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Old 30-03-2006, 09:39   #1
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Laoptop or Marinised Computer?

We're spending the next season milling around the caribbean and need to get a new computer. Has anyone had any experience with the marinised computers, or do you think that a laptop would be better?

Would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Kindest regards
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Old 30-03-2006, 12:23   #2
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December 2005 issue of water sailing">Blue Water Sailing has a good article about using an Xplore waterproof/resistant tablet PC at the helm as a repeater for a laptop or PC at the navsta.

Worth reading as you explore PC options.

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Old 30-03-2006, 16:57   #3
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A laptop in a Pelican case might be cheaper. Using the pelican case it can be stored without worry. It's the long term sitting around in the moisture that really gets electronics. Unless you are spending the money for a marine display terminal (the most expensive part) I can't see it. If you are getting a marine display then I should think the marinised computer pays off as it's "installed" You can't install a computer and not have it be marinised.

The laptop you can stow in a water proof case and take off the boat. Take it ashore and do other things with it. That ability is something to think about. You just can not use it in the cockpit in the sun.

I use the laptpop below deck at the Nav station. Laptops are nice for a lot of things and these days they play DVD's and mucic as well as about anything. You'll generally get some WiFi built in and open networks are pretty common.
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Old 30-03-2006, 18:26   #4
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I 2nd Paul's advice. There are many internet cafes in the Carib. You'll get much more use out of a laptop in a waterproof, positively bouyant case.

Anyone ever notice how the longer you are out of corporate life, the less you are able to spell correctly??
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Old 30-03-2006, 19:10   #5
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Hey Sean.

I believe that can happen to anybody. Who doesn't write or type often. Or also due to fatigue!!
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Old 30-03-2006, 21:19   #6
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I am sure there are lot's of opinions about what is the ideal computer setp fo a cruising boat I have had a few discussions on this myself. I had one cruiser pass through here who spent 2 hours telling me how miserable I would be with a laptop because if one part failed, the whole darn thing would be useless. I understand his thoughts about different components. Still, I spent the money and bought a Panasonic Toughbook 48, 7 years ago. I have replaced the hard drive once about 5 years ago, and this unit has been used aboard the boat, underway, working outside, occasionally in the rain.I used it for my business for a year and a half. Very heavy use, with no problems. I Use the Pelican case to transport and store it. The cord/power supply failed about a year ago, and I replaced it with a Kensington universal unit that has not only worked well, but gives me the option of plugging into a 12 volt receptical. The keyboard is moisture resistant. THe cover is titanium. As this unit is antique by computer standards, I am sure there are upgraded units available that are faster, and have more memory (This has 18.6 GB) I also have a Compac desktop on the boat. I have nothing good to say about it. IMHO a laptop is the only way to go. This unit cost about $3000 when I bought it. Not sure what similar units go for now, but you will pay for quality. Also, FWIW, I run 2000 Pro on this machine, and have tried XP home and Pro, and stayed with 2000. It works fine for my needs.
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Old 01-04-2006, 19:42   #7
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Some folks are computer people and others want to escape them. The key is finding the real you.

Personally, I'm a computer person and a laptop makes too much sense. Buy two. It's not tlike the old days when they were darn expensive. Compaq Presario's are selling for a good price these days. Wide and bright screen displays do DVD's exceptionally well. Add a bunch of USB devices too. They work well and stow securely.

My spelling is going south quickly. It's more a typing thing. This wireless keyboard skips letters and my hand problems seem to transpose them. Finger can't keep up with the brian either.

The keyboard has a three year warranty from Best Buy - silly stores. I've never had any key board last 2 years in the last 20. Just abot time to see them. It works better if the unit you need to replace is dicontiued as they give you a full credit towards whatever you like. When they offer an extended warranty like that on something I know won't last it I'll go for it.

For PC keyboards the Keytronic Lifetime are still a keyboard you won't trash quickly.
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Old 02-04-2006, 01:43   #8
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Thanks for the input it has all been very helpful and I think I'm going to go with the laptops.

I have also been looking into how companies 'marinise' computers, and it appears that,amongst other things, they coat the pcb's etc with a conformal coating, this protects them against moisture. I can get hold of a can for about £7 so I thought I may have a go with an old laptop that I've got, see if it works.
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Old 03-04-2006, 03:14   #9
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Laptop or marinised system really depends on how wet your boat is. I went for a quick dash across to France last week in a nice 36 ft long keel monohull. Unfortunately we had abt 4 hrs of Force 9 on the nose (we were late, the storm was early) and I couldnt believe how much water ended up below.
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Old 03-04-2006, 03:51   #10
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Re laptop

Hi there

I do know that Hummer brought out a water proof/resistant and shock proof laptop sometime last year.
It cost about $3000+ us (if I remember right) I look really good and well made, so it may be on there website.
Good luck in finding what ur looking for.

Wayne
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Old 03-04-2006, 09:11   #11
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It would be interesting if someone got a quote from Terra Logic. The new Panasonic Toughbook 29 looks pretty sturdy, priced around $3,500. So that brings back the fact you can buy 2 well equipped laptops for the price of a rugged one which would give you redundancy.
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Old 03-04-2006, 09:13   #12
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'MARINISED' COMPUTERS

G'day Andrew-Daymo!
Please tell us if the water-repellant spray affected your old laptop. If nothing obviously negative happened, how long will it be before we regard the process as a success? What is the $7 spray you are about to wield? We have two pc's in the middle cabin, with a back-up monitor, a previous century laptop from eBay, replacing an even older one from ditto, which will play DVD films which can also be viewed on the 'big' TFT bulkhead-mounted screen and handle VOIP, an even older TI laptop which has sat in the cockpit since the end of the last millennium and used solely for the chart programme. Since starting with pre-Windows 3.11, we have never been told that any hardware problem was caused or contributed to by moisture, even tho' we were adrift for 5-days without a rudder in a F10 with officially termed 'mountainous' cross-seas from 3 directions, one of which came below. It was the one time, we removed the TI below. It is also still working. Still like the spray idea.
Cheers!
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Old 03-04-2006, 15:32   #13
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Actually for good quality components you would not "coat" the PC boards. They last the longest of anything else inside the box. The thing to look for are "gas tight" connectors like they use in airplanes. It's the connectors that go south first and gather moisture. The basic boards are not that sensitive except to heat. Most could be washed with no adverse effects. Every little connection is where you'll eventually have trouble.

I doubt you can do much to a stock computer to make it marinised. These days however with few actual components the computer lasts quite well. It's the displays that are the real problem.
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Old 03-04-2006, 21:30   #14
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Originally I ordered the Toughbook 28, but I ended up with the 48. Not as rugged a construction, but considering it's use, and age, I could not be more impressed. It has passed the vibration test on the back of a Harley for a few months. It has been used from questionable power supplies, out in the field, in 20 deg temps, and run for days without shutdown. I has been used in light rain, and seen spray in the cabin. Since I have owned this computer, I have had 3 desktops (two at work, one on the boat, and three other work laptops, an Itronix, a Dell latitude 610 (hated it. wouldn't work at all in the cold up in Alaska), and a Dell D600 (current work computer) THe Itronix was heavy duty like the toughbook, but was too out dated, and had all sorts of hardware and software conflicts. The Latitude 610 couldn't hadle the cold, the heat, and the battery was good for about 30 minutes when new. The keyboard and touch pad were very poor quality, and I had numerous problems with them. So far (4 months) the D600 has held up, including working in the snow last month in Anchorage at 18deg. Through all of this, the toughbook still works fine.
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Old 04-04-2006, 20:36   #15
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Going to try and quickly offer a different opinion. I have been in the tech business for more than 15 years. I hear -- and mostly agree with -- the laptop opinions, except for one critical point, made by Tom Neale in his book All in the Same Boat. Desktops are SO cheap right now, especially decent used ones, that for a mere $150 you can have a fine computer on board and it really won't matter if it did go South. More than half of the times a desktop unit would fail onboard, I suspect, so would a notebook under the same conditions. The sole exception is if you drop $3,500 on a toughbook or similar water resistent model. They would last longer, as demonstrated by several users here -- but why would you want one that lasts that long? Much of the value of a PC on board goes beyond being able to run some programs that MIGHT still run on an old platform and OS. DVD players and writers, good wireless connections, the ability to use and IP based phone perhaps, large hard drives that have the room to cache many entire websites -- including this one, and all the wealth of info on it -- directly to the drive, any of these basically do require newer -- not new, but newer -- systems. Sure, a toughbook can last 7 years. So, you'd be running Windows 3.1, with no possibility of software upgrades because no one writes for it anymore, no USB support, no wireless basically, very limited email and web, etc.,. meanwhile, had you bought a series of, say, 4 cheap desktops, you could have replaced your PC with a newer one every 2 years, stayed current and still have spent -- $600-750, about 20% of what the toughbook was.

I just don't see it. Add in the ability to easily replace desktop components, add memory, etc., and I must agree with Mr. Neale. It's an easy call, at least for me (hey, I know others will disagree, and that's cool -- in fact, it's what I love about sailing the most -- what's right is what works for YOU, lol).
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