I use an older Powerbook aboard quite a bit... and am thinking of getting a MacBook to use on board, so I can run both Windows-based programs as well as my Mac-based software. Fortunately, I may be able to avoid doing this as Garmin is coming out with Mac support for most of their stuff fairly soon. I also have an old (PII-266) Toshiba notebook on-board that I mainly use to program my Garmin GPS.
Whether you want/need a Toughbook depends mainly on how you will be using the laptop. I use my PB in the cabin, where it is very well protected from salt spray and such... if you want to be able to use the computer as a chartplotter, and view the screen in daylight out in the cockpit, then getting a ToughBook is generally worth the extra money, as they usually have daylight readable transreflective displays, and some are water/dust proofed. Be aware that some of the ToughBooks aren't really ruggedized and die just as easily as any other notebook.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.