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Old 11-02-2015, 08:50   #16
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
Cheapest one on offer, sea water kills all machines equally and nav software (in fact most stuff) runs fine on the most basic machines. I would also be tempted to look at one of the convertibles. Just seeing some around where you can remove the screen and take it on deck as a tablet - much easier to waterproof, not sure about how it works so don't know the limitations. Anyone tried one?
SSD is a must, not only more robust it makes the most basic machine seam like a descktop. Most of the time wait time I see is disc access mot machine speed. Paticularly important a boot up which is several times faster. I swaped out the standard 500Gb drive and replaced it with a 125GD SSD, put the standard drive in a seperate case and keep it tucked away safe with all my photos on it
I agree with this. What I recommend is Samsung 840 SSDs, specifically, some of the other brands have had performance or reliability problems, Samsung has enjoyed a great reputation from the beginning.

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Old 11-02-2015, 09:11   #17
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

Originally Posted by budm303 View Post
Do not confuse the machine with the OS (operating system). The device (hardware) is what is susceptible to environment. PC (generally understood to mean Microsoft software enabled machine) is more susceptible to challenges of programs. Linux installations are superior, cheaper (free) and better maintained. Both systems can be made to run with the other's programs. The basic consideration should be how well the machine reacts to external sources, i.e., a clean constant charge, and programs inputs.
All good points and good clarification.

Originally Posted by socaldmax View Post
I agree with this. What I recommend is Samsung 840 SSDs, specifically, some of the other brands have had performance or reliability problems, Samsung has enjoyed a great reputation from the beginning.
Good to know. I've been considering a HD swap to SSD.

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Old 11-02-2015, 09:42   #18
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

Of course if he's asking apple vs PC, he's probably not that into computers to bother with linux.

I do agree with not buying top of the line unless you really have a need for top of the line. 99% could do fine with a $300 laptop and when it dies replace it (do regular backups regardless)
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Old 11-02-2015, 09:45   #19
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

I have a 6 year old Mac, my first. I love it. It's been cruising 3 years and is suffering from the environment. Will need replacement within the next year (if I'm lucky). Been on all the Mac forums to see if there is an effective way to ward off the effects of salt air.....there is not. Any computer is only going to last you a few years out here. They all run the programs I need at this leisurely stage in my life. A competent PC for what I use is under $500. Any Mac is 3-4 times that much. I'm reluctantly headed back to PC when the time comes. Don't want to get a job.
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Old 11-02-2015, 09:48   #20
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

I own both for work reasons.

Keep in mind that Apple is proprietary hardware and not nearly as popular around the world as in the USA. That makes it significantly more expensive than equivalent PC options. Also, with Apple they throttle your ability to easily move around media files, since they want to sell you all your music and movies and not have you derive them from other sources. Amazingly, Apple has even surreptitiously removed media from people's devices that they deemed competitive: Apple admits it deleted songs purchased through competing stores from iPods without warning | 9to5Mac

That said, their software is pretty bulletproof and easy to update when required. Windows, not so much in many cases.

Good Windows based PCs with SSDs can be bought for a fraction of the price and serviced anywhere, or just thrown away when broken and get the latest.

If you want a PC for $40 (supports Windows or Linux), get a Razberry and attach an inexpensive keyboard, monitor and mouse:

What is a Raspberry Pi? | Raspberry Pi

Being pretty experienced with both Apple and Windows PCs environments and if given a choice for cruising, I would go with a reputable, but inexpensive PC with SSD and not older style HDD drive for a laptop and keep an iPad for the useful navigation and other sailing related apps.

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Old 11-02-2015, 10:07   #21
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

We chose Microsoft' Surface Pro 3, and we love them. Replaced a PC, 2 Laptops, 2 Tablets and 1 Kindle. With two Surface Pro 3's.

Really consider the eco system you want to be in PC or Apple, as others have said there is no wrong answer, they are both good choices.
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Old 11-02-2015, 10:18   #22
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

valhalla360: Of course if he's asking apple vs PC, he's probably not that into computers to bother with linux.

Ubuntu does all the work. WUBI is available for WIN.
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Old 11-02-2015, 10:27   #23
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

I use an Ipad for the great majority of my computing. Less power, better moisture/salt resistance, easier to store. I also have a bluetooth keyboard and stand.

I only connect to the Internet with an Ipad except for software updates to the laptop -- I've wasted too much time reinstalling Windows and otherwise troubleshooting attacks and gremlins that got into the laptop from Internet and email.

I use this 2 terabyte wireless disk for backup, movies, and to move things between the Ipad and laptop. The Ipad, iphone and laptop can all access it simultaneously. It's fallen off things and gotten bounced around in an unpadded shoulder bag with no complaints. Since it is not SSD, I don't have it running underway in a bad sea just to be safe. And because it is wireless, it can be kept in the driest locker aboard.
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Old 11-02-2015, 10:57   #24
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

First time Poster. I tend to Lurk, but I am an expert on both PC and MAC so I figured I would come out of the woodwork (I have over 30 years of experience working in the industry, I used to be the Senior Integration Engineer for Ultrabook, Tablet, and Mobile platforms for a large semiconductor company)

Apple tends to build better hardware which lasts longer, they use higher quality components which handle repetitive cycles more, this also adds a little hardening to components when they are exposed to the harsh environments. However, all this engineering comes at a cost multiplier with corresponding availability. If travelling outside of the United States, parts for the Apple tend to be hard to find.

Typical failure for both Apple and PC's include hard drives, power systems, and displays (usually in that order)

PC's are pretty much a quality crap shoot. There are some harsh environment PC's like the Panasonic ToughBook which would probably fair very well being dumped in the Ocean, but no one wants to shell out $4k for a laptop.

Memory, power adapters, and hard drives can be purchased anywhere around the world, even in the "third world." However, displays and internal power packs will not be available. Paying more money for a PC does not necessarily mean you will be getting better hardware. For better quality hardware look for business class hardware designed for corporations and not home users. These systems tend to be more robust and specialized; parts are easier to come by and they are supported longer by the manufacturer.

Both PC's and Apples can pretty much run any OS out there, yes it's possible to run OSx on a PC if you know how to hack the BIOS.

SO basically the decision is, Spend more money up front for something which will probably survive, or spend less money for something which may be easier to fix.

Having repaired several Apple products, taking them apart is not for the faint of heart, one powerbook which I replaced the Hard drive on, I counted 68 Screws (little dinky ones) I also needed 2 specialized screw drivers, and special case tools.

As mentioned earlier, Tablets are also a very nice option, They are usually sealed up tight, can be inexpensive (not Apple), last at least 4 years until the battery starts giving problems, and can be paired with Bluetooth Keyboards.

My first gen Ipad is still alive and kicking and it has been everywhere including being dropped in the Pacific.
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Old 11-02-2015, 12:22   #25
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

Why not and iPad?
Weatherproof case.
We got rid of on board PC years ago.
We are very happy with our iPads and iPhones.
Versatile, low power consumption too.
Expensive, yes in Australia expensive.
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Old 11-02-2015, 12:41   #26
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?


I definitely prefer the Mac for editing videos, but a low current draw 12V PC running Linux Mint would be the perfect complement for a MacBook, and cheap to boot.

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Old 11-02-2015, 13:19   #27
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

Short Answer: Strongly consider buying a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (8GB RAM, i7 processor, 512GB SSD).

In my opinion, the SP3 hardware is on a par with the Apple hardware.

Windows 8.1 has no where near the "quirks" I was expecting and had heard of. For me, the ease of switching instantly from the W7 desktop UI with which I am intimately familiar to the tile-based tablet interface is, to me, "slick" now that I have been using it for six weeks. I had used the Windows 8 tile-based GUI on my MacMini via Parallels X virtual machine software and thought it was clumsy - on a mouse-driven desktop or laptop, I think it is.

Long Answer:

After retiring from the computer industry in 2008, I have spent a good portion of the past 7 years cruising the South Pacific, Tasmania, New Zealand, and the Pacific Northwest. Most recently, I spent 4 months this past summer cruising through SE Alaska. That's where my 6 year old MacBook Pro died which put me in the same situation as you find yourself.

I was in a quandary as to whether to just go buy a new 13 or 15 inch MacBook Pro (I love Apple hardware) or go back to a PC laptop which would natively run my navigation and other nautical software. After and a thorough analysis of how "I" have used and would like to use computers, laptops and tablets on my boat, I bought a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with the i7 processor, 8GB RAM and a 512 GB SSD.

Frankly, I was skeptical that Microsoft could lure me back. I spent too many years at work dealing with Microsoft - both the good and the bad. But, the potential of being able to replace my MacBook Pro, iPad4, and my 2011 MacMini running Windows 8.1 via Parallels X with one highly portable machine which could be a fully functional desktop PC one minute and a tablet the next was just too hard to resist. Add to that the "potential" to mount the keyboard-less SP3 in a water-proof case on my binnacle to run the Windows version of the Navionics Boating HD App, and I was hooked.

Microsoft gave me a 30 day return it with no questions asked guarantee and a two year "break and replace" warranty. The SP3 cost me $2,000US. With options like a wireless TV adapter (kind of like my Apple TV), extended warranty and a docking station, I have spent maybe another $600US.

After a six week ordeal of re-installing all of the apps I owned or installing new apps I needed to buy, including: Nobeltec Odyssey, Fugawi Marine ENC 4.5, Fugawi Marine 5, OpenCPN 4.0, Actisense Nema 0183 Reader, etc., I can tell you I am 95%-99% happy with my decision.

The only significant boating-related issue I had to resolve was how best to provide access to a GPS receiver. The MS SP3 does not have a built-in GPS receiver. There are a lot of different ways to solve the lack of a GPS receiver. I decided to buy a $99 Bluetooth Garmin Glo GPS Receiver which receives both US GPS and Russian GLONASS signals.

Initially, none of the navigation apps I have could interface to the Bluetooth Garmin GLO. To solve the problem I downloaded the free version of Franson's GpsGate 2.6 software. After the typical installation problems, I got Odyssey, Fugawi and Actisense to reliably recognize one of GpsGate's virtual com ports which channels the Garmin GPS receiver's signal. I am still working to get Navionic Boating HD to work.

For me, if I can find a waterproof enclosure which allows me to mount the SP3 to my boat's binnacle and use the SP3 like I use my iPad 4 running the Navionics Boating HD app in its LifeProof waterproof case attached to the binnacle via a Ram Mount, I'll be totally satisfied.

If all goes as planned, I'll buy another SP3 as backup in case the first one dies. You have to have a backup. I have watched a number of Apple and PC laptops die due to prolonged exposure to the marine environment - damp salt air, accidental immersion, flying across the cabin and smashing into a bulkhead on a rogue wave, etc.

Bear in mind, I have yet to take the SP3 cruising. However, I am looking forward to:

1) Being able to leave the boat with a computer that doesn't weigh a minimum of 10 - 15 lbs with its case and accessories
2) Going to an Internet cafe (in God know where) to do my passage and route planning using the computer which will be used for navigating.
3) Not worrying about someone breaking into the boat and stealing the navigation computer. It will be with me when I am off the boat.
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Old 11-02-2015, 13:45   #28
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

Panasonic Toughbook CF-52 Water resistant, touchscreen, Built in GPS and wifi all the bells and whistles.. $745.00
MaxSea Navigator Program w/ all the Caribbean charts.. $750.
So $1500.00 and you have a semi waterproof Chartplotter that is backlit w/ a LCD sunlight viewable screen..

CF-52 Panasonic Toughbook Size: 13.3"
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Old 11-02-2015, 13:47   #29
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

Originally Posted by fjwiley1 View Post
MarkJ and others, how do you protect your PC from our salt environment..
I am not protecting mine yet, but I was thinking a lot about it, and I will definitely use my foodsaver for storing parts, and I have been researching various protection sprays, some of non-consumer-grade pro stuff looks quite promising, so I will definitely try to treat all my electronics with a coat of some higher-end stuff. Dunno if it will work though
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Old 11-02-2015, 14:45   #30
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Re: Cruiser's Laptop Computer: Apple or PC?

I am wondering why not more people are using toughbooks. It seems to me a great and affordable well protected computer for our harsh environment.

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