Recommendations for mobile platform for programming...

doggiedocdoggiedoc Posts: 2,008
Hello fellow Parallaxians!

I want to purchase a laptop or otherwise mobile computing platform for programming the propeller and basic stamp.

I will need pbasic, spin, C, and BlocklyProp.

What are you guys using?

Thanks in advance!

Paul
Some times my mind seems to wander..... these days I just tag along.
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  • 31 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • MS Surface Pro 4.
  • Dell Inspiron 7000 series.
    In science there is no authority. There is only experiment.
    Life is unpredictable. Eat dessert first.
  • Budget? Priorities? Anything else you'll be doing with it? Do you have a preferred operating system (Windows, Linux, Chrome OS)? You can program the Prop with almost anything, from a $100 used Chromebook and up.

    Do you need a long battery life? How important is weight - are you willing to pay for thin? Touch screen? Do you need a fast machine capable of running heavy-weight IDEs like Eclipse and CLion, or will you be sticking to lighter-weight applications command line, The Prop Tool, and SimpleIDE?

    Do you want to replace your laptop every 2-4 years, or would you rather spend the extra money for a resilient hardware that won't fall apart after 8 years of abuse?



    And, I'm personally a YUGE fan of my HP Spectre 13 x360. I have the first gen - they're current on second gen - and have had mine for a year and a half. It has been everything I was looking for, including dual booting the original Windows OS and Ubuntu Linux.
    David
    PropWare: C++ HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) for PropGCC; Robust build system using CMake; Integrated Simple Library, libpropeller, and libPropelleruino (Arduino port); Instructions for Eclipse and JetBrain's CLion; Example projects; Doxygen documentation
    CI Server: http://david.zemon.name:8111/?guest=1
  • I have been doing this for many years.

    Right out of the gate, the easy path is to get a laptop you do not mind carrying. Make sure it has all the ports you need, and where possible, upgrade it's battery and or carry a spare.

    Most boards can draw enough power from the laptop to be useful.

    Get whatever OS you feel good about. Win.x is a solid choice these days. Make sure this choice is about you making progress. Linux, Mac OS, Win all have pros and cons. I enjoyed Mac OS the least because ports and because funky driver games. Was a great experience otherwise.

    Old Net Books actually rule! I have an ASUS clam shell thing running Win 7 Starter that I love! Did not think I would, but it ended uo making a ton of sense. I made it a purpose built machine and ALL it does is host my Propeller tool chain, and a few spiffy utilities, like Sublime Text, Paint.net, audacity, Inkscape...

    The Atom processor is slow, but does Propeller dev work just fine.

    What I love most is the size and it being one purpose, and ports. That machine is literally zero hassle.

    Whatever you get, make sure you hit that sweet spot. No hassles. Super important for going mobile.

    My current kit includes:

    Android phone, with bluetooth trackpad keyboard.

    Asus Netbook

    Simple video capture via USB. Spare, big battery.

    Propeller dev board of the day.

    Spares. Prop chip, regulators, other bits needed in a pinch.

    Prop Plug

    Offline set of docs.

    Cables and spares.

    Breadboard. (My Pro Board got munched. I miss it, and want Prop 2 version asap.)

    One day, I can totally see using my Note 8 as a dev box. It is more than powerful enough. Right now, it is largely a terminal / console when I want one.

    I use the big battery to power the board, and at times, the Netbook. Video capture is for a Prop display. One pin drivers make doing this super easy.

    Often, I will hook two prop plugs up, one is console, the other programming. PUTTY is my terminal of choice.

    I set the Netbook to hibernate on lid close. Almost always fires up without a hitch, right where I left it.

    A few other goodies:

    Powered USB hub.

    Universal USB card reader. One little guy does everything.

    Micro SD to full SD adapter. And one that works the other way around.

    Old school, small SD cards, 2, 4GB style. Always work on pretty much everything.

    USB Host adapter for phone. Android will support tons of stuff! I have used that capability to do stuff like make a floppy disk, USB serial, keyboard, other things.

    Cases and containers. Worth gold. Get good ones.

    Hair tie things work amazing to keep stuff closed, bundle cables. Got women in your life? Great! You got those things too.

    Patch cables, HDMI, DVI, Display Port, old school analog. Use what you find when you arrive.

    Mini-tool set. Multi-meter. I want a tiny scope, but so far have not needed one.

    All of what I put here fits into a shoulder bag. Easy peasy.

    You cannot carry all that stuff on the plane, if you will be on a plane. I use the containers to check most of it, carry the high value things, and Lithium batteries, because the law requires we do that in the US.

    On arrival recombulate, and you are good to go. (Minnessota Airport actually has a recombulate area sign, and I have been itching to use that word.)




    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>
  • I buy and recommend used Panasonic Toughbooks from eBay.

    Tough as nails. Expensive when new but not used because they are not slim/sleek. Panasonic don't cut corners with these things...All kinds of ports, my CF18s have swivel/fold-down screens and the touchscreens work surprisingly well with Windows. They are only Centrino though. If I need i5 power and large screen, I use my CF52.
    PropBASIC ROCKS!
  • I'm interested in this too, something to carry to the field with the very same Parallax tools that Paul mentioned, and for other lightweight stuff like email or photo sorting while traveling. It should be as thin and lightweight as possible, probably a 10 inch. There was this other thread I've had bookmarked. new-cheap-windows-tablet/. One of the current crop that sounds pretty nice is the
    ASUS 10.1” Transformer Mini T103HA-D4-GR. (10.3"x6.8"x0.6", 1.9#, 128Gb SSD, 4Gb ram, quadCore Atom, Win 10) Anyone with experience with that or similar?
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,009
    edited October 1 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I'm a fan of the original IBM ThinkPad line. I have three, all of which I bought used. They have the "stick" for cursor movement, which I prefer over a touchpad. They're not thin and light, but they are well-built. And I didn't pay more than $99 for any of them.

    By today's standards, they're pretty clunky, but for Prop dev, you don't need speed (unless Blockly is a cycle hog -- dunno). My oldest one is running Win98, since some never-upgraded software I need doesn't have device drivers for anything newer.

    Take a look at ThinkPad Depot. It looks like all they carry now are the Lenovo ThinkPads, but prices still seem pretty reasonable. (IBM sold the ThinkPad trademark to Lenovo several years ago.)

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • doggiedocdoggiedoc Posts: 2,008
    edited October 2 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Thanks for all the input:

    @DavidZemon - I don't expect to be running any heavyweight IDEs - mostly Propeller Tool, Basic Stamp Tool, SimpleIDE and such.

    @potatohead - Nice list! I've pigeon-holed some of those pointers.

    @Mickster - I've seen those Toughbooks - my local PD had them.

    @Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) - I might like that "joystick" button on those.



    One thought - Do they still put DB9 Serial ports on laptops? I've got a lot of old Basic Stamp Boards I might want to dust off.

    Paul
    Some times my mind seems to wander..... these days I just tag along.
  • doggiedoc wrote: »
    One thought - Do they still put DB9 Serial ports on laptops? ..

    I must have had a memory lapse - I forgot that Parallax has designed a USB to Serial (RS-232) adapter so no need for DB9!
    Some times my mind seems to wander..... these days I just tag along.
  • I have DB9 on all of my Toughbooks. Still occasionally work in DOS with a serial link.
    PropBASIC ROCKS!
  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 9,354
    edited October 2 Vote Up0Vote Down
    doggiedoc wrote: »
    doggiedoc wrote: »
    One thought - Do they still put DB9 Serial ports on laptops? ..

    I must have had a memory lapse - I forgot that Parallax has designed a USB to Serial (RS-232) adapter so no need for DB9!

    I got a USB to serial in my bag too. It is some no name thing, but it works great.

    Re: Newer Net Book like computers

    I have toyed with a couple of these. IMHO, they are a bit more expensive than the Win 7 ones, but they are a bit better too.

    The thing about those, and tablets, is all about hassles and getting stuff done. They will not be performers, but that rarely matters. Coding, using apps to make docs, or process content, does not take much of a machine. What I will do is strip the machine down, install an SSD (not really necessary on new machines with one soldered in), load the apps I need and just drill down to the minimums. This tends to maximize RAM, and minimize hassles. When I am done, I log in, and stay that way for a very long time. Win 10 is a bit harder to do this with, but the machines are just good enough to not worry so much too.

    If it were me, I would go for ports, battery capacity, storage. All those machines have a 1560 x whatever display. It will be just good enough. Go small fonts. Lose desktop goodies, etc.

    The rest will work reasonably, and unless you are hard core, it will do just fine.

    I have also run big stuff mobile. Thinkpads all the wsy baby! My tank machine hits 3.5Ghz and has dual SSDs, great display. Unless I am working with big CAD and or data, I no longer carry it.

    Oh, one other thing!

    Get the right cable for your phone. It can be storage and with the right software, a window on your desktop. I use mine this way. Takes a bit of learning, but worth it IMHO.

    My phone is more powerful than the netbook I carry for this stuff. Sometimes I just go ahead and do the work on a phone. With a cable and software, the keyboard and touchpad on the netbook drive the phone just fine.

    I have been thinking about a Win 7 VM on this phone. Could actually work OK. Maybe next year, I will get crazy and try it.

    Bye forum. Hope to see all you peeps on the other side.



    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>
  • doggiedocdoggiedoc Posts: 2,008
    edited October 2 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @DavidZemon
    DavidZemon wrote: »
    Budget? Priorities?
    - I meant to circle back to your questions before:
    - no budget per say (yet) but I will keep it reasonable for a hobby. Priorities are for fun - no deadlines or customers to keep happy.
    Do you have a preferred operating system (Windows, Linux, Chrome OS)?
    - I've been an Apple guy since my first computer which was an Apple IIc in 1984. My day-to-day routine is on MacOS. I even transitioned my database and file servers at work from SCO Unix to Mac OS X. But I do know my way around Windows and Linux enough to get by.
    Do you need a long battery life?
    This may not be too important, as most of the use will be within reach of an outlet (the couch, by the pool, in bed).
    How important is weight - are you willing to pay for thin? Touch screen?
    Not too heavy, but thin not necessary. Touch screen - not so much.
    Do you want to replace your laptop every 2-4 years, or would you rather spend the extra money for a resilient hardware that won't fall apart after 8 years of abuse?
    I like things to be of a quality that will last.


    Some times my mind seems to wander..... these days I just tag along.
  • Mickster wrote: »
    I have DB9 on all of my Toughbooks. Still occasionally work in DOS with a serial link.
    You weren't kidding about expensive for new!
    Some times my mind seems to wander..... these days I just tag along.
  • @potatohead
    Thinkpads all the wsy baby! My tank machine hits 3.5Ghz and has dual SSDs, great display.
    sounds like a beast!
    Some times my mind seems to wander..... these days I just tag along.
  • doggiedoc wrote: »
    Mickster wrote: »
    I have DB9 on all of my Toughbooks. Still occasionally work in DOS with a serial link.
    You weren't kidding about expensive for new!

    I think that you are supposed to be able to drive a car over these things.. I wouldn't try it but these things just ooze quality; rubber flaps over the ports, lockable metal doors for the battery and HD. Spill proof keyboard, etc. Not sure about mine but some even have a heater built-in to the HD carrier. If the temp is low enough, the heater kicks in before spinning up the drive. I believe the shell is magnesium or something.
    PropBASIC ROCKS!
  • @Mickster - I wonder if they are bullet proof? LOL
    Some times my mind seems to wander..... these days I just tag along.
  • doggiedoc wrote: »
    @Mickster - I wonder if they are bullet proof? LOL

    Meh, that's nothing..these things have survived my missus who has this uncanny ability to break pretty much anything she touches :lol:
    PropBASIC ROCKS!
  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 9,354
    edited October 2 Vote Up0Vote Down
    doggiedoc wrote: »
    @potatohead
    Thinkpads all the wsy baby! My tank machine hits 3.5Ghz and has dual SSDs, great display.
    sounds like a beast!

    That thing will slowly warm a cold room when put into max performance mode. Yeah, beastie.

    It is a hot running W420, with a fast i7, front side bus, and pile of RAM. Weighs a ton too.

    It has not had the Intel updates. The point of that machine is speed. I will just be careful with it.



    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>
  • doggiedoc wrote: »
    @DavidZemon
    DavidZemon wrote: »
    Budget? Priorities?
    - I meant to circle back to your questions before:
    - no budget per say (yet) but I will keep it reasonable for a hobby. Priorities are for fun - no deadlines or customers to keep happy.
    Do you have a preferred operating system (Windows, Linux, Chrome OS)?
    - I've been an Apple guy since my first computer which was an Apple IIc in 1984. My day-to-day routine is on MacOS. I even transitioned my database and file servers at work from SCO Unix to Mac OS X. But I do know my way around Windows and Linux enough to get by.
    Do you need a long battery life?
    This may not be too important, as most of the use will be within reach of an outlet (the couch, by the pool, in bed).
    How important is weight - are you willing to pay for thin? Touch screen?
    Not too heavy, but thin not necessary. Touch screen - not so much.
    Do you want to replace your laptop every 2-4 years, or would you rather spend the extra money for a resilient hardware that won't fall apart after 8 years of abuse?
    I like things to be of a quality that will last.


    In that case, it definitely sounds like you want to go for the 14" version (or similar) of one of the business-class laptops. The "Toughbooks" sound like a reasonable idea, though I'm not personally familiar with them. I've had two HP EliteBooks, one an 8530w and another 8460p. You read the model number like so: first digit = the line, second digit is screen size - 10, third digit is generation, and the letter is w or p, with w indicating dedicated graphics cards. Both of those laptops lasted me many years and shows no signs of dying at all when I sold them. I did install aftermarket batteries in each at year 3. I picked up the 8460p when it was one year old and only paid $250. It was May of '13 when I bought it and it had a 128 GB SSD, 4 GB of RAM, and a 2.5 GHz Core i5 (dual-core + hyperthreading). Insane performance for the price, especially considering its robust build. The bottom cover comes off without any tools and it's very easy to replace SSD/HDD, optical drive, RAM, fan, and even the CPU and/or heatsink. I even replaced the display on the 8460p with a higher-res version and it wasn't even too hard!

    Here ya go, here's a $190 8470p with a 3rd-gen i5. Basically just like mine but a year newer. Only has a spinning disk though... no SSD. I'd definitely recommend buying an SSD no matter what you get. https://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-LAPTOP-ELITEBOOK-8470p-i5-2-6GHz-4GB-LED-DVD-WEBCAM-WINDOWS-10-WIN-WiFi-PC-HD/161595077745?epid=901257168&hash=item259fd13471
    David
    PropWare: C++ HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) for PropGCC; Robust build system using CMake; Integrated Simple Library, libpropeller, and libPropelleruino (Arduino port); Instructions for Eclipse and JetBrain's CLion; Example projects; Doxygen documentation
    CI Server: http://david.zemon.name:8111/?guest=1
  • David
    PropWare: C++ HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) for PropGCC; Robust build system using CMake; Integrated Simple Library, libpropeller, and libPropelleruino (Arduino port); Instructions for Eclipse and JetBrain's CLion; Example projects; Doxygen documentation
    CI Server: http://david.zemon.name:8111/?guest=1
  • Well I went looking for a link and Best Buy doesn't seem to sell my favorite tablet any more. I have three of them, two for work and one I am using to post this. It's Windows 10, 11 inch 1080p display, docking keyboard much more practical than the Surface kickstand, couple of regular USB ports, uSD socket which is key to moving documents and pictures and stuff off the limited 32Gb flash c: drive. They were around $200, so much cheaper than even the cheapest Surfaces much less the Pros which actually might have matched the display. Oh, and these silly cheap things can drive an external 4K HDMI monitor at full rez, unlike the $600 desktop I bought when I got the 4K TV set at work and for which I had to spend $75 more for a video card. I will truly be sad if they really aren't available any more.
  • localroger wrote: »
    Well I went looking for a link and Best Buy doesn't seem to sell my favorite tablet any more. I have three of them, two for work and one I am using to post this. It's Windows 10, 11 inch 1080p display, docking keyboard much more practical than the Surface kickstand, couple of regular USB ports, uSD socket which is key to moving documents and pictures and stuff off the limited 32Gb flash c: drive. They were around $200, so much cheaper than even the cheapest Surfaces much less the Pros which actually might have matched the display. Oh, and these silly cheap things can drive an external 4K HDMI monitor at full rez, unlike the $600 desktop I bought when I got the 4K TV set at work and for which I had to spend $75 more for a video card. I will truly be sad if they really aren't available any more.

    What brand? Sounds pretty cool. That 32 GB drive is limiting though :(
    David
    PropWare: C++ HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) for PropGCC; Robust build system using CMake; Integrated Simple Library, libpropeller, and libPropelleruino (Arduino port); Instructions for Eclipse and JetBrain's CLion; Example projects; Doxygen documentation
    CI Server: http://david.zemon.name:8111/?guest=1
  • Thanks for all of the input! I found a used Dell Latitude E7450 at a local shop I know. It has a 2.3GHz i5 with 8G ram and 256G SSD.


    Loading IDE tools on it now.


    Paul
    Some times my mind seems to wander..... these days I just tag along.
  • The tablet I was talking about is branded Insignia -- it's Best Buy's house brand. The 32Gb C: drive isn't a problem on these little tablets and netbooks because Windows 10 has a provision to move your documents, pictures, music, and so on to separate storage. It takes some jiggering but I also got my Dropbox folder on the 64 Gb SD card (DropBox really doesn't want to be on removable storage, but you can fool it by mounting the card as a "folder" on C:).
  • >but you can fool it by mounting the card as a "folder" on C:)

    Nice. Filed for future use.
    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>
  • ercoerco Posts: 19,264
    edited October 5 Vote Up0Vote Down
    potatohead wrote: »
    Bye forum. Hope to see all you peeps on the other side.

    Why does that sound so FINAL, potatohead???? Say it ain't so!

    For programming, I've been hoarding used pre-owned Toshiba CL-45 laptops off Ebay for ~$50 each, shipped. More like netbooks, 2GB RAM, 32GB eMMC storage (not even an SSD, just SMT eMMC on the main PCB). Not a great "only" computer but they work fine for programming, Netflix, email & web surfing. Nice bright 14" screen, decent sound, Windows 10, 5-hour battery life, 3x USB, HDMI-out, thin & lightweight. I'm teaching some intro electronics/robotics/programming classes to my fellow toy design peeps at Inventoy. Not everyone has a laptop or PC, and somebody always has issues with the USB/serial adapter I provide, so I always have 5 laptops charged up and ready to go. Saves time in the long run. I tell them to bring a thumb drive and a Harbor Freight multimeter and I supply everything else. They can sort out their computer issues at home.

    Edit: Many of the $50 laptops I get have a bad/corrupt Win10 installation or are password-locked. My get-out-of-jail card is that I bought this same laptop new for the twins circa 2015 and the recovery media from that laptop works to repair these identical models. Crafty, eh?

    1280 x 720 - 277K
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • @erco - those sound like great deals!

    Some times my mind seems to wander..... these days I just tag along.
  • ercoerco Posts: 19,264
    edited October 5 Vote Up0Vote Down
    doggiedoc wrote: »
    @erco - those sound like great deals!

    They were among the cheapest laptops ever. Walmart sold them. I bought ours brand new on Black Friday for $120 from Office Depot. Ebay prices range from $50 to $600. :)

    https://www.ebay.com/sch/PC-Laptops-Netbooks/177/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=toshiba+cl45


    I find them easy to maintain & repair IF you made a USB recovery drive and can find it. Lose it and you've got a brick.


    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • Sorry Erco!

    I am not going anywhere. P2 chip coming my way soon. :D

    Now is not the time to leave. Activity is gonna go up!

    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>
  • Phew! Gladda hear it.
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
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