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Old 27-10-2014, 11:24   #1
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What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

I am going to buy a new laptop to run Open CPN. What features do i need? I am a mac person and have not bought a new PC in many years.
This computer will be primarily for the boat and nav so dont need the fancy gamer computer. I currently have a full raymarine system on the boat with radar and chart plotter, auto pilot ect, so at some point would like to be able to network everything together.

Thanks,
Jeff
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Old 27-10-2014, 12:09   #2
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

OpenCPN has pretty light requirements.. Any modern laptop can run it without sweat.

Personally I would look into a tablet (MS Surface Pro, Dell Venue, Lenovo Yoga) as their power draw is 1/4 of a regular laptop. Windows 8.1 is very usable now and OpenCPN runs fine on my MS Surface..

If you look on Craig's list, you can get a Microsoft Surface Pro 1 for pretty cheap now.. I recently seen a 128GB one listed for $200.
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Old 27-10-2014, 12:44   #3
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

Many people buy a new pc, when what they need most often is a fresh operating system. If you is going to use the pc for Opencpn and navigation is your purpose on a dependable platform, what you need is not fancy but dependable.

I use Opencpn in a proffesional environment using an old IBM Thikpad T42 with 2gb of ram. I does not even have a hard drive in the PC, using only a sandisk 8GB FIT USB drive Cruzer Fit USB Flash Drive by SanDisk. This usb drive is so small that it can be permanently inserted without risk for damage to the drove or usb port.

The computer is running Xinutop Marinux Website in ramdisk mode, and due to the system running from ram and not the disk, the system feels very responsive and quick. The Xinutop is slightly tweaked to disable display saver etc. As GPS sensor, a Dualnav Home 10hz, 115000 baud gps sensor is used. Also , the system is also used with a USB to pilotplug cable for use together with a class A AIS system sometimes. In case I should make a serious mistake, I also have a extra USB drive with exactly the same configuration as backup. The usb drive contains all maps also. Really, you don't need a new computer, better to use your $$ to buy for example a nmea0183 capable fluxgate compass or a 10hz GPS.

And, yes I can also use this computer for web brovsing and other things ( this post is written on the T42) The old T42 was bought used to be used as a single purpose navigation PC for less than 10$ , has a very nice display, and I would not even think about replacing it with a new laptop even if i got a fancy model for free. The reason is simple. The old thinkpad is proven dependable and performs well, and that is the two most important features for me.
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Old 27-10-2014, 13:36   #4
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

Jeff,
since you are already familiar with Mac and you have the needed money there is nothing better than a MacBook Air.
Gerhard
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Old 27-10-2014, 14:00   #5
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

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Jeff,
and you have the needed money there is nothing better than a MacBook Air.
Gerhard
I dont have the needed money, that's why i dont want to step up to the mac book air!
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Old 27-10-2014, 14:17   #6
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

well, I can afford the Mac, but really, from my point of view, the mac is more suited for a designers office or in the sofa, more than in a boat.

Also, if your main purpose is navigation, a dedicated computer without all other kinds of fancy programs not related to navigation should be your goal.

I do not say that OpenCpn dosent run well on a new pc or mac, but from a professional users point of view: keep it simple and clean, avoid any and all kind of not absolutely basic programs except for what you need for your sailing and navigational purposes.
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Old 27-10-2014, 14:18   #7
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

Yes, they are quite expensive. But I have made the calculation: for the time I need to spend with other systems I can make so much money that I can buy 3 MacBook Air for.
Gerhard
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Old 30-10-2014, 06:11   #8
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

Hi
I have just started getting into OpenCPN.

I started with a standard 7 yr old Toshiba laptop with XP.

It runs sets up fine at home

When it came to using on the boat it wasn't going to hardy enough. I sail a small sports sailboat (Beneteau 27.7) and whilst the laptop would work, I just wondered for how long. It gets pretty wet on board sometimes.

So I looked around for a rugged laptop. Less choice, but to save you looking I have opted for an Itronix Gobook III. Itronix has gone out of business, but as usual plenty of online resources. Plus they are good value to buy.

If being rugged is important to you I can recommend them, touch screen, illuminated keyboard and fairly minimalist. Not sure about the power consumption yet as still testing, but worth considering

Mark
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Old 30-10-2014, 06:20   #9
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

Touch screen.

Avoid touc screen in nav computers like plague. If used outside and in cases of heavy rain or water spray, the touch display makes the nav undependable. One of my best friends was killed in a boat accident just for this reason 2 weeks ago. It was a standard commercial chart plotter with touch display used. Without the touc display ****ing up the navigation in bad weather, he would still be alive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moleman58 View Post
Hi
I have just started getting into OpenCPN.

I started with a standard 7 yr old Toshiba laptop with XP.

It runs sets up fine at home

When it came to using on the boat it wasn't going to hardy enough. I sail a small sports sailboat (Beneteau 27.7) and whilst the laptop would work, I just wondered for how long. It gets pretty wet on board sometimes.

So I looked around for a rugged laptop. Less choice, but to save you looking I have opted for an Itronix Gobook III. Itronix has gone out of business, but as usual plenty of online resources. Plus they are good value to buy.

If being rugged is important to you I can recommend them, touch screen, illuminated keyboard and fairly minimalist. Not sure about the power consumption yet as still testing, but worth considering

Mark
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Old 01-11-2014, 22:15   #10
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

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Touch screen.

Avoid touc screen in nav computers like plague. If used outside and in cases of heavy rain or water spray, the touch display makes the nav undependable. One of my best friends was killed in a boat accident just for this reason 2 weeks ago. It was a standard commercial chart plotter with touch display used. Without the touc display ****ing up the navigation in bad weather, he would still be alive.
I realize that this may be a sensitive subject, but it would help all of us to know more specifics on how a commercial chart plotter's touch display could directly lead to someone's death. Many of us are using touchscreen chartplotters, both turnkey commercial systems and OpenCPN on touchscreen tablets/laptops. If there is a potentially fatal issue here, we should all be made aware of it.
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Old 01-11-2014, 23:51   #11
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

I think any fatalities due to using touch screens are only natural selection. Same with gps, radar and any other technology.
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Old 02-11-2014, 02:38   #12
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

Well, on wheel marked equipment, touch display is not allowed due to the reason that it is considered less safe for navigation. Unwanted operaton by clumpsy hands or rain is amongst this reasons,,
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Old 02-11-2014, 02:51   #13
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

Hi, I am in the same boat looking for a laptop for my boat. I have more or less decided on a second-hand Panasonic Toughbook with built in GPS. Steer clear of Windows 8, it is so far up its own arse you can have serious problems getting it to do what you want rather than what it wants.
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Old 02-11-2014, 04:54   #14
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndytheSailor View Post
Hi, I am in the same boat looking for a laptop for my boat. I have more or less decided on a second-hand Panasonic Toughbook with built in GPS. Steer clear of Windows 8, it is so far up its own arse you can have serious problems getting it to do what you want rather than what it wants.
+1

I have an older Toughbook with built in GPS that was originally loaded with XP but is now running Linux Mint. For the same price as a cheap laptop, the Toughbook has more than adequate performance and wins hands down especially when considering the PITA that a GPS "puck" introduces. I spent a little more and installed an SSD hard drive which improves performance even further. When fitted with the optional rubber keyboard, this machine will also work quite happily in a salt spray environment. Some models also include the option of a daylight readable screen, although the standard screen is no worse than a regular laptop's. As a bonus they also have a touch screen which although basic and intended for use with a stylus, is nevertheless better than none and works adequately with OpenCPN.
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Old 02-11-2014, 05:11   #15
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Re: What to look for in a new laptop for Open CPN

About 7 months ago I needed to buy a new laptop. By good fortune the Intel rep was at the store. He talk me out of the older processors/cheaper machines and into waiting for an i5 machine to go on sale.

His point was that since the PC would be used part-time on a sailboat, it was the i5's lower power demands was a better choice. My Lenovo i5 touchscreen laptop does not have a fan. It is also one of the few laptops I have owned that does not burn my lap from the heat. I do not know what the power demand is when it is running, but the power supply is 20v and a max of 2.5 amps.

Yes the machine costs a US boat-buck. Yes there are cheaper machines out there. But if you need to add to your power generation ability to feed the laptop, is that saving money?
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