IBM WorkPad z50 Handheld PC

by Reads (7,767)

I admit it. I love my new IBM z50 WorkPad. It’s a writer’s dream. Lightweight. Great keyboard. Instant on.

But the more I used my z50 the more it reminded me of the past. So I found the key to my Storage unit, unlocked it, and dug around for awhile.

And there it was, like an old friend. My Hewlett Packard OmniBook 425.

I laid them next to each another. The z50 WorkPad and the OmniBook 425.

Twin sons of different mothers.

I purchased the OmniBook back in the spring of 1994, hoping to write my first great American novel with it. I never did, though no fault of the OmniBook.

It had a 9 inch monchrome screen (a 640×480 VGA LCD with 16 shades of gray) with no backlighting. And it had a meager 25 megahertz Intel 486 CPU running Microsoft Windows 3.1, a 10 megabyte system card, and an 80 megabyte hard disk. Incredible at the time. Unimpressive now.

But it also had some groundbreaking features. Low weight and no wait, as HP proclaimed. The OmniBook weighted in under 3 pounds and it had that instant-on ability that Windows CE has since adopted. And there was the unique pop-out mouse, like no other before or since.

It recharged in 90 minutes and lasted up to 8 hours on battery power. And it came with serial, parallel, infrared, and communications ports, and a list of standard applications, including Microsoft Word and Excel. Plus, it included Laplink for sharing data with your desktop PC.

But it was the keyboard that was impressive, and reminds me a lot of today’s z50. Nearly full-sized with an incredibly smooth yet crisp feel.

And now the IBM z50 WorkPad, like a younger brother one-upping his older sibling, has replaced the OmniBook in our minds.

The z50 has a 131 megahertz processor, 16 megabytes of RAM, and a much better color LCD. And it’s got a funny little red Trackpoint mouse.

Beyond that it’s a lot like the OmniBook. Lightweight. Great keyboard. Instant on.

So it only stands to reason that one day my z50 will join my OmniBook in the computer museum. But until then, I’ll enjoy it and cherish it.

Just as I enjoyed and cherished it’s older brother.

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