here is WHY:
- The old laptop. Should have a PCMCIA slot. In Windows 95/98 you can install (manually) the driver for SRAM cards. That is cool because you simply insert the SRAM cards in it and copy your stuff onto it. Copy and paste. Don't need any proprietary cables and serial connections. Network card and CD-ROM so you can easily get your application and game collections onto the old laptop.
- The SRAM card. By default PCMCIA 1 devices (ALL Tidalwave clones) can only read these out-of-the-box. It might be tempting to get a large cards (There are some Mitsubishi with 4MB and even more out there), but i would recommend 2MB maximum since some palmtops can't handle or format larger cards. Something like 512KB is also OK since you normally only use it to copy the Flash card drivers to the palmtop
- Batteries. Not having any left sucks. Few palmtops come with power supplies, so watch your stock.
- Compact Flash reader. At some point you either have a PCMCIA 2 compliant device or the flash drivers installed. To quickly throw new apps and games on your palmtop it's handy to just directly copy them on a flash card and insert that into your palmtop. If you already have a PCMCIA slot in your laptop that will do as well. However i prefer to download stuff on my main laptop (which is a rather new model) and copy it to the CF card using that USB CF reader.
- Compact Flash card. Compact Flash is much better than Flash PCMCIA cards since they are cheaper and easier to use in your main PC (Which probably doesn't have PCMCIA at all). The older the cards the more compatible they are. Some newer (And very few older) cards simply won't work. Period. They are incompatible and the only way to tell they are is by seeing that your palmtop simply won't use them. The older they are the better the chances they are compatible. For Palmtops with very old DOS, like the Sharp PC-3000/PC-3100 you can't have cards larger than 32MB (Or at least no partition over 32MB) due to the limitations of that DOS. For other palmtops 64 or 128 MB cards usually work. Much larger cards "might" work sometimes, but it's a bit of gambling.
- Compact Flash PCMCIA adaptor. Obviously you need that to put the CF card into the palmtop. Pretty much all of these are the "thick" Type II (5 mm), so they generally don't fit into a Type-I slot. However, some of these adaptors can be significantly slimmed by using sanding paper. It will still be very tight, so maybe try to refrain from doing that on an ultra rare colectible palmtop.
Everything about vintage DOS based Palmtops goes in here...
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