HP Omnibook 900
Best retro purpose
Mid Windows 98 era gaming, for DirectX 7 and OpenGL 1.1 titles released before 2000 or as office computer. The best model is 900B, offering a good compromise between speed and compatibility. While the Ati Rage Mobility chipset does not have any Windows 3.1 support, the ESS Audio chipset offers great dos compatibility and the video chipset is very fast on VESA modes. The only relative drawback is that there is only 4MB of VRAM, too little for games such as Quake 3, despite the potential. The 800x600 resolution 12-inch display is the best choice since VRAM is less than 8MB, already limiting some games at 640x480 resolutions. All MS-DOS games run fast even on 640x480 resolutions. Good RAM expansion capabilities ensure that most games will be limited by the video chipset or the CPU more than the RAM size.
Durability and repair-ability
The laptop's case has only avereage plastic quality, as the case is generally prone to cracks and especially on the hinges area due to a not so good design of the LCD screen frame. Another design issue is due to the LCD display cable that has little strain release, creating an unreliable connection and some display artifacts. These problems were prevalent on Dell Pentium III laptops as well.
Access to the hard-drive is straightforward, requiring only a single unscrew to pull out the hard-drive tray. Access to the RAM, cooling, CPU is quite simple as only two top screws and a cover to be taken out that secure the keyboard. The cooling system is quite adequate for the designed CPU and can be easily upgraded on the 900B model, suggesting good durability.
Greatest features & flaws
|Great Windows 98/95 2D and early 3D Gaming platform||8MB VRAM would have been a better design choice|
|Good CPU expansion and MS-DOS SoundBlaster compatibility||Mediocre LCD screen and mono speaker, no CD-ROM or floppy drive|
|Comfortable keyboard, innovative trackpoint/trackpad combo||Laptop upper case and display bezels are prone to cracks|
|Good cooling, low CPU heat dissipation||Noisy, single speed CPU cooling fan|
A nearly top of the line, slim, business laptop, released in 1999. It had a good mix of parts especially for the 900B model but a chassis that is not too ressitant and not enough video RAM, just 4MB on the 13 inch model. The choice of PC-100 SDRAM, as well as graphics chipset, make for a good all-around laptop while the 900 model is simply low-end with no redeeming feature as even the audio support is not great for a vintage DOS laptop. By 1999 the Omnibook 900 model laptop was already obsolete due to the video chipset choice but this was standard for IBM laptops of its time, with no 3D hardware rendering support, no matter how rudimentary. The system runs reasonably well Windows 2000, especially for the Ati Rage Mobility video chipset, if you really need it, but Windows 98 SE is the best choice.
The graphics chipset is slightly above average especially when you consider the IBM Thinkpad 600X line that still had the Neomagic option. The scaling support make it possible to have good output on the internal or external display. Overall, the Neomagic graphics chipsets were very fast for 2D operations, definitely faster than Trident or Cirrus Logic Chipsets and Chips andTech 6555x chipsets but they were obsolete for a Pentium III CPU. The ATI Rage Mobility is fast enough for DirectX 6 games and some DirectX 7 ones but keep in mind that anything similar to Quake III or Unreal Tournament 1999 is just borderline playable due to the low memory and low performance even on resolutions such as 640x480 in 16-bit colour.
The LCD TFT screen is somewhat alright but it uses a dated technology that results in low brightness, relatively low contrast and not that great screen response, creating a feeling of a midrange or even low-end laptop in some circumstances, despite the rest of the configuration.
The typical CPU implementation is very good. The Pentium 3 CPUs release heat slightly less than the previous model's Pentium II CPUs on typical workloads. The active cooling is quite good, even when running passively, but it is annoyingly noisy once it start, with no in-between balance. The inclusion of an USB 1.1 port is a major feature. The keyboard is just average the tactile feedback not being the best. The provision for both trackpoint and trackpad is quite good, offering a great flexibility to the user but it is not particularly impressive on either pointing devices.
The lack of removable drive tray is a missing feature that can be attributed to the compact laptop chassis. The rechargeable battery can be easily removed or replaced. The integrated speakers offer reasonable listening possibilities but it does not excel in any way.
The standard HDDs are quite a very good choice for any Windows 98 SE installation supporting the UDMA33 interface that allows a typical top performance of around 15MB/s transfers, if the harddrive can keep up. Replacing the harddrive is straightforward as the system accepts most late Pentium III era drives for a real speed boost.
Software support is great for reasonably modern (for its time) operating systems. Due to the video chipset, Windows 98 is the best choice of operating system. Good DOS sound support is present due to the ESS Audio chipset that is Sound Blaster compatible with the only quirk of forcing a Windows launch end subsequent return in DOS mode to be play games due to the way the drivers are designed.