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Documenting obscure 90s laptop brands - WinBook

DeltaDon

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3lectric, you're doing a great job of uncovering details on these laptops. Great Quality was a Fry's Electronics brand. I have a later version of the "500" series that has a bog slow Transmeta CPU and I think it's also a Great Quality brand. I'd have to dig it out of the basement to be sure and I can't remember the model number.

OBTW, for a period of time Walmart sold some "Green" laptops under the "Balance" brand name. I think they were the 733 and a maybe a couple other models (all Pentium 4's, I believe)

A rare and powerful for it's time was the 736 which was the final version of the 730, 731, 732 case design. The 736 has could use faster Prescott HT 533MHz ?? CPU's and many also had oversized LCD's with speakers mounted on hidges to the right and left of the LCD. They folded down when the lid was closed. I saw a few labeled as "HoneyBee" brand. They had a habit of popping the main fuse which had never been inccresed from 2A from the early 730 model even as the CPU's took more and more power. I replaced them with 3A or 4A's.

The Green was dropped from the model names after ECS took over AlphaTop or whatever merger/ buyout happened in Taiwan. I believe AlphaTop started out as part of Maxtech based upon some service data I once had. Somebody else needed it more than I did, or as I like to say no good deed goes unpunished.
 

3lectr1c

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3lectric, you're doing a great job of uncovering details on these laptops.
Thanks! Your orphanlaptops site certainly helped out a lot with that I have to say.
According to the page on your old site, Alpha-Top was part of GVC and was bought out in 2001, then ECS must have kept using the Green moniker for a few more years after that.
I'm very interested in seeing that 500 series laptop with the Transmeta CPU. I've just gone through the ECS site looking for it but none of the 500 laptops say they have one. If it's great quality than maybe the Frys page listed it, I'll go have a closer look there.

Someone on Vogons has a 736, unfortunately not one with the large screen and speakers. Their one does somewhat work but the GPU has cracked solder joints and it crashes all the time. The standard one looks the same as the earlier ones, except the 733 of course.

I do have a note on the fuse issue on my J4 pages: https://macdat.net/pc/winbook/j4_home.html

I've been working on the site over the past few days as usual. Mostly pages on some misc. laptops, but my main next task is documenting Alpha-Top and ECS Green laptops. After the green series, I'll probably go on to the later ECS laptops.
And while on that topic - @DeltaDon - do you have any photos of the G753 laptops I could use? I am planning on getting one of your NOS ones sometime soon, but I don't have the spare funds at the moment.
 

3lectr1c

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And lastly - on the topic of the WinBook project, my WinBook FX arrived (the reason I can't currently afford one of your G753s haha) and is all set up. I've updated the pages for it already with a good amount of additional info & photos that will go out with the next site update.
open_booting.jpg
 

zerocool

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Thank you for sharing so much useful information! That is so cool, this is the type of stuff I read about all day long. Yea the brand of the laptop uses keywords that definitely throw off the eBay algorithim I tried searching. My IDE to mSata should be here tomorrow. I will put this Great quality laptop head to head with my Compaq N600C as they are both out at the moment. Going to have the same hard drives. The Compaq has a P3 866Mhz cpu and an ATI Mobility Radeon in it.

Basically these were frys electronics laptops I guess right.

There is something about this era 98-2001 where the power of laptops really shifted.

I agree as far as them being "generic" making very little maybe even no difference especialy since people upgraded and added memory better hard drives, do these motherboards have replaceable cpus I assume they do back then everything did, before the monopolistic glue days they are forcing upon us now, or trying to force upon us!
 

3lectr1c

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Digging out information on these things is what I enjoy :)
I've got plenty of pages on my website to go through if you enjoy reading this stuff.

The 558 will beat out the N600c easily. Your 558 is from probably around 2003/4/5 and the Pentium M in it will outclass the Pentium III by a good margin. The interesting fight will probably be the GPUs, assuming the 558 is using chipset graphics.

CPU is probably socketed (my X4's is), most laptops were back in the day, unless they were subnotebooks. Or Apple, but that's no surprise.
Glue era is why I daily drive a modded ThinkPad T430 still :) :)

I had an N610c a while back that I eventually sold. It's the same case as the N600c but with a Pentium 4M. Bad, bad idea Compaq, that thing got SO HOT. Yes, I redid the thermal paste, yes I cleaned the fan, no it did not make any difference. They also put the hard drive right next to the CPU, and both running so close made it so that the hard drive overheated. Bad design, but probably much more practical with a Pentium III. I liked that thing, I'll probably try to find an N600c at some point.
Also makes a great example of why brand-name isn't always better. My WinBook X4 keeps its P4M cool.
 

zerocool

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Please do! Use the photos however you’d like. Thanks for the extra info I’m gonna dive in and do some research. Glad I found this forum I am an IT engineer and an avid collector of computers 1990+ nice to meet you!
btw did you notice that little cut out on the bottom left in the battery bay??
 

zerocool

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Digging out information on these things is what I enjoy :)
I've got plenty of pages on my website to go through if you enjoy reading this stuff.

The 558 will beat out the N600c easily. Your 558 is from probably around 2003/4/5 and the Pentium M in it will outclass the Pentium III by a good margin. The interesting fight will probably be the GPUs, assuming the 558 is using chipset graphics.

CPU is probably socketed (my X4's is), most laptops were back in the day, unless they were subnotebooks. Or Apple, but that's no surprise.
Glue era is why I daily drive a modded ThinkPad T430 still :) :)

I had an N610c a while back that I eventually sold. It's the same case as the N600c but with a Pentium 4M. Bad, bad idea Compaq, that thing got SO HOT. Yes, I redid the thermal paste, yes I cleaned the fan, no it did not make any difference. They also put the hard drive right next to the CPU, and both running so close made it so that the hard drive overheated. Bad design, but probably much more practical with a Pentium III. I liked that thing, I'll probably try to find an N600c at some point.
Also makes a great example of why brand-name isn't always better. My WinBook X4 keeps its P4M cool.
While I was running Max Payne I had this old sysfan program I found on archive.org running there is only a sensor on the hard drive by it ws 46 celisus at idle. The fan did surpisingly took a while to start blowing out war air but I do live in the midwest and I am in my Garage, which is heated but I had it pretty chilly for the laptops sake.

This N600C arrived in 10/10 condition honestly I could not beleive it, even the usb ports had that crisp connection feeling, it will go on the shelf soon for who knows how long. Next after these 2 is my Gateway 450sx4, had that back in 2005 was my second laptop ever got another one about a year ago, original power adapter on the way very particular adapter. P4 in that thing, I remember plugging it into the LAN at school and playing Counter-Strike.

Also, I use an IBM power adapter for the Great Quality laptop, I assume the winbooks all used that same barrel connector?
 

3lectr1c

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Yeah it’s really low-wear. Unfortunately, the left hinge is snapped. The actual metal broke, just my luck. I got a partial refund from the seller as that wasn’t mentioned at all in the listing. That aside though, it’s in great shape. Also had to reflow the sound chip to get sound working on it. It’s stopped working again so I guess I didn’t get it good enough.
They’re standard socket 7 inside. Unfortunately they use proprietary RAM, ack!
 

DeltaDon

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OBTW, I hope to soon post a beginning of a comparison with photos of the NEC Ready 220T, the Micron VLX and the Green 755 laptops. All are the same basic laptop under the skin. I have a large stack of broken ones (all 3) plus a few spare parts. One thing I don't have, that I think once existed, is a cable to connect the floppy module to the parallel port when using a CD drive in the single drive bay.

Also, when I started to pull out the Green 753's to ship I uncovered a stack of NOS sealed Micron labeled port replicators that I believe fix the Green 755 laptops. If not, they should fit the VLX Plus (AKA Green 756, NEC Ready 330T) -- or maybe they fit both models? Still working on that. Then there's the Green 760 (I think) & Green 790 (Again I think) sold as the Micron Trek II and improved Trek II. Also NEC Ready 440T which I've never seen myself. I didn't have a lot of time to research these before I closed my business.

I will also take a couple of photos of the Green 753 ASAP.
 

3lectr1c

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You have G755 laptops that haven't fallen apart yet? From all I've heard that's pretty rare. Bad plastic even when you wrote about them 15 years ago...
You've got info on most of the AlphaTop laptops on your old site, I actually have a bunch of tabs open now as I'm working on transferring info to my site.

I have a parallel to floppy cable for the Dell C Series Latitudes, I'll bet the pinout is different though between brands.

On a side note - where did you actually see the AlphaTop name? I haven't been able to find any documentation including the name anywhere. FCC registration goes straight back to GVC.
 
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3lectr1c

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Also, I use an IBM power adapter for the Great Quality laptop, I assume the winbooks all used that same barrel connector?
I think most used the same. My XL's charger doesn't fit my X4 or my FX, but they are both barrel jacks and should be easy to find. I use a universal PSU on my X4, and both my FX and XL came with the OEM chargers so I just use those there.
The major exception is the original 486SLC/SX/DX WinBooks which were made by Jetta. They use a hard to find 4-pin DIN PSU.
 

DeltaDon

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The Alpha-Top name appears on the few Green laptop service manuals I still possess. I will take a photo and post later.

I have several dozen Green 755's/Micron/NEC's that I acquired as broken service inventory when I bought up the off warranty service stock from the service center. Since they weren't NOS or working I mostly filed them away at the time. I also have some Green 756's which are an updated Green 755 more or less. Plus some other misc. laptops in bunch. I have one or maybe two (???) Green 751's. I also have a working Green 735, a Green 795 and some others. Plus a few Micron Trek and Trek 2's.
 

3lectr1c

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I'm currently most interested in seeing what the G751 looks like, and if it's a match for the Jetbook 6100. Also could use photos of all mentioned except the 755 and 795, as you had a photo of those up already on orphanlaptops.

Also - is it Alpha-Top or AlphaTop?
 

DeltaDon

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I stand corrected on the fact that Alphatop was part of GVC vs. my earlier statement of Maxtech. It's been too many years since I was knee deep in working on these on a daily basis.

On a side note I poured the remains of a Micron VLX out of its shipping box last night. I picked it up on Fleabay for very few bucks with the hopes of using it for parts. It was in sad condition in the auction photos, but not beyond having useful parts. However, when it arrived, it appears to have been recycled by being run over by a truck. Nothing larger than a few square inches of plastic pieces and I didn't even attempt to see if the LCD was on one piece. Not even worth the time to check. It seemed to be packed okay, so all I can guess is that it was dropped prior to packing. So I've requested a refund. Sad.

Photo's of the G751, G753, G753+ and manuals will be taken once I've cleaned up the area of the remaining debris left beyond by the VLX.
 

3lectr1c

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Yowch. That's a shame. If the listing I found from looking is the one you got, given the condition of the plastics already, it's not too unlikely that the plastic was just genuinely THAT bad. I've not run into it myself, but I've heard plenty of horror stories of plastic that literally cracks to the touch. Probably was shipping that did it rather than a drop if it was that bad. I'll bet that box just got unlucky and happened to be abused more in shipping than they usually are, while also being exceptionally fragile.
 

3lectr1c

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Did it have padding? I don't see any there. That would certainly explain the damage...
I am curious if the screen is intact though. 90s laptop panels can often be in demand due to high failures. Other parts *could* still be ok. I'd at least check if the motherboard is in one piece.

Jesus though. That poor, poor laptop.
 

DeltaDon

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I stopped touching it when I filed the refund request - didn't know what I'd be asked. So I didn't explore too deeply into the remaining main chunk. However, I just received word that I've been refunded my full purchase price - minus shipping by eBay. Haven't heard from the seller. I'll guess due to the low cost that they won't want it back. The plastics as shown in the auction might have been able to be repairable with epoxy and fiberglass strands, but there's nothing left to anything plastic. So I'll be stripping it down to see if anything is worth using now. I had hoped to use the front plastic panel that holds the track pad along with LCD, motherboard and hopefully the keyboard would have all been usable. There's also main battery that I'll see if I can get to take a charge, but mostly likely not. So I'm typing this and then heading off to salvage what I can and to take a few more photo's.

OBTW, I've squirreled away some 11.3" to 15" LCD's plus a very few smaller ones. I did get a lot NOS 12's and 13's from buying out the Chicony spare parts that turned out to now be useful for "Green" repairs. Plus the Chicony spares were mostly for their last few models (MP995 and MP993) and won't work with even their older stuff. Some LCD's I bought just because they were offered to me cheap when I ran my business. Not a lot that I could a use for repairing Green brand laptops.
 
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