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Pocket 386

Plasma

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2005
Messages
2,155
I see our Chinese friends are back with another "laptop"...

I don't understand their obsession with IDC plugs which necessitates the use of breakout cables for all the ports. I also have doubts that is really an IPS screen. In all the screenshots it looks like a TN panel with a cheap backlight.
 
Meh. A new 386 laptop. I guess they know reviewers and Youtubers are going to order these immediately.

What's next, a brand new Intel Centrino for $500?
 
I'm kind of hoping that they made this one good enough for the internet retro crowd with using SoCs towards their hand helds to distract them from buying up the old non-production ICs that are better suited towards hobby projects and repair of vintage machines.
 
I guess I'd probably rather have this than either the XT version or their previous "Hand 386" with the goofy-as-heck form factor, but... no, I think I'll be saving my money.

Apparently they must be sitting on a huge pile of these 386SX-equivalent SoCs intended for PC-104 industrial computers, I kind of wish instead of churning out these cruddy laptops they'd slap them on some small motherboards with headers for the onboard ports and three or four ISA slots. (Or, hey, put them on a board with the form-factor of an ISA card that could either be used stand-alone with one of their proprietary piggback VGA cards on it, making for a small SBC that you could incorporate into a custom home-build case, or used to drive a passive ISA backplane with whatever cards you want in it.)
 
$220? For somewhere in the $50-$75 range a system like this might be a fun oddity, but at their current price point? Not a chance.

Sadly, you know people are gonna buy these because they're targeting the same eBay customer base that will happily pay $500 for anything a seller slaps the word "vintage" on...
 
A small portable fast 386 with opl3 sound would be great for old games and cheaper than putting a system together these days.

I kept a few 386 era machines around for games and spare motherboards plus a few CRT monitors for that retro experience.
 
A small portable fast 386 with opl3 sound would be great for old games and cheaper than putting a system together these days.

Sure but I'm not paying premium for crappy plastic enclosure, shoddy LCD and god awful keyboard.
Sell a 386 system-on-board with integrated VGA/OPL3/CF for 100e and a lot of people would be tempted.
 
Sure but I'm not paying premium for crappy plastic enclosure, shoddy LCD and god awful keyboard.
Sell a 386 system-on-board with integrated VGA/OPL3/CF for 100e and a lot of people would be tempted.
Everybody would complain about whatever keyboard, LCD, or video chip was used. The fact is the maker probably used whatever was cheapest to source in the quantities needed to make his profit margin (and if somebody in China can't source something cheaper it doesn't exist).

Sure, if you sell a system that costs $500 to source parts for at a sales price of $150 lots of people would be interested (and still complain about the cost).

I think it's a decent design for $219 in small quantities, but not something I would buy since I have stacks of 386 systems and don't care about portability.
 
Hi All - I bought a couple Book8088 V2s... went through some challenges (LCD controller), added UMBs, joysticks, ethernet, etc. Lots of fun playing with something like my childhood first PC, but pretty much maxed out.

I pulled the trigger on a Pocket 386, and recently received it. I posted this on the Book8088 Mod post, but I'll copy it here -

The keyboard mouse function does not allow drag and drop because you cannot use more than one key at a time. If you exit to DOS from Win95, then type 'exit' to enter Win95 again, the screen does not sync (at least on this system); rebooting will allow normal Win95 operation again. I don't think the correct video driver is installed - I will capture an image of the card and then try alternatives. System is quite a bit smaller than the Book8088, and the keyboard suffers a bit though the keys seem a little better.

Around 10min after this post, I managed to corrupt the Win95 install before I got an image. The vendor (DZT via AliExpress) sent me the .GHO image noted in the included manual, so I'm about to recover it now. I've only played with it for around an hour, but Win95 booted up without issue. Several games were included. More details if requested. I'll start messing around with it. Some photos attached.
 

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I ordered Pocket 386 today via DZT store, but it will be delivered only in the middle of May. I own Book 8088 v2 and I hope it will be a nice addition to DOS line of laptops I have.
 
A few notes for the Pocket386 after a few days (hours) playing with it -

The installed/default driver for the CH375 USB solution is garbage. It seems to only be able to properly interface with a USB flash drive if it is prepared with a floppy image. I could not create a FAT partition that was visible outside of using Rufus to put an .IMG file on the drive. I replaced the default driver with the one from FreddyV (currently 80286 version 0.22) and I can read FAT formatted partitions on a flash drive without issue. The stock driver had other weird issues as well - I highly recommend replacing it.

I had some issues with the stock image, running certain programs that require real-mode. This was easy to resolve by creating Config.sys / Autoexec.bat boot menu system, with a Real-Mode option that omits loading the EMM386/HIMEM drivers. I ran some benchmarks in both modes and Real-Mode was measurably quicker on average. Virtual Reality Playhouse 3D bench is 12.1 FPS in real-mode and 11.2 in protected mode. HWINFO Integer was 7858 Dhrystones/s in protected mode and 8683 in real-mode. Next step is to reduce conventional memory consumption on the real-mode config.

I recovered 5KB of conventional memory, mostly by moving the (replaced) CH375 driver high - Out of the box it was not loaded high. This brings it up to 625KB free conventional instead of 620KB out of the box. I have UMBs (MicroRAM) on my Book8088 and have DOS 6.22 loading with 630KB free, so I'll see if I can reproduce that on the Pocket386, using DOS 7.1, when I have some more time. I wonder if it's worth loading (dual-booting) DOS 6.22.

FAT32 support is a major upgrade over the Book8088. My Pocket386 came with a 2GB CF card. I cloned it over to a 4GB CF card and created an extended DOS partition on the balance of the card - two 2GB partitions which is working great. I've loaded it up with around 600 DOS games so far, without touching the second partition yet. File system efficiency is very noticeably improved with FAT32.

No ability, as far as I've figured out so far, to boot from USB floppy image.

Haven't tried any of the external IO yet, but wish it had a couple built-in game ports (Kraft dual gameport ISA + 2x Gravis GamePads works great on the Book8088!).
 
I ordered mine today, exactly what I was waiting for as the evolution of the book8086 - a 386
Sure I would love a more "retro" case with a mechanical keyboard and floppy drive, a bigger 640x480 screen, would be ultimate, but I see the work this must have been to get this done
a few questions:
1 - anyway to run a usb floppy drive? (that is a must for me)
2 - way to get a bigger battery?
3 - this might be kind of silly but I would love covers for the ISA pins

will keep you posted once the unit arrives and I can play with it a bit
 
I see our Chinese friends are back with another "laptop"...

I don't understand their obsession with IDC plugs which necessitates the use of breakout cables for all the ports. I also have doubts that is really an IPS screen. In all the screenshots it looks like a TN panel with a cheap backlight.
I really dont get who would want to purchase these things. I dont get why anyone would want to buy the "minis" that are all the rage now too.... Its all chineseum garbage.
 
Reliability of newly made designs compared to 30-year-old stuff plus smaller form factor.

This point is pretty steeply undermined by the fact that most of the parts these things are made out of are either 30 year old stock or, more realistically, have been desoldered from thirty year electronic waste.
 
If I recall correctly some of the x86 variants are still made till this day for the industrial SBC
 
If I recall correctly some of the x86 variants are still made till this day for the industrial SBC

The chips used in the Pocket 386 came out in the mid-late 1990’s, and were produced into the 2000’s by DM&P, a Chinese company that’s currently the source for the Vortex86 line. It’s not entirely clear when the SoC in the pocket was discontinued, but companies like UTSource are *only* able to sell used ones.

So, sure. Maybe the chips in your Pocket 386 aren’t 30 years old, they might only be 20. But there’s a decent chance they lived pretty miserable lives.
 
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