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Old 02-03-2016, 13:45   #1
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This is not strictly boat gear, but still and essential item on most cruising boats, including for navigation.

I'm an extremely "early adopter" where laptops are concerned -- bought my first one in 1984, a Sharp PC5000. It ran DOS 1.0 and had "magnetic bubble memory" cartridges, which cost, IIRC, $1200 for 64kB of storage. Those were the days! It cost -- I remember well -- $4500, in 1984 dollars, more than half of what I had just paid for the nice BMW I was driving at the time.

Since about 2000, I have been using the very expensive Sony Vaio ultrabooks, TT, TZ, finally Z2, often paying $3000 or more for them.

My last Z2 was destroyed in my knockdown in the North Sea last summer (fortunately the only damage), and after much, much research, this fall I replaced it with -- an Asus UX305.

This thing is the absolute t*ts. It has a slow processor -- Skylake "M" chip. I took a big risk with that. But the new OS (Win 8.1) is so much lighter, and the new platform so much more efficient, that it runs considerably better than the old Z2 with the i7 processor. So the gamble really paid off -- the upside of the "M" CPU is that it uses so little power, that the machine doesn't even need a fan.

So -- and this is highly relevant to cruisers -- it means I get 7 or 8 real hours of battery life, more than the Z2 even with its extra battery slice attached. Another big benefit is that the 45 watt charger is TINY -- the DC one actually fits down inside the cigarette lighter adapter (!), and the real power consumption is at least 3x less than the Z2. And with no noticeable loss of performance. Since you don't lug the machine much without its power supply, the volume and weight of the power supply are just as important as that of the machine itself. My uber-expensive Z2 came with two power supplies -- one for the desk, and one for travel, but even the travel one is about 3x the volume and mass of the Asus one.

Everything else is all good, too. The screen is gorgeous (it's an IPS panel, 1080p native resolution), it has three USB 3.0 ports, it has 256 gig SSD drives, and it is razor thin (thinner than a Macbook Air) and made of very solid metal.

Now all this is quite excellent by itself, but here is the absolute hammer -- the damned thing only cost $550, or about 6x (!) cheaper than my Z2 cost me in 2011. For a real quality feeling metal device, more solid than the expensive Z2.

Most delightful computer hardware purchase I've made in a long time; just thought I would share. Incidentally, when I was in Singapore, I spent some time with an Internet billionaire, friend of my host, who had the same machine, and was raving about it. For $550!

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Old 02-03-2016, 15:58   #2
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Re: Laptops

I can see my screen perfectly in bright sunshine
It doesn't notice pouring rain
Drop it 6 feet onto concrete, pick it up and keep working
Charges from the car/boat's cigar lighter with the same Lind charger that plugs into 120/240V
Screen swivels to use it as a tablet
Securely locks onto a dedicated vehicle mount/port replicator
Touch pad & touchscreen usable wearing gloves
Has serial port, 3G modem (later Mk's are 4G) with onboard fast GPS that works faultlessly inside the deck saloon under 5mm. steel overhead
i5 2520M 2.5 GHz, no fan
Samsung 840Pro 240GB SSD + 8GB Crucial DDR3, W7 x64, boots from shut down to password in 17 seconds - no point sleeping it
Drive is in removable caddy so interchangeable in seconds

No usb3, no DVD, graphics not the best but it's exactly what I needed & wanted - no problems ever, had it 3 years+

It's a Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 Mk.5

I'd only replace it with the latest Mk.8 or maybe the 13" screen CF-31

ps. didn't touch a computer from 1970 until 2001.

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Old 02-03-2016, 16:11   #3
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Re: Laptops

That's good information.

I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 through work and I have to say that I was very skeptical at first but now that I have had it for about 8 months I really like it. You probably aren't going to edit video or do gaming but it is surprisingly quick and efficient just running normal office apps and internet. Plus it is great as a tablet or with the keyboard. Compact with decent battery life.

I am trying to find a waterproof/resistant case for it and I will probably buy a Pro 4 for use on the boat.
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Old 02-03-2016, 18:00   #4
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Re: Laptops

I am using a very inexpensive Toshiba.... don't do nav... just the usual computer stuff. Keys are coming off so I am thinking about something new. First idea was a small form box... use wireless keyboard and mouse and large monitor which could be set on the nav station or on a wall mount for entertainment purposes. I think they are solid state... no CD but would have to use an external one or load stuff from a USB drive.

I do not want to take it with me... it can live in a locker.

Any thoughts?
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Old 03-03-2016, 00:55   #5
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Re: Laptops

Dockhead, I think you got a good deal on that one. Can't find it at nearly that cost here, although notice that has a similar price available. Seems it has gotten good reviews!

I like the Asus offering in portable devices. I replaced my old work laptop with a desktop at the office + Asus t100 hybrid for travel about 2 years ago. Based on the price (250€ discounted), I was really skeptical about the Asus' performance, but here too the gamble paid off. Runs office programs and W10 without problems, decent 10"IPS touchscreen, charges through USB etc. Biggest issue is the removable keyboard, which is not usable for real typing (I write quite a lot), but good enough for emails and forum posting .

Recently got an Asus G771 17" laptop with SSD and i7 quadcore for photo and video editing for home. Really happy with this one; superb screen and decent performance for the price. The beast will go on the boat this summer. We don't have a TV on board and the laptop will do double duty as an entertainment system. Battery life is terrible though, just 2 hours of light use. This is for the marina, or through an inverter when the engine is running.

Sandero, do you mean something like Intel's NUC-line? I think you could build a nice system around those mini PCs and was considering it earlier. Being lazy, and needing a somewhat powerful computer for the home as well, I ended up with the laptop.
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:05   #6
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Re: Laptops

Yeah, computers are getting dirt cheap. Current one was under $300 and works fine. The only thing I don't like is the keyboard. Gets about 5hrs on a charge but we can always plug it in, so that's good for just about anything.

Unless you have a processing hungry use, I really don't see the need to get into the high end computers.

Can't see using a fixed desktop computer but we do still travel a lot so taking the computer with us is a critical function.
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:14   #7
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Re: Laptops

My new raspberry pi 3 arrives tomorrow. 35 quid
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:28   #8
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pirate Re: Laptops

Well.. my beloved 'Tosh' died of alcohol poisoning a couple of years back.. overdosed on Gin and tonic so after the funeral I went and acquired an Asus Notebook for 150euro in Cork.. small and portable enough to fit my small rucksack its my companion around the world..
Does my Nav, Yahoo and CF stuff quite efficiently..
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