Are duos really that bad?

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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I'd like to get a little duo 250 or something like that, but I haven't heard anything good about them. Are they really that bad? My main concern is if it's possible to connect ethernet to it and connect to internet at the library (which has T1 line.). I know you can have a modem in a duo, so that's no problem.
I was also considering the pb 520, but it seems a little too expensive. I'm looking at under $60.

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g3head's picture
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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Early PPC

First off, used laptops are almost always a PITA. Often they're flaky, have a dead battery, or some other problems. I can't say anything about the Duo line but Once you have a nice setup they're supposed to be great little systems if you're just writing and other lightweight types of work. There's also a huge collection of duo modders kicking around. For ethernet I think you need to have n ethernet dock. PCMCIA or internal expansion won't work

I've got 2 or 3 5x0s and I love them, beautiful cases and enough power to do basic work. I even lucked into buying one with a PPC processor and a good battery. The down side is that they are a bit of a cult classic, and the later upgrades (PPC, Card Cages, etc) go for amazingly high prices. Still you can occasionally find a good deal on one.

Personally I think the other good option for a lowend 'book is an early PPC. I've got a 5300 and love it. I've been lugging it around for a few months now and it takes the beatings. It also dosen't look horrible. They still have occasional problems but for the most aprt I think the road apple status they got at their release is mostly uncalled for. they've also got a couple PCMCIA slots for WiFi, ethernet, video, flash memory cards, etc. A 1400 is mostly the same.

Still putting more than $50 for any of those 'books is going to be too much. I mean you can get a refurb ibook 12"/700MHz/256/20/combo/AP for under $700

Cruller's picture
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Joined: Dec 19 2003
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.

They actually are quite nice machines. They're really small and... well, small. Then there's the accuracy of a trackball, not to mention the extreme hackability. I had a 210 (25MHz 030, 8 or 16MB RAM, 80MB HDD) back in the day and it was really a great thing to have.
That said, it won't take too much abuse, the keyboard is a real bugger to type with any speed on, and the batteries can be very testy, it's nearly impossible to get into if you're going any farther than removing the keyboard, and it won't take all that much RAM (you need all you can get for internet use).
As for ethernet, I'm not fully sure but I think you can get an ethernet adapter for a the Mac serial port (one of which the Duo has).

If I were you, though, I'd go for the 520.

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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Well maybe I could get both.

Well maybe I could get both. If I like the duo, I could upgrade or something like that. I see duos on ebay for +-$25, so it wouldn't be a big loss if I bought one, and batteries are about $10. I would just use it for programming in PERL and doing text based internet (all the pictures usually annoy me anyway).

Where can you get serial-to-ethernet connectors? What about the passive matrix screen? Does that suck?

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jt
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Active matrix Grayscale LCDs . . .

. . . ROCK!!!!!!!!!

The passive matrix LCDs are OK too, but go for a 250 or a 280 with the active matrix grayscale LCD, I've always wanted one so I could see the freakin' LCD outdoors, all the other LCDs have problems with legibility in sunlight. I finally got a bare 250 for $25 and I love it. I'll be using it to test the hackage detailed below and then give it to my lil' brother so he can run an old version of Word on it for writing on his train commute into Boston.

I've never had a 5xx, so I don't know about them, but Duos are awesome if you use them with software from the era and aren't afraid of re-celling a battery.

jt Wink

*over the top mode(tm)*

If you're into hacking, you can probably get an Asante MICRO EN/SC SCSI->10basetT/Thinnet NIC that''ll work fine with a 68k Duo for a very reasonable price as they're (ostensibly) incompatable with PPC 'Books.

Untested (but really promising) hack proposal: cut all the Thinnet crap off the board along with the RJ-45 socket, LEDs and power jack! There's a large "L" shaped section of the PCB that can be lopped off if you move something like 4 discrete components and then it SHOULD fit into the useless Duo modem bay.

A (hard wired to the PCB contacts at the last known IC connection of the missing PCB pad) panel mount RJ-45 will fit just fine in the (slightly) enlarged RJ-11's location. There's already a header on the board for daisy-chaining to the HDD connector. The power leads go straight to the ADB connections on the Docking Connector (a well documented hack) which is no biggie. and the LEDs (or funky colored equivalents) get hardwired and transferred to holes drilled in the top deck so they're sitting in plain sight for the "OOH! AHH!" factor in the library.

I think that about covers it, I'll go post this gobbledegook in the hacks section now, there are already high resolution pics of the EN/SC and EN/SC 10T PCBs up in the album in the "Misc Peripherals &" thread.

*/over the top mode(tm)*

p.s. sorry about the tangential noooodge . . . gotta get the .txt out when it's flowin' freely!

***** please don't reply to this post, I'll likely need to edit a cr@pload of typos.

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dankephoto's picture
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Duos are sweet PowerBooks . . .

I love the Duo form-factor! It's the perfect travel/commuting 'puter. I heartily agree with jt that the active grayscale screens are terrific. They are _so_ crisp and clear it astounds me everytime I use one.

My best fave in my entire (extensive!) PB collection is a 2300 with a 250 active gray screen, 56mb ram and a 20GB HD. Shame about having no built-in enet, but as jt keeps mentioning a Micro EN/SC will fit inside. Now if I could put a WiFi card in there, it would be _perfect_!!

Best of series are the 250 (68030), 280 (68LC040) and 2300 (PPC.) 250s and 280s can be had for practically just the shipping cost, but their scsi HDs are small and harder to source than ATA drives as can be used in the PPC 2300.

An 68K Duo advantage is the smaller amount of RAM needed for useful operation, 68k code needing generally half what PPC apps use. Large Duo RAM modules aren't easy to find and are pricey. A 20mb 68K Duo is entirely adaquate, not so for the PPC 2300 which really needs at least 36mbs and is happiest maxed out to 56mb.

*cough*DuoKeyboardsReallySuckTho*cough* Tongue

Dan K

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jt
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Duo KBDS . . .

. . . REALLY DO! But wegenermedia.com's got 'em for 99¢ ea. and ten should arrive with some other goodies tomorrow!

Maybe ONE, will work OK, otherwise a plate of sheet aluminum hacked under there like the 1400 KBD couldn't hurt any . . . or replacing the bottom layer of the KBD with a custom PCB, FRP's nice and stiff . . .

jt Evil Block Company

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aladds's picture
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520s are really cool! I had o

520s are really cool! I had one GIVEN to me & although it's only got 16 greys, a 160mb HD and a really short battery life (fixable, if you have the courage to dismantle a battery; go to my website & then to my old website) and it can (theoretically) run posix via the mac06 program, i use it mainly for games & stuff, but then i bought a second hand tangerine iBook for schoolwork etc.

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270c's Are Nice Duos

If you're looking into getting yourself a Duo, a 270c is a nice choice. I had one given to me a few months ago, and it is a nice little laptop. It's a 33Mhz 030 with a 68882 FPU (IIRC the only 68k Duo to come with an FPU). The screen will do 640*480 @ 256 colours or 640*400 in thousands of colours. The keyboards are rather stiff, and the hard drives are rather tiny (mine came with 250mb IIRC), but they are nice machines. Mine has 12MB RAM and has no qualms at all about running OS 7.6.1. The only problem I have is that the dock *only* has PowerBook SCSI, which can be a major PITA, because I can't find a cable to go between PB SCSI and the regular 25 pin SCSI that's on the machine. Other than that, it's a nice machine.

The Czar

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jt
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DuoDementia . . .

DuoDock Hack: Standard SCSI Connector!

Hacking an internal IDC50 SCSI ribbon cable-> DB25 (PC) slot cover adapter to the NuBus backplane might be easier if you're not using two cards yet, but having a righteous 50 pin Centronics SCSI connector available on the side over the floppy exit (which I kept clear back when I did this) for changing connections on shared peripherals was VERY handy.

jt Wink

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