Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 25-04-2010, 18:50   #1
Moderator
 
Boracay's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Pelican Bay, Great Sandy National Park
Boat: Steel Roberts Offshore 44
Posts: 5,175
Images: 18
Laptop for Cruising...

I'm curious about what sort of specifications I should have when laptop shopping. My friendly local mega electronics store has such good salesmen that if I don't know what I want when I walk in I'll walk out with something that doesn't really suit.

I'm wondering which of the following I'd need, and what should be on the list.

* serial input
* multiple USB ports
* output to LCD TV
* memory chip sockets
* DVD burner
* 2+MHz
* Vista
* NMEA input
* CMap capable
* WiFi, Wireless and/or other net connections
* Linux capable

Any thoughts?
__________________

__________________
Rust never sleeps
Boracay Blog.
Boracay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-04-2010, 19:05   #2
Marine Service Provider

Join Date: Oct 2007
Boat: Endeavour 42CC
Posts: 1,182
what are your needs?
Simple e-mail and basic web surfing can be done by anything.
Photoshop & video editing are a different matter.

Do you want light weight portability or will it stay on the boat?

Wife just got an I-pad. Pretty interesting device. Much smaller/lighter than a laptop. Plenty of power for basic e-mail & wifi web surfing. But it may have other limits in it's capabilities
__________________

__________________
gettinthere is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-04-2010, 19:21   #3
Registered User
 
speciald@ocens.'s Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: On the boat - Carib, Chesapeake
Boat: 58 Taswell AS
Posts: 1,139
NOT Vista - use XP, some programs will not run on 7. Serial input is unusual any more. I have a ToughBook 52 w/ 1 serial input but use a serial/USB multiport for connecting SSB and AIS. A $300 note book may be all you need - small, lightweigh, enough USB ports if you use a powered port replicator. Look at an Ascus Eee running XP - should be available on line for about $300, $100 for an extra memory chip, and use a LCD w/ monitor input. It has WiFi and Bluetooth if you want it.
__________________
speciald@ocens. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 10:04   #4
Registered User
 
RainDog's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Varies
Boat: Pacific Seacraft 34 #142
Posts: 1,183
* serial input - getting hard to find. Probably not needed unless you have a specific application in mind.
* multiple USB ports - for sure
* output to LCD TV - HDMI Out if your TV supports it
* memory chip sockets - The only consideration here is if you are looking at a netbook. They are limited to 1 gig ram, which could be a problem. Any other notebook should support at least 4 gigs.
* DVD burner
* 2+MHz - see below
* Vista - Avoid Vista like the plague. I would go for Win7. XP would be my second choice.
* NMEA input - I do not think you will find a computer with a NMEA port. Most likely you will be connecting NMEA devices to a USB port.
* CMap capable - I would add a graphics card. See below.
* WiFi, Wireless and/or other net connections - you probably would have a hard time finding a laptop that does not have built in Wifi and an Ethernet port.
* Linux capable - any box that runs windows should run Linux


For processor, if you get a netbook, they use low-power processors that do wonders for battery life, but have trouble keeping up with intensive video rendering. If you buy a normal laptop, any processor should be cable of handling what you throw at it. If you are using charting software, you will need some help drawing the charts. You need a dedicated graphics card. I would focus more on that than on the processor speed.

What is your budget?
__________________
RainDog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 10:23   #5
Moderator Emeritus
 
hummingway's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Gabriola Island & Victoria, British Columbia
Boat: Cooper 416 Honeysuckle
Posts: 6,933
Images: 5
I have two laptops both of which are very good at video processing. Neither were cheap though. I use a Sony Vaio TZ-160 for chart plotting. It will run for more then five hours on its own battery but I usually have it plugged in when I'm sailing anyway. Small and light with a high rez sceen. The other is a Dell media laptop which is large and heavy but quite powerful. It would make a great chartplotter but I prefer the lighter and smaller Sony.
__________________
“We are the universe contemplating itself” - Carl Sagan

hummingway is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 10:29   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Fort Pierce, FL. Texas Roots
Boat: 82 Present, 13 ft dinghy
Posts: 492
What about a mini mac tied to a good antenna (wireless) tied to a flat screen tv and a sling box elsewhere and a cheap laptop for away from the boat for e mail if necessary? Also for good reception areas an off air conventional antenna for local tv.?
__________________
'Da Mule
Mule is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 10:46   #7
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Eastern Seaboard
Boat: Searunner 34 and Searunner Constant Camber 44
Posts: 949
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
Any thoughts?
Low power consumption should be on the list. That's also a plus for the mini and some netbooks which have a pretty low draw.
__________________
Regards,

Maren

The sea is always beautiful, sometimes mysterious and, on occasions, frighteningly powerful.
Maren is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 10:55   #8
Eternal Member
 
imagine2frolic's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Las Brisas Panama AGAIN!
Boat: Simpson, Catamaran, 46ft. IMAGINE
Posts: 4,508
Images: 123
We bought a Compaq Presario CQ60 for $325. It has Vista, and it was a nightmare. Until we were informed that you can run it in XP. We have since installed Maptech, GPS, & C-MAP quite easily. We installed C-MAP, and then right clicked the icon. Went into properties, and had the choice to run it in any past Windows.......i2f
__________________
SAILING is not always a slick magazine cover!
BORROWED..No single one of is as smart as all of us!
http://sailingwithcancer.blogspot.com/
imagine2frolic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 13:15   #9
֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 13,022
Boracay, the question is what do you need it to do?

And then you work backwards from there. If Linux is a priority, you decide what flavor you are going to use and then find out what notebooks support that--or live in driver hell.

Do you want low power consumption? Then you are looking for a 10-12" screen. High resolution for charting? Maybe 15" 19xx/1080 screen. Gobs of power and you want to watch movies as well? 18" screen.

Do you type or word process? HP makes great laptops, funny keyboards. Lenovo, great keyboards. Check the price with a 3 year "depot" warranty, Dell may be cheaper than those two--but costs more when you add up the extras. (And I hate Dell anyway.)

XP is no longer supported, there will be no security updates for it. Your laptop will come with Vista or Win7 and that's simply life, unless you can get a bare system from someone like Lenovo. Which is probably a mistake because you'll want a Windows OS to dual boot, odds are. Everything doesn't run under Linux.

Serial ports ain't gonna happen. You'll buy a usb-serial adapter, that is logo certified for your OS because the uncertified ones are less likely to work well. Or, a PCM (or other) slot adapter to do the job. Those are the most expensive and most robust.

There's also no NMEA input on computers. Serial input was equivalent but that's just not going to be found on anything made in the last 5 years. The adapter does it.

And you want an SD-HD card reader built it, very very handy to move backups to your GPS or cell phone or camera.

The rest depends on what you need the machine to do, and work with. They'll pretty much all have DVD built in, look for a writer not just a reader. You won't get BluRay (reader or writer) yet without paying a steep premium. WiFi will be in almost everything, quality varies but that's the tail wagging the dog, you can get outboard WiFi that will have much higher range.

Batteries, battery options, docks, audio (if you want it to be your media center)...and of course the price you aren't willing to exceed. Processors? Anything probably will do these days, more gets you faster but even the low end is fast these days, unless you're doing photo editing or other intense tasks on it.
__________________
hellosailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 13:22   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3
IN 2006 I purchased a Durabook by Twinhead international. It has the advantage of being a "semirugged" unit built to Milspec 801. It is water resistant to spills on the keyboard, resistant to vibration, resistant to drops from table top height and the screen has a matt finish allowing me to view it outside under the cover of my dodger. I have installed Maptech software for use with Canadian hydrographic charts and the unit works just great. It has a serial port for connecting a Garmin GPS . I have been really pleased with this unit and at the time it did not cost much more than a run of the mill laptop. If I were to purchase again I would go for the solid state drive option which makes the unit just about bullet proof.
__________________
jonc1948 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 15:45   #11
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Houston
Posts: 149
If I was buying, I would bypass all those questions and specifications and just get a Macbook Pro. I like things that just work far better than things that have great specs on paper.

~
__________________
Jim D is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 15:54   #12
Moderator
 
Boracay's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Pelican Bay, Great Sandy National Park
Boat: Steel Roberts Offshore 44
Posts: 5,175
Images: 18
The story so far...

To summarize the story so far...

Many thanks to all for their help.

* serial input
* multiple USB ports
* output to LCD TV - HDMI
* memory chip sockets SD-HD card reader
* DVD reader/writer
* 2+MHz
* Vista Windows 7
* NMEA input
* CMap capable
* WiFi, Wireless and/or other net connections
* Linux capable
* spill resistant
* low power consumption
* dedicated graphics card
* DC/DC power supply

Budget is as required. Pointless to buy something that does not work.
__________________
Rust never sleeps
Boracay Blog.
Boracay is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 16:00   #13
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2005
Boat: Outbound 44
Posts: 4,560
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonc1948 View Post
IN 2006 I purchased a Durabook by Twinhead international. It has the advantage of being a "semirugged" unit built to Milspec 801. It is water resistant to spills on the keyboard, resistant to vibration, resistant to drops from table top height and the screen has a matt finish allowing me to view it outside under the cover of my dodger. I have installed Maptech software for use with Canadian hydrographic charts and the unit works just great. It has a serial port for connecting a Garmin GPS . I have been really pleased with this unit and at the time it did not cost much more than a run of the mill laptop. If I were to purchase again I would go for the solid state drive option which makes the unit just about bullet proof.
Was your Durabook one with Sunlight readable display? How well does it do outside? Also, do you know what it wattage it typically draws?

Paul L
__________________
Paul L is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 18:12   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3
Paul L
My durabook did not offer at that time a sunlight viewable screen but in the shade of my dodger it is fairly easy to view even on sunny days. I am not sure of the wattage as it uses a pretty standard 150 Watt power supply that I run off my inverter when I am underway. The company that builds the Durabook has changed its name but you can visit gowin.com to view their line of laptops. Hope this helps
__________________
jonc1948 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-04-2010, 19:14   #15
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Highlands, NJ 07732
Boat: Laurent Giles Salar 40
Posts: 260
Curious that no one really expressed a concern about durability in a marine environment. Other than the durabook that jonc1948 uses, everyone seems to use typical home use computers and is buying on features and price. Is it because you can never truly eliminate the marine environment issues and the CPU becomes a "disposable" item? It's kinda the way I feel, but I thought I was a "lone ranger" on this one

Chris07732
__________________

__________________
chris07732 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Laptop in Cockpit sneuman Marine Electronics 16 16-11-2009 10:28
He's a Laptop Hero! knottybuoyz Marine Electronics 12 07-06-2008 14:35
Laptop / Entertainment MaDouleur Fishing, Recreation & Fun 7 23-03-2008 12:40
Chartplotter vs. Laptop monkeyfeet Marine Electronics 2 05-01-2008 23:38
laptop gps kingfish Marine Electronics 41 17-07-2007 14:11



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 00:30.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.