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Communications Connecting - internet cafes, laptops, Palm devices, cell phones - how to connect, use, which one, and Bike to Bike and passenger intercoms.
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  #1  
Old 2 Oct 2003
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packing the laptop....

Should I pack my laptop vertically in one of my saddlebags, or horizontally in the trunk? I plan on wrapping it in foam at least an inch thick and putting soft things, like clothing around it. Does this sound like a good plan/ Or am I going to destroy it?
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  #2  
Old 3 Oct 2003
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We pack ours vertically in the pannier on the inside wall, sitting on 1/2 inch shock absorbing foam, back of it against 1/8 inch s.a.f. Then toss whatever in on top. Never had a failure en route, including rtw with one laptop. Toshiba, not a clone. ymmv.

Laptops are fragile, but assuming you're not going motocrossing with it, the shocks aren't that huge. We've never had a problem,and most people don't. Main problem is hard drive failure - due to shocks and vibration, but it's not common. Back up your data.

We've had 5 Toshiba laptops since 1986, and all have been brilliant. One charger failure in 86, and one hard drive failure in 1999 total problems.

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  #3  
Old 4 Oct 2003
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Good choice, Toshiba makes the best portable hard drives out there. They have the highest shock rating on 2.5" drives.

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  #4  
Old 12 Nov 2003
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I use an IBM ThinkPad, and carry it vertically in a saddlebag. Never had any problems, other than a few parts vibrating loose after riding on Irish roads. IBM in Dublin repaired it free of charge.

Some suggestions:

1) Get a list of worldwide service depots for your laptop BEFORE you set out - and print the list on paper, so you can refer to it if the laptop pooches out.

2) Don't bother with special packing material for the laptop, you can pad around it with clothes.

3) Get the physically smallest laptop you can buy. You would be amazed at how much space a 'full size' laptop takes up, compared to an ultralight model.

4) CD-ROM drives are very sensitive to g-forces, my experience is that they don't travel well on motorcycles.

PanEuropean
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  #5  
Old 13 Nov 2003
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RE PanEuropean's comment 2) this may or may not work for you - on ours, the exhaust is on the left - therefore the left saddlebag is very warm, the right stone cold. So the clothes are on the left, the laptop and film and med kit is on the right, none of which is great for padding. So we use special foam as noted above to protect the laptop. The foam takes up very little space and does a great job. I also find that wrapping stuff with clothes, and any other complicated packing methods are a pain. I keep it very simple. ALl gear is in a stuff sack or padded bag as needed, and it all just gets stuffed in. ymmv......

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  #6  
Old 15 Nov 2003
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Good point, Grant. On my motorcycle, the exhausts are under the saddlebags, and exhaust heat never seems to affect either saddlebag.

What I was trying to say is that (IMHO) we carry sufficient clothing, underwear, socks, etc. with us that we can make this stuff do double-duty as computer padding - thus eliminating the need to carry additional, bulky, purpose-specific computer padding.
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  #7  
Old 29 Feb 2004
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The comments are encouraging me to take my laptop on the road. But, what kind of roads are you all talking about. I'm about to travel Brazil for a year and wondering if jungle roads will bang the laptop around too much...

any suggestions most appreciated.
thank, Chris
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  #8  
Old 29 Feb 2004
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The humidity may be more of a problem than the shock loads. Main thing is to keep it dry.

As noted, the shock loads aren't that high - if they were, you'd know it!

Ours had hundreds of miles of EXTREMELY bad corrugated road, on two separate continents, so bad that I was getting blurred vision and could barely hang on to the much expanded handlebars. Smoothest at 70mph, still very bad - but no problem. ymmv!

Consider a toughened laptop such as the Panasonic Toughbooks.

Also PanEuropeans comments about cd-rom drives are I think correct. Fragile beasties. Also small is good. Our laptop has always been a sub-notebook, around 2 kg, not a full-sized laptop. Half the weight, which I think makes a difference in the shock loads. It won't stress the shock absorption system, whatever it is, as much as a heavier laptop.

Reasons I dislike using clothes for wrapping/protecting laptops:

Customs guys dig through the stuff at the top if they are interested, and we have lots of small stuff above the laptop - they lose interest before they get that deep. Of course I know people that wrap laptops and cameras in her dirty laundry. Embarrasses and repels customs guys nicely.

Also, every time I want to change clothes, I don't want to have to fiddle with the laptop - I'm lazy and like efficient methods - one thing, one bag, less hassle, no need to be fussy wrapping clothes just so in order to protect the laptop. Also, we don't carry enough clothes to do a decent job of protecting the laptop!

What works for us doesn't work for someone else - PanEuro has a different method which works well for him and he's happy with it.

Finally, think about whether you really NEED a laptop. There's a lot of internet cafes out there, even the smallest towns have them. A Palm or small / big PDA can do a lot these days.

Good luck whatever, and be sure to keep us posted on your trip, I'm sure lots of people will be interested in a story about a year in a Brazil. See the Travellers Stories page for info on how you can have a blog here for free.

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Grant Johnson

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  #9  
Old 4 Mar 2004
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I would suggest also having one of those 256MB memory stick things that stick in the USB port.

Tiny, indestructible, v.cheap and you can plug into pretty much any computer from 2000 onwards...

Just an idea!

Sam.
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  #10  
Old 4 Mar 2004
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Panasonic toughbooks are good, I had a w2 before it was nicked in Santa Cruz - then bought a Fujitsu lifebook 5020d. Ace little machine, tough little cookie - and v small so can fit in tank bag - usefull as I take that bag EVERYWHERE - but its a pain on the shoulder sometimes when wondering around town, esp when you screw your neck up like I did the other day....just by drying my hair, not too herioc.

I digress, DO insure the notebook - I spent an extra $100 doing this, and just got my insurance cheque through for my stolen notebook. DONT put it in a GIVI box as mine was stolen (or it fell off - still dont know what happend).

Cheers mate, and yes, do consider if you really need one. Cant belive how many net cafe's are out there in Mexico for example. Every tiny dustbowl of a town seems to have a net presence these days!

Cheers,

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  #11  
Old 9 Jul 2004
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Keeping the laptop dry?

I'm leaving soon for interior Venezuela and Brazil and am sure to hit lots of rain and humidity. On a recent test run, noticed lots of condensation inside the boxes. I was planning on wrapping the laptop in freezer bags, then have padding and styrofoam to protect it.

Anyone already solve this problem?
thanks, Chris
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  #12  
Old 6 Feb 2005
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The quick change of temperature, as going into a dry hotel room from having been out surrounded by heavily humidified air will condense humidity from the air you packed the laptop in.
Buy humidity absorbers, in professional photographer stores you´ll find them for example.
Pack laptop in an air proof material, and put some absorbers with it.
In south America you´ll need some !

Worst is hotel air condition!
avoid!

Matt
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