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Re: Obtaining a laptop or portable computer to run Linux

At 09:06 AM 5/6/98 +1000, you wrote:
>portable computer and a speech synthesizer. What kind of portable or
>laptop computer would you recommend for use with Linux?

That question is highly dependent on personal preference.  I use a Gateway
Solo 2300 together with a docking station.  Linux supports all of the
hardware on this machine.

You, of course, need a machine that meets the suggested hardware
requirements to run Linux.  This info is in the FAQ and the Hardware HowTo.
 I believe that this is something like a 386 with 4MB of RAM and an 80MB
drive.  Obviously, you'll want more than this setup.  As with all computer
work, though, you'll need to decide where to stop :].

Another resource that you might check is the Linux on Portables page (don't
have the URL right now....you should do a net search for it).  It lists
many different models of portables and gives any special information that
is important to know when using them to run Linux.

>Would the DECTALK
>PC 2 fit into a portable system, or would the DECTALK Express be a better
>choice? Are there any organisations which sell DECTALK synthesizers at
>good prices and which would be willing to export to Australia?

The Express is probably your best bet, although there is some support for
lower cost synthesizers such as the DoubleTalk-LT.  I'm not sure how well
they work with Linux-GNU access software such as Emacspeak.  I'd encourage
purchasing the DecTalk Express if you can afford it.  The Express connects
to a serial port, while Synths such as the DecTalk-PC series are expantion
boards.  Although some luggables used to support one or two of these, I
haven't seen any newer laptops that continue to do this. 

I'm afraid that I can't provide info about overseas shipments (I've never
had to concern myself with them), but you should shop around when
purchasing the DecTalk.  Many places (such as many vendors of screen
readers) are selling the Express for the full $1195.  Many mail order
places, including where I purchased mine, sell them for under $1,000.

I purchased mine from Office Systems for the Physically and Visually
Impaired (800-253-4391).  A friend purchased one from them a few months ago
for $956.  I suggest that you give them a try.

>Also, I would prefer, if possible, to obtain a machine which could be
>updated in the future by replacing the main board, installing a new hard
>disk, etc. Given a network card, I could also connect it directly into the
>university's network.

Many systems support removeable hard drives (that can easily be
upgraded/replaced), as well as adding features (Network support, modem,
etc) through PCMCIA cards.  Still, when you purchase a laptop, you are
limiting your upgrade options.  The processor can not often be easily
upgraded, and when such a thing is possible, you'll probably need to track
down your local tech-geek to do the rigging for you, as many laptop vendors
don't even bother with this.


Bryan R. Smart
E-Mail: bsmart pobox com
Phone: (843) 953-2721, (843) 953-2571

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