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Old 18-07-2007, 16:32   #16
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My Dell D505 will have problems with screen color if the environment is too humid on the boat. It will clear up when brought into a low humidity environment.
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Old 18-07-2007, 19:31   #17
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We used the same Compac lap top computer for four years on board Exit Only - a Privilege 39 catamaran. The computer endured more than 15,000 offshore miles from Australia to the USA during those four years.

I chose the Compac because it used only 70 watts of power which meant we could run it as much as we wanted without sucking our batteries dry. I also got it because it had a serial port which made it easy to connect to pactor radio for email and for controlling the SSB radio for weather fax reception.

The only problem we had with the Compac was the screen. If I was taking a computer offshore, I definitely get an extended warranty that covers the screen. When you are bouncing along offshore, the hinges on the screen get a real workout. They can fatigue or even break over time. The hinges lasted for half a circumnavigation, which I reckon is pretty good, but the hinges were getting ragged by the time I arrived back in the USA.

My highest priorities would be to get an extended warranty that covers the screen, and get the lowest power consumption computer so that you don't have to skimp on it's usage.

We used the computer almost continuously when we were underway using C-map for digital navigation.
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Old 18-07-2007, 20:28   #18
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Dave, I'm glad I'm not the only one with laptop hinge problems but from what I hear that's a problem with some models--een in careful land use, like mine has mainly been. I wonder if it would be a good idea to make up a couple of hard/firm foam blocks, like the kind used to pad some packing boxes, and slip them over the sides of the laptop when the cover was up, so that they would "lock" it in position and take a portion of the strain off the hinges? A couple of blocks with "L" shaped cuts in them?
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Old 18-07-2007, 21:00   #19
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Hellosailor,

That's a good suggestion. I never thought about adding any supports for the screen so that the hinge would survive. Next time I go offshore, I will see what I can do. Thanks for the idea.
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Old 19-07-2007, 00:10   #20
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We stumbled upon a laptop a year ago that we purchased and have been using ever since on our boat for navigation and all the other usual stuff. We're very happy with it... It's a Twinhead Durabook and we got it at Sam's Club, of all places. It's built like some of the Toughbooks, but costs much less. It is drop, vibration and spill-resistant, with enough of the computer goodies to run everything we need. You can check it out at:
GammaTech Laptop PC N15RI
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Old 20-07-2007, 20:31   #21
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Aloha CD,

I got suckered into purchasing an expensive Dell... you know, a hotter, faster, sexier model. But I'd never have another Dell anything ever again! What a piece of junk, and equally lousy 'customer support'.

On the other hand I have nothing but good things to say for Toshiba. Thousands of blue water miles in the tropics and never so much as a hiccup from my old satellite model. I only replaced it because it was so old and slow. As best I know Toshiba doesn't make anything but laptops, and you gotta be good when you specialize like that.

As soon as I have even the flimsiest excuse, I'm going to give the Dell to some charity or maybe just pitch it in a dumpster. I'll sure never take it cruising as it can't hold up even in an air conditioned evironment.

You get what you pay for... next time I'll stick with Toshiba.

John
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Old 20-07-2007, 20:51   #22
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After the first time a very new Dell totally screwed up a multi-machine order for one of my clients I swore I'd never deal with them again. A decade later...I thought maybe never was too long, someone else needed a server "NOW" and Dell promised to ship a refurb/return off the shelf by two-day express. A week later...we still couldn't contact anyone, still hadn't received anything, and a Dell rep calls to say "Yeah, we couldn't process that credit card...yeah, its been so busy here it took us a while to call you."
So I said "thank you, I'm sorry to hear it has been SO BUSY that you couldn't make a phone call on a rush order for a whole week, but I can help with that. Cancel the order."
Client agreed with the decision, and waited the three weeks it took to get an IBM. (Their business machines, as opposed to personal line, were exceptional machines. They sadly never could figure out how to market igloos to Eskimos though.)
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Old 21-07-2007, 04:56   #23
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Quote:
As best I know Toshiba doesn't make anything but laptops, and you gotta be good when you specialize like that.
They make a full line of business, consumer and industrial products. As far as laptops go they don't make very much of the parts in a laptop. No vendor makes most of the parts or even a significant number of the parts these days. Virtually all the manufacturers have new lines out in the past few months so the games begin again. Michael Dell is even back running the company again too. I have noticed the decline of Dell machines too. I have an old one that still runs fine. My wifes old one has a bad mouse key and the hinge for the top shorts out the video some times.

Anyone with "brand" loyalty is living in a dream. The players are all changing and not all for the better. No one makes a laptop any more they only desgn the cases and assemble them in far away locations.

Last year when I went through all the players I found Compaq was putting out a nice laptop for a good price. I do think Toshiba had a few nice units but not by much and not by price. That changes all the time. The price margins on laptops has dwindled to a pretty low level.
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Old 21-07-2007, 14:58   #24
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I just googled C Map Max and the 1st entry had a list of compatible GPS's
hope that helps.
Steve.
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Old 21-07-2007, 15:02   #25
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sorry computer and I had a moment and I posted a reply to Southern man on this page by mistake.
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Old 23-07-2007, 17:19   #26
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My $0.02:

I've worked in IT for a while, and laptops are generally given a 2-3 life span for our corporate users (myself included). Within 2-3 years, the batteries are crap, the heat has crapped up the insides, the hinges don't work, and blah blah blah.

There are some cheap ones out there that will work great:
Newegg.com - Acer Aspire AS3050-1150 NoteBook AMD Mobile Sempron 3500+ 14.1" Wide XGA 512MB 80GB 4200rpm DVD/CD-RW Combo ATI Radeon Xpress 1100 IGP - Retail

I'd keep it in a bag when you're not actively using it, and pick up a spare power cord / inverter. The big thing is to pick up a spare external hard drive, or two if you want to be careful. My girlfriend and I have all our movies on there (in divx), and it makes it easy to get more and share them with our friends because we can just drag out external drive around with us.

In short, opt for the cheapo laptops (that are still a million miles ahead of whatever was out two years ago), get an external drive, and plan on it lasting 2-3 years.
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Old 23-07-2007, 17:39   #27
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Laptops are very powerful but not suited for a seaway for multiple reasons. They are fine for other on board tasks, but for navigation, a fixed chart plotter seems the way to go. It's secure and easier to use.

And speaking of navigation let me take this to another level.

What sort of navigation do you typically do? I recall the selling of 1000s of waypoints and routes on Lorans and GPSs. Who needs and uses this capability?

I don't. Before I do a trip or even a passage... I program the applicable waypoints. It hardly very many usually. For example if I am sailing from Bermuda to St Maarten it might be 2 or 3. From Block Island to Newport... 2?

I do use waypoints and wind instruments to comput when to tack or gybe to fetch a mark when I can't sail to it directly.

The navigation I do on an offshore passage is to be a plot of hourly fixes. I would take the lat lon and plot it. With a plotter it does it for me but it can go dark and fail.

How do you actually "navigate" with your GPS plotter or laptop? What tasks do you typically do?

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Old 23-07-2007, 21:27   #28
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Here's a funny tale about a guy a few weeks ago who couldn't find his way into San Diego Harbor at night. Spent five hours trying to get his chart plotter to work: California boating guide-news & classifieds on gadgets and not on seamanship, tisk tisk.I use a chart, a ruler, a pencil, and coordinates. Using a sextant takes a long time, and is impossible in certain weather conditions, so I use a GPS to get my position. I take my position, and make an x on the chart. Then I use my parallel bars and the compass rose to give me a heading. I update it every 12 or so hours (hourly or more so if in sight of land).I like my system because you can take all my electronic gadgets away and I could still sail around just fine, although the GPS really does make things a lot easier.Couple basic navigation skills with deduced (ded) reckoning, and the multi thousand dollar chart plotters seem kind of weird.
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Old 24-07-2007, 01:00   #29
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my laptop input is 120watts. 19v 6.3amp. Would the amp draw be the same if I used a dc to dc converter?? Or does it draw 10amps at 12volts (10*12=120)?
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Old 24-07-2007, 01:05   #30
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pick up a spare power cord / inverter.
why do you need a spare power cord?
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