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Old 11-02-2011, 14:49   #1
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Best Onboard Laptop

seeking opinions on the best all round laptop for marine use. (navigation, weather faxes. durability. etc.)
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Old 11-02-2011, 15:11   #2
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This is by far the easiest question to answer: an Apple Macbook Pro with it's aluminium body. It isn't the cheapest option of course. If it's outside the price-range you're looking for you will have to settle for plastic so look at the non-pro MacBooks in that case, but the durability will move towards the average laptops of course.

It will run MacOS and Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 but only comes with MacOS so if you need Windows too (most likely) you must buy it separately.

If you want nothing to do with MacOS, you can just delete it and install Windows only. The Windows drivers for the hardware are all on the included DVD (just pop it in after installing windows) and called BootCamp.

I would keep MacOS on it though, in which case you run the BootCamp utility in MacOS which lets you decide how much of your harddisk is for MacOS and how much for Windows and it will ask for your Windows CD to install it. When done, download and install the free rEFit utility which gives you a nice OS selection screen when you turn your laptop on.

ciao!
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Old 11-02-2011, 15:34   #3
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My vote goes to the Panasonic Toughbook.
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Old 11-02-2011, 15:38   #4
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I agree, very easy question: a Toughbook. It is beyond a doubt the standard of excellence for durability. Nothing else (except the Toughbook clones) comes close.

If you don't want to pay $6000 for a laptop, you choice is a little harder.

I personally would find a nice $400 laptop and buy three of them. Keep two stowed as spares.

If you are using a conventional drive, make sure it has a free-fall sensor. This is a must have in my opinion. Even better may be to just use a solid state drive. The most likely problem you will have is with the hard drive, so maybe carry a spare or two. Make sure you do regular backups.

Also, consider using a keyboard protector. Helps keep the salt out of the keyboard. The keyboard is another common source of trouble (since people are always spilling liquid on them). Example: http://www.protectcovers.com/laptop-covers.html

Finally, when not in use, keep it inside a padded protective case.
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Old 11-02-2011, 15:49   #5
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For years I bought Dell laptops for work. That was until the local dealer sold me a basic Acer laptop for the wifey. Billiant bit of kit, aluminium chassis, great battery life, quiet, slim, light and at a basic price so if the worst happens there wont be tears. We will be buying Acers for work now.

Not sure I could justify spending big $ on a top of the range for either myself or for work.

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Old 11-02-2011, 15:55   #6
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Ours is a Windows '98, Compaq Presarrio. It is 11 years old, has always been on the boat, and still works. (The screen is getting bubbles, so it is about due). We use it for navigation, and weather fax ONLY!

The storyline that they only last a couple of years on a boat, has not been our experience. I think that the key is to stay off of the WEB!

We've found that the newer / smarter laptops, of the same size, draw more power. (we use a 12v to 19v transformer box). This matters!

For this reason, we will be replacing our old one, with an almost as old, "freebee"...

Mark
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Old 11-02-2011, 15:56   #7
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Okay, toughbook ain't bad but... y'all have been brainwashed by Bill lol .. he messed up your brains good


Nick
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Old 11-02-2011, 16:10   #8
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I can' say enough good things about the HP TC1100 Tablet PC. These machines were circa 2004-2009, and are tough as nails. They can routinely be picked up on EBay for $250, and upgraded to 2GB Ram, and a 300gb hard drive for another $150. It's the size of a sheet of notebook paper & under and inch thick. Runs Windows 7 without a hitch,and the handwriting & voice recognition are superb. I simply haven't found more bang for the buck. I've got 4 of em, and pick up a new one whenever I've got the time to cruise Ebay and get on the right side of the inevitable bidding war.



HP COMPAQ TC1100 TABLET LAPTOP - 1.2 GHz 60GB w/ STYLUS - eBay (item 290522695332 end time Feb-13-11 06:07:21 PST)
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Old 11-02-2011, 16:14   #9
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Whatever you choose, make sure it has a proper serial port, saves you having to have a usb serial adaptor.
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Old 11-02-2011, 16:24   #10
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Originally Posted by r.furborough View Post
Whatever you choose, make sure it has a proper serial port, saves you having to have a usb serial adaptor.
Good luck with that. Instead, you can:
  • use a USB GPS
  • use a BlueTooth GPS or NMEA mux
  • use a KeySpan USB<>Serial adapter which comes with drivers that work 100% with both Windows and MacOS for "difficult" applications like MaxSea.
On that BlueTooth (BT) front: I have a ShipModul NMEA mux with BT but never managed to get it to work good with several BT drivers I tried under Windows XP. I was shocked to find this works perfectly with the BT in my Macbook Pro though and I can move with it around the boat wirelessly and have full GPS and instrument NMEA feed

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 11-02-2011, 16:25   #11
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The most likely problem you will have is with the hard drive, so maybe carry a spare or two.
Do you know if hard drives can be vacuum sealed? I know the interior is under a vacuum, but would vacuum sealing the exterior possibly cause a leakage in the interior seal?
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Old 11-02-2011, 17:22   #12
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Do you know if hard drives can be vacuum sealed? I know the interior is under a vacuum, but would vacuum sealing the exterior possibly cause a leakage in the interior seal?
Doubt it but it more than likely would cause it to fail faster from the heat not being able to escape for the cooling it needs.

If your that serious about preventing failure buy a SSD drive.
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Old 11-02-2011, 17:35   #13
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Part of the equation is the power consumption. Many of the older laptops draw four or five amps @12V, which will become a big deal if you intend to run it continuously. The newer netbooks using the Intel Atom processor (or perhaps something similar) only draw one or two amps -- a big improvement. For occasional use the power consumption may not be an issue.

I used the Asus EeePc 1000HA netbook on my last Hawaii trip and it performed flawlessly.
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Old 11-02-2011, 18:28   #14
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Doubt it but it more than likely would cause it to fail faster from the heat not being able to escape for the cooling it needs.

If your that serious about preventing failure buy a SSD drive.
Actually, I meant for storage porpoises (seal-a-meal), whale I'm not using it. I use the BlacX system with several loose drives.
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Old 11-02-2011, 18:32   #15
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Actually, I meant for storage porpoises (seal-a-meal), whale I'm not using it. I use the BlacX system with several drives.
I'm with you now... Id just use a ziplok bag with a small silicone moisture absorber in it, squeeze out as much air as you can and you'll be fine. There is a company called Pelican that makes some really nice portable water proof lap top and hard drive cases but they are expensive.
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