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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sure this is covered somewhere but haven't found anything recent.

It's time to replace the laptop and I'm looking for thoughts on a Windows laptop something that's reasonably tough, bright with good battery life. We run Rose Point Coastal Explorer and other normal Windows programs.

Also any thoughts on a good DC - DC converter options so we don't use the inverter.
 

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The MS Surface works if you put a case on it.. Another bonus is it will run directly from 12V power without a converter(just a $12 cable from ebay).

These days I think you are better off with a tablet (or tablet like) device as they are much better on power. Windows 8 is actually usable with all the service packs.
 

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Did you see the Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet? See the review at CNET;
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet review - CNET

It's water proof! Lower in cost and looks good.

NOTE *** I DO NOT HAVE ONE! Just looking at it.

Greg
 

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Buy a MacBook Air and run Windows on it. There’s hardly anything out there right now that touches it on battery life, especially in its weight class. The build quality and customer support are top notch and its trackpad is excellent. If you’re taking it on and off the boat its portability is great too. Spec for spec they’re really not any more expensive than a comparable PC anymore either. A DC-DC adapter can be purchased from Marinebeam.

I say this as longtime PC person and as someone who can see the potential of the Windows 8 concept of a unified desktop and mobile OS while others have bashed it undeservedly. I just haven’t been very impressed by hardware coming from PC manufacturers lately as there seems to be, at best, significant inconsistency in build quality, reliability, and customer support. The user serviceability and upgradability advantages of PC laptops are quickly becoming things of the past as well.

The Windows laptop/tablet hybrids are interesting but get mixed reviews largely over hardware and build quality annoyances. I’m not sold on the hybrid concept anyway. Although they’re lighter than most laptops, they’re heavier/bulkier than tablets. I wouldn’t ever use one in tablet mode except in a pinch. It seems like kind of a gimmick to sell an expensive laptop to someone who otherwise would have bought one each of a laptop and tablet.

A pure (non-hybrid) tablet makes a good boat computer if you can either live within its limitations or use it as a supplement to a laptop. For chartplotting and instrumentation, a tablet is great due to its portability and low power consumption. It’s also great for weather, music, movies, light e-mail, and light web surfing. Most tablets will become frustrating if you want to do real word processing, spreadsheets, photo manipulation, web editing, or even surfing the web with multiple tabs open at once.
 

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Buy a MacBook Air and run Windows on it. There's hardly anything out there right now that touches it on battery life, especially in its weight class. The build quality and customer support are top notch and its trackpad is excellent. If you're taking it on and off the boat its portability is great too. Spec for spec they're really not any more expensive than a comparable PC anymore either. A DC-DC adapter can be purchased from Marinebeam.

I say this as longtime PC person and as someone who can see the potential of the Windows 8 concept of a unified desktop and mobile OS while others have bashed it undeservedly. I just haven't been very impressed by hardware coming from PC manufacturers lately as there seems to be, at best, significant inconsistency in build quality, reliability, and customer support. The user serviceability and upgradability advantages of PC laptops are quickly becoming things of the past as well.

The Windows laptop/tablet hybrids are interesting but get mixed reviews largely over hardware and build quality annoyances. I'm not sold on the hybrid concept anyway. Although they're lighter than most laptops, they're heavier/bulkier than tablets. I wouldn't ever use one in tablet mode except in a pinch. It seems like kind of a gimmick to sell an expensive laptop to someone who otherwise would have bought one each of a laptop and tablet.

A pure (non-hybrid) tablet makes a good boat computer if you can either live within its limitations or use it as a supplement to a laptop. For chartplotting and instrumentation, a tablet is great due to its portability and low power consumption. It's also great for weather, music, movies, light e-mail, and light web surfing. Most tablets will become frustrating if you want to do real word processing, spreadsheets, photo manipulation, web editing, or even surfing the web with multiple tabs open at once.
I highly suggest you do an extended demo on a Microsoft Surface.. The latest Surface has none of the drawbacks you mention above and it truly usable in both laptop and tablet mode. I'm sure you will be impressed with it.. I would not have believed MS could make such a polished device until I played with one.

The latest Surface also has better real world power consumption when compared with a Macbook Air running Windows. Just do a quick google search on power consumption of both devices. Many tests done by users in the real world. Not to mention double the performance when required.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Went for a preliminary shopping trip today and spent a while with the MS Surface. Very interesting but you need the Surface Pro to run full Windows which I need for Coastal Explorer. By the time you add a keyboard, USB hub etc. it's pretty pricey. Also not sure how the bracket that supports the screen would hold up.

However comments about other laptops and cheesey build quality are accurate. Lots of plastic that seems one good bounce from disaster. The Mac running windows may be an answer but having spent a little time on a mac I'd rather find a PC solution if possible. Will look around more but appreciate any other thoughts.

thanks
 

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Standard Dell Inspirion with windows 7 pro. Mine is a 17 inch, wife's is 15.
I run a Dell Notebook (10 inch) for my charting, it's also running windows 7 pro. If it gets wet below decks I have bigger issues than the loss of a notebook pc. Since I'm on a center cockpit the same is essentially true if I bring it up to the cockpit.

All of my PC's/laptops on board (a total of 7, I know, I know some are for work and I work from home/aboard) and tablets (2) can sling to the 24 inch TV (smart tv with a network connection) including my laptop.
 

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"Lots of plastic that seems one good bounce from disaster."
There are some PC lines that are designed to be more rugged in laptops. I think that's HP's EliteBook line (hard to find retail) and there's one other major brand I can't remember, similar claims for "stronger case and hinges" than the usual. Then there's the king of the pack, Panasonic Toughbooks. Pricey, but designed for field use by commercial users. They made ToughPads as well.
Of course at those prices, you can buy 3 "consumer" machines and just keep two as hot spares down below.
 

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Depending on your needs, a MacBook Pro is a lot more powerful than an air and these days it's barely bigger or heavier. Barely uses any power. Charges at 60w for two hours and lasts for 9-11 hours.

Or you could for the ipad route which takes 12w and 3-4 hours to charge and lasts forever. Most of the people that go mac stay with them. Sure everyone complains they are overpriced but I think you get what you pay for. Is this ipad has issues today or breaks, outside of water damage I just take it to the apple store and hand it to them and they give me a new one. No receipt needed, didn't have to have bought it front the apple store originally. Just hand it to them they hand you a new one.

Plus retina display is just plain beautiful. Before I left I was doing some photo stuff and had my macbook setup next to my moms hp. I pulled the same photos I took up and the difference was astounding. You have to see them new to each other to really appreciate how your photos just "glow".

I rarely recommend a brand or product. It's that good.
 

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heres a vote for panasonic toughbooks. had one for a year before sailing from Chesapeake Bay to the Caribe and back again. It was still working fine when somebody stole it a few months after I got back. Now I have another one that i got after the cheapie died on the way to Bermuda last year. Really good computers - expensive but you get what you pay for
 

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I went the inexpensive highly compact route. I have a Lenovo Miix2 8" tablet. They can be found for as little as $200, and have a GPS built in (contrary to the dimwits who claim it does not have one). Extremely bright, daylight viewable display. I bought matte-finish screen protectors to knock out the glare ($6). I bought a RAM mount for viewing in the cockpit, with a second mounting ball for down below ($30). It runs off of USB power, so I have a 12v adapter that inserts at my binnacle. I bought a Travelon E-Reader pouch for when the cockpit gets wet ($12). You can't plug it in when it's in the pouch, but its battery lasts 8-12 hours depending on power settings. I bought Bluetooth mouse and keyboard for when I need to use it like a laptop ($30).

I liked it so much that I bought a second one for around the house. I take the second one with me on long boat trips in case in case the battery goes dead. My nav software runs off of a microSD card, so I just pull it out of one tablet and insert it in the other one.

The Miix2 8" may not be the right one for you, but it's worth considering if you want a lower cost alternative. It fits my needs perfectly, and has become my primary chartplotter device (running OpenCPN).

Amazon.com : Lenovo IdeaTab Miix2 8-Inch 32 GB Tablet : Tablet Computers : Computers & [email protected]@[email protected]@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/[email protected]@[email protected]@41qYYltPg8L
 

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Here's my Omni 10.8 (also $200) running opencpn and repeating instru data from the raspberry pi down below:

Any chance of geting some more details on this setup?
What os does the Rasperry pi run? What data does the Raspberry pi collect, how does it collect it and how does it feed that data to the cockpit computer ?
 

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what i have found over my 3 1/2 years out of usa and in a nuce alleged 3rd world nation---
my chromebook by sm=amsung, 300 usd, a gift froma dear friend i never met, is only puter i have owned andbeen able to operate fro the entire length of time owned...lol funny aabout that.
u started with an acer netbook and compaq laptop. the compaq is now in zihuatenejo, parted out. the acer died a long slow miserable death from first, water on mother board...lasted 3 years aftr tht.. go figger..... was drowned iin a surf landing in la cruz de huanacaxtle...lol
and so i go to pawn shops, buy th ecutest cheapest lil netbook i can find. i now have an acer and a hp netbook, each is functioning well. they supplement the chrome book, as chromebook doesnt accept banda ancha, as it is based on linux, and usa, i cannot change that.
the 2 netbooks are windows based and easy to use, as it is windows 7 i prefer. one is somewhat designated for wifi amplification and routing, the other is designated for banda ancha, aka 3g dial up service.\
all i use here is a pawn shop for pricing, and a it guy to wipe it clean and start over with what i want, not what is included in a purchase package.
works well this way.
as most laptops only last a couple of years out here in salt-air-villle, why spend so much on one allegedly able to tolerate these conditions, when these are so inexpensive. it will just drown on your first surf landing anyway...lol
 

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Any chance of geting some more details on this setup?
What os does the Rasperry pi run? What data does the Raspberry pi collect, how does it collect it and how does it feed that data to the cockpit computer ?
Hi,

I have a thread on sailnet about where htis project is going. Eventually, I want to get engine sensors to be put on the data stream too....Arduino based.

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/electronics/150482-arduino-raspberry-pi-based-instrumentation.html

Without hijacking this thread, here is what I did. I got kplex (google it). I followed instructions on the kplex site to setup a nmea repeater. I also had my pi configured as a wireless access point by running hostapd and a dhcp server. Again, stripydog site has instructions on this.

My instruments provide an RS232 output through via the Seatalk/Nmea interface box. I connected up a Serial/US converter to that. THe Raspberry Pi has a powered USB (very important) hub attached to it. The Pi runs standard Raspbian (debian based linux distro). Hostapd and dhcp were setup to run on start, and kplex is running as a service that also runs on start.

I have some issues though. Randomly, my nmea data stream gets corrupted and the checksums effectively filter out all the data. Working on figuring that out. I suspect its my el-cheap serial/usb cables...so I've ordered a couple of new ones based on the FTDI chipset rather than PL2303 chipset. People have better luck with that.
 

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I have some issues though. Randomly, my nmea data stream gets corrupted and the checksums effectively filter out all the data. Working on figuring that out. I suspect its my el-cheap serial/usb cables...so I've ordered a couple of new ones based on the FTDI chipset rather than PL2303 chipset. People have better luck with that.
Is your Seatalk/NMEA converter the Raymarine 85001? They can be very flaky.
 
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