|HP's allegedly wrong decisions [LONG]|
Message #14 Posted by Valentin Albillo on 4 Sept 2003, 11:40 a.m.,
in response to message #13 by christof (NoVA US)
christof (NoVA US) posted:
"Sharp made a few decisions, also, that I think HP messed up. Onboard rs-232 serial, and mass storage in 'standard' tape formats, for example."
Here's a short list of the 'few' decisions Sharp got rigth and HP got wrong [of course, IMHO]:
- All Sharp handheld BASIC programmables, be they big (PC-1500A) or very small (PC-1262) did include onboard RS-232 serial I/O, plus interfaces to printer and/or 4-color plotter and mass storage (cassette or floppy drive).
In contrast, a handful of HP machines did include serious I/O (and then, proprietary (read expensive) like HP-IL), mass storage or printing. Such powerful models as the HP42S (which really is begging for some I/O) have none. The tiniest, smallest SHARP can be connected to a much larger printer/cassette 'dockstation' right from the box. You can
have hundreds of programs stored in inexpensive audio cassettes or micro-tapes, under remote control.
- All Sharp BASIC programmables feature a BASIC dialect 99.9% upward-compatible among them, such that your programs written for a model can be loaded (from tape !) and run
on others. Automatic conversion of line numbers and incompatible statements is done, and the tape recorded by an earlier model can be read in the newer.
On the other hand, just try to load (by hand) an HP-25C program in an HP-15C, say (with GTO label but no GTO 'line number' unless you do some fancy tricks with the I register), or an HP-15C program in a HP-41C, or an HP-41C program in an HP-28S or ... you get the point.
- Most Sharp BASIC handhelds are metallic (not metallic-painted plastic), very sturdy, quality built, consistently from the older models (PC-1211) to much newer ones (PC-1475). They will stand use and abuse, they have the same good keyboards and great displays, large or small as the machine may be. The theme here is consistent-quality throughout all of them.
HP has such different builts and qualities as Classic models like the HP-67, Woodstock's like the HP-25, then the Voyagers, then the Spice series (were construction quality took a deep dive), then the completely different HP-41C, then the HP-28C/S and its abysmal battery door and compartment, then the HP49 and its rubber keys, etc, etc.
- Sharp BASIC handhelds tend to have large amounts of RAM (for their time), with 4 Kb being a minimum, 16 Kb being typical, and 64 Kb/128 Kb being possible. Apart from the very earliest models, all the rest are quite fast [FOR I=1 TO 100: NEXT I taking between 0.8 sec and less than 0.05 sec], and most are expandable, accepting non-volatile extra RAM cards and even ROM application modules.
On the contrary, most HP handhelds have always been extremely lacking in RAM: 70 bytes for programs/data in the HP-10C, 203 bytes in the HP-16C, 448 bytes in the HP-15C, and about 2.3 Kb in the HP-41CX, even the commercially available HP42S had only 7 Kb at a time were any Sharp machine would come with at least 16 Kb built-in. Only a few HP's have accepted ROM modules or cards, and even HP-41C/71B RAM modules were completely volatile if removed from the machine.
- All Sharp BASIC handhelds but the very earliest have featured an extended version of 'standard' BASIC, including such niceties as two-dimensional arrays, string or numerical, string functions, long variable names, multiple statements per line, powerful I/O functions, and even comprehensive
graphics functions in some models. All models featured the same BASIC plus their particular extensions, be they financial functions, statistic functions, computer science functions, all perfectly integrated: you can compute a sine on a financial model or a logarithm on a computer science model. All of them could be programmed in machine code right from the keyboard, via PEEK, POKE, CALL.
In contrast, HP models featured RPN, which is obviously less high-level than BASIC, in various flavors. Many specialized models lacked general functions (like trigonometrics in financial models or trascendentals in computer science models), all had their particular version of RPN, with GTO-number versus GTO-label, GSB existing or not, indirect operations being allowed or not, whatever.
None of them were programmable in machine code except by using some ridiculously expensive and/or mostly inconvenient external hardware, if at all.
- And last but not least, Sharp handhelds were always much more affordable than HP's, with a much greater quality/price ratio. For instance, the Sharp PC-1211, an HP-41C's contemporary, offered equivalent power, a full QWERTY keyboard, a 24-character dot-matrix display, metallic body, I/O, BASIC, and superior built-quality at 1/3 of the price. Same for the rest.
This list could go on an on, but I think anyone can get the point. This is not meant to be HP-bashing, I love my HPs as much as you do yours, thank you very much, it's only that the next time you boast that HP handhelds are the best in the world, lightyears ahead of the rest, you'd do well to think twice. At least it would save some heavy embarrassment if you happen to find a knowledgeable Sharp user.
Best regards from V.
Edited: 4 Sept 2003, 11:48 a.m.