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nauticalrich 12-17-2004 04:05 AM

GPS & Computer
Well I have the good old Garmen GPS with the Blue chard CD.

Since the memory capability of the GPS unit is somewhat limited I believe I need an onboard computer to be able to download new routes etc.

I know it is going to have to be portable and 12 volts.

Does anyone have any recommendations on what to get?

Thanks and a Happy Holidays to all.

Cap''t Rich

WHOOSH 12-17-2004 07:54 AM

GPS & Computer
It''s a distressing but well supported fact that laptops have a much shorter life span than their price would suggest they should, and are apparently built and tested so inadequately that there are a high percentage of ''out of the box'' failure in some cases. To illustrate this - and as one way to answer your question - I would encourage you to visit the Customer/User BB''s at the websites of the main computer manufacturers for the models & included peripherals you are considering. This can be most enlightening (also discouraging...) and listening to buyers talk about both their experiences with their new laptops and also the manner in which their queries, complaints and requests for support are handled by the manufacturer is most instructive.

I was convinced, for our budget vs. needs when buying a new boat laptop in early 2003, that Dell was the answer. Dell''s own BB scared me away from that choice (which has subsequently been validated over and over when I''ve talked with new Dell owners). Our in-house IT professional who supported the Field Sales and management laptops coached me away from IBM (altho'' I gather things have improved for them the last few years) and Gateways struggles in the marketplace left me underwhelmed with that choice. (A friend bought a new Gateway for the 2004 cruising season; oh my, the struggles and gnashing of teeth!)

FWIW - and all these anecdotal answers are probably not worth much, given the few data points they produce - I''ve seen a lot of Toshibas on boats and, knock on wood since that''s what we bought, not one problem or failure has been reported to us yet. (However, I''d encourage you to stash a desktop keyboard away as a spare; the keyboard seems to be the first thing to go).


maestro 12-17-2004 09:55 AM

GPS & Computer

I thought all O''day''s were equpited with super fast high memory computer systems??? Yours isn''t???

Why not just put the money towards a good color chartplotter??

Sasha_V 12-17-2004 11:25 AM

GPS & Computer
I''ll add to the comment on Dell.
We lashed out bigtime and ordered a Dell desktop and Dell laptop at the same time about four months ago.

Customer support was errr...patchy in terms of actally getting the features we wanted.
The boxes arrived.

The desktop worked fine, but did not contain some of the software we paid for (total lack of Office, either installed or in disk form) and unfortunate presence of Norton...which I specifically indicated I did not want. To make it even more special, Norton is locked into place with an admin code I was not provided with an so cannot be deleted and replaced with a decent Virus Killer. The emails and odd phone calls are still going on about getting that code.
Despite this, I am all-in-all happy with the desktop.

The laptop arrived broken. It would boot up fine, but would not load any new programs, would lock up and die after about five minutes of trying and finally, after about three hours of fiddling and attempted restarts and all the usual stuff one does to try to concinve the system to play nice...something inside it went phutz and the keyboard and mouse no longer interacted with the system, nor was the opening screen all-the-way loading.
So we got to have some more arguments with Dell, who *finally* and with somewhat poor grace came and honoured their committment on the service/replacement warranty (I was not going to pay the $70 to send it back to the base for them. I just suspended the credit-card payment and said "It is right here, please come and collect it anytime you wish to get paid"). Strangely enough they resolved their policies within about 30 hours and a nice courier turned up for it.

Sure enough, it had major hardware issues straight out of the box, had been built incorrectly. So I got told they would happily ship us a new one in only 4-6 weeks. I said thank you very much, but I am buying a Toshiba.

So now I have a Dell desktop I am mostly happy with, and a second-hand fully reconditioned ultra-tough toshiba with a full 2 year warranty that cost less then the Dell would have and has considerably more features as well as being essentially bullet-proof and with all its internals already "burnt in" for 10 motnhs it belonged to some governement department or other. I think I trust it more then this desktop I am typing on.


fer@fer 12-18-2004 06:40 PM

GPS & Computer
HO HO, Hello Mr. Cap''t Rich. HO HO

BTW, has anybody ever considered a standard desktop computer, with a flat screen. I have just bought a MSI desk computer, big as a shoe box, with a laptop motherboard. All the rest is standard desktop equipment vgr DVD-w, Flash, Memories, keyboard, flat screen, etc. I carry a ready bootable spare HD .

I am still in a process to get a 12v supply in exchange for the standard AC 110v.

I got fed up of spending in laps, which replacement cost of spares are 3 times the desktop ones.

However I visited the Global Challenge boats, which are all equipped with two Sony Vaios. Up to now, after almost 10,000 miles in turbulent drink, I still continue to receive e mails from the boat. Besides that, those guys dont have budget restrictions at all.

Have a nice research for the Holydays, and mM Xmas for U all


WHOOSH 12-19-2004 12:15 AM

GPS & Computer

"BTW, has anybody ever considered a standard desktop computer, with a flat screen."

These days it''s not uncommon to find desktop systems being used on both sailboats and powerboats. For those of us who take boats longer distances, the issues seem to be adequate ventilation (vs. the little cubby where the unit tends to be mounted), the salt-laden air that will be constantly pumped thru the the unit and across all the boards (laptop fans push much smaller volumes of air and so contamination is less), and the total power requirement demanded by the machine vs. the power budget that exists on the boat. Or at least those are the issues that I am mulling over.


GordMay 12-19-2004 12:45 AM

GPS & Computer
Re: Laptop Failures “right out of the box”.
Many years ago (early 60''s), when I was studying Electronic Communication, our instructor was asked “what Television Set he would recommend”.
He answered “the one you like - that very one”. He meant to say, do not accept one just like the one you viewed, but still in the box - demand the “demonstrator” model, that you compared to others. The reasoning is obvious, and might well apply to “Laptops” (etc.) today.

GordMay 12-19-2004 02:05 AM

GPS & Computer
Re: Computer Air Filtration
I have no idea what the nature of salt-laden air is (aerosol, solute, whatever), no how, or if, you could effectively filter it.

Can anyone enlighten us?

Notwithstanding, it seems, to me, that it should be much simpler to pre-filter a Desktop than a Laptop.
Here’s a cheap/simple “industrial application” solution to computer filtration:
"Air Filter for a Clean Computer" - Jeff Cameron - 6/5/03


WHOOSH 12-19-2004 03:28 AM

GPS & Computer
Gord and the group:

"I have no idea what the nature of salt-laden air is (aerosol, solute, whatever), no how, or if, you could effectively filter it."

A bit more on this: I was referring to the inherent presence of salt in the ''sea fog'' that surrounds boats at times, especially in rough conditions and/or warmer climates when the finite amount of moisture the air is able to contain (along with its contaminants) increases significantly. A small yacht at sea can''t escape this, and I suspect (just my reasoning here...) that filtration systems won''t solve the problem without severely restricting the ventilation of the computer boards and/or becoming increasingly complex. Moreover, moving to more complex ventilation systems (such as the nifty exhibit you referenced) just increases complexity, space and cost, taking us in a direction opposite from the goal of replacing a laptop with a desktop in the first place.

It is a bit of a conundrum in my mind. But one thing I like about desktop installations is the ability to spray all the boards, connector slots, etc. with a conductive preservative of some kind. That would help to combat the effects of the salty environment on the computer, I would think.

It would seem that one of the real long-term benefits of moving to a desktop unit - especially for longer term, offshore voyaging in small yachts - is that you can now replace the most vulnerable, failure prone peripherals at relatively low cost and usually with relative ease. As an example of this, I''ve had to deal with two keyboard replacements on laptops; what a joy it would be to just replace a $20 keyboard. Similarly, I''ve watched multiple crews struggle with LCD screen problems on laptops once the screen-to-laptop connector/cable link fails; it appears there''s no real cost effective solution to this. Meanwhile, our flat screen screen (used for DVDs) cost only a bit more than $200 USD and is larger to boot.

Giving the desktop unit a good home (ventilation, protection from moisture, shock-absorption, easy access to ports & slots, etc.) and using easily replaced peripherals at the nav station seems like the way to go...but I lack real-world experience with this option to date, and I haven''t found this too often on smaller offshore boats (which makes me wonder a bit...).

Now that I think about this, it''s worthy of a thread of its own on a relevant BB or two.


nauticalrich 12-20-2004 05:52 AM

GPS & Computer
Hey Maestro

I had my Oday equiped with a super fast, high memory, super sofisticated, High tech, (and I mean High) and then I turned 60.


Cap''t Rich

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