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A Palmtop PC was an approximately pocket calculator-sized, battery-powered computer compatible with the IBM Personal Computer in a horizontal clamshell design with integrated keyboard and display. It could be used like a subnotebook, but was light enough to be comfortably used handheld as well. Most Palmtop PCs were small enough to be stored in a user's shirt or jacket pocket.

Palmtop PCs distinguish from other palmtop computers by using a mostly IBM-compatible PC architecture and BIOS as well as an Intel-compatible x86 processor. All such devices were DOS-based, with DOS stored in ROM. While many Palmtop PCs came with a number of PDA and office applications pre-installed in ROM, most of them could also run generic, off-the-shelf PC software with no or little modifications. Some could also run other operating systems such as GEOS, Windows 1.0-3.0 (in Real mode only), or MINIX 2.0.

Most Palmtop PCs were based on a static hardware design for low power consumption and instant-on/off without a need to reboot. Depending on the model, the battery could power the device from several hours up to several days while running, or between a week and a year in standby mode. Combined with the instant-on/off feature, a battery would typically last from a week up to several months in practical use as PDA.

The first Palmtop PC was the DIP Pocket PC aka Atari Portfolio in 1989.

Palmtop PCs include:

Some touch-screen computers may also be counted into this category:

Some clamshell design, now-discontinued ultra-mobile PCs (UMPC) can be seen as successors to this class, for example:

See alsoEdit

  • Sub-notebook, IBM- and x86- compatible, clamshell design, but larger than Palmtop PCs
  • Netbook, IBM- and x86- compatible, legacy-free, clamshell design
  • Ultra-mobile PC, IBM- and x86- compatible, legacy-free, not necessarily clamshell design
  • Palm-size PC, not necessarily IBM- and x86- compatible, various form factors
  • Handheld PC, not necessarily IBM- and x86- compatible, various form factors
  • Pocket PC, typically not IBM- or x86-compatible, various form factors
  • PalmDOS