So far today I've used the Z88 in the local library (although the kids ensured that it was only very brief) and then up at the school. My wife has recently taken a job as a school administrator, and as such she needs to make sure that everything is in order (as much as possible) before we go on holiday.
So, what other computers provide this level of portability/convenience? I'm talking here about instant on for writing with absolutely no messing around. In my mind a solution that involves a PDA and a bluetooth keyboard doesn't hit the spot close enough - two things to carry, forget it! Bluetooth - ok when it works, but anything that is wireless always suffers from gremlins. The portable TRS-80 (Tandy Model 100/102) was an early contender, the Psion 3/5 provided a certain level (although touch typing on such a small form factor proved to be a pain after a while). Amstrad made a couple of portables (definitely not the PPC640!) that fit the bill, there were some Epson models, I can't think of any more off hand? Let me know if there are any.
The display on the Z88 is a litte muddy in general lighting conditions, but I have to say as I sit here in a properly lit office that it really comes alive under decent lighting conditions. It is crisp, and have 80 colums available feels really quite luxurious!
The only downside of the keyboard I can find is that it is not very cat friendly. I say cat, but anything that is attracted by static appears to be drawn to the keyboard. It's a kind of sticky rubber aswell, which works really well when typing and strangely enough appears to be quite robust. The only issue with this machine is that the rubber is lifting slightly just by the RAM trapdoor at the front of the machine, but it is staying put so not that much of an issue.
What would be really nice, of course, is if the connectivity matched the convenience of the form factor. It's really in this area (as I touched on in my last post regarding the use of cellular modems) that the onward march of technology really makes its' presence felt. Does anyone know of a piece of kit that presents itself as a hayes-compatible modem (or at least one that has straight text-based commands) that can talk to the internet via a 3G network? I think the sticking point wouldn't be the software (you could soon knock up something that emulated a hayes modem and provided a suitable interface to the internet - phone number to telnet address directory?) but the RS-232 interface. Seriously, if anyone knows of a solution please let me know, twitter @urbancamo (and I'll retweet to @retrochallenge). Obviously it needs to be small with a decent battery life. It could work wonders will all sorts of retro toys in the future!