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RAGNAR 02-26-2007 05:27 PM

Which Laptops Has Survived Life Onboard?
I need a new laptop.


Which models have proven themselves onboard liveaborads and diehard cruising enviros?

Are Panasonic's Toughbooks worth the price?

Any Apple laptops making it on the high seas?


toddrtownsend 02-26-2007 05:42 PM

I've not used one, but have heard good things about the Tough Books. There are typically some older ones on eBay. You could run Linux and get a lot of use out of an older one. You'd have to check the programs and interfaces you'd want to use. Ham/SSB should not be a problem.

You've chosen your name well Mr. Danneskjold. :o)


RAGNAR 02-26-2007 05:53 PM


Thanks for the info.

Ragnar is The pirate.


PBzeer 02-26-2007 05:59 PM

I've got a Toshiba Satellite that has worked well for the past year. It has the 17" wide screen, so it's my movie theater as well.

Guess I don't have to ask, "Who is John Galt?", eh?

RAGNAR 02-26-2007 06:08 PM


Originally Posted by PBzeer
Guess I don't have to ask, "Who is John Galt?", eh?

If only!


sailingdog 02-26-2007 06:14 PM

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. :D

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. :D

sawfish 02-27-2007 08:03 PM

The ToughBook 19 and 30 will provide you the most protection if the laptop will be out of the cabin. Protection in the form of corrosion and oxidation resistance of the motherboard. Sea air is brutal on PC components, especially laptops (somebody open theirs up to view this oxidation on the copper components if you're feeling adventurous).

These 2 models are really the only 2 that have a moisture barrier, sort of like a sealed gasket. But, even that isn't totally waterproof. The 30 has much better daylight "readability". Both are GPS capable. Both have good shockability. I've dropped both from waist height and both kept on tickin'. AND It WILL be forgotten to be put away and will slide off your nav table despite it's non-skid coating--absolutely count on that.

Find some to play with in your area to see for yourself the difference. Have a knowlegeable salesperson open one up along with any other brand to see the differences in the inside. That is why they are more expensive.

Expect to pay $3,500.00 on up and worth every penny.

camaraderie 02-27-2007 08:32 PM

I think paying for a toughbook that will NOT be used in the cockpit for navigation is a waste of money personally. I had two Toshibas while out cruising. One died when I left it unsecured while crossing the gulf stream...duh. The other gave up when the screen went bad after 3 years of use. Presently using an HP with 19" screen (love it!)...the total price for all three was about $1000 less than a single Toughbook 30 and if I had bought one 6 years ago and it still was working, it would be an antique today. I do have a backup USB hard drive so I don't lose any important stuff in a crash. But you can get a heck of a nice laptop these days for well under $1k and if you get 3 years out of it on board...then you probably are lusting for something new anyway!!
Toughbooks are great if you really need the rugged/waterproof/daylight capable screen....but if not, get a "throwaway" and back it up and you'll be ahead of the game financially and feature wise.

hellosailor 02-27-2007 10:57 PM

When someone treats a laptop like a breaks. Especially because the cases and hinges are way more delicate than they should be and the little knocks add up and wind up cracking the cases two years down the line, and then once the cracks start everything seems to go.

Personally I try to treat my laptop like a sheet of glass, and even then the wear catches up. If I was doing it again for the long term I'd give serious thought to the Toughbooks that are "armored" (they aren't all) because gel-mounted hard drives and rubber corner bumpers CAN help protect it. It might be cheaper to buy a cheaper laptop and just replace it twice as often, but that also depend on how many hours (days?) you'll need to spend reinstalling software and user preferences. To me, THAT'S the real price of replacing a laptop, the time it will take to prep the new one.

A lot of vendors (from Dell, who I call Dell Hell, to Lenovo, who bought out IBM) will offer you a 4-year total "bump drop and splash" warranty on a laptop and that's also a good way to invest in protection. From the maker, these extended warranties are often only $300 or so to extend the basic warranty out to 4 years of total protection, although many stores will try to sell you a third-party warranty that does less for a higher price. (They're trying to make profits--by cheating the customer.)

If your laptop is not mission critical, and you won't mind taking three days off to reload software and set it up all means, cheap and and replace it every 18 months instead.

And meanwhile, treating it like glass instead of luggage, helps them all.

yotphix 02-27-2007 11:39 PM

I came across a neat thread on another forum recently on the topic of miniature pcs on board and the consensus seemed to be that you could put one together, including monitor for less than 1000 us dollars that will outperform a laptop, and can be securely mounted in dry places. They also run on 12v. I'm not sure if it is appropriate to post links to other sailing forums though, or if anyone is interested!

This is the general idea though.

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