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  #1  
Old 17 Nov 2005
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Which laptop should we take

Hi

We are 4wd across asia next year and would like to take a laptop.
I dont know alot about laptops and have a budget of £300. We would like to word process and down load our photos then burn them to cd or dvd. There are so many out there and the chose is baffling. So recomendations on make model and specification would be smashing

Thanks
Tim
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  #2  
Old 17 Nov 2005
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I just bought a Dell Inspiron 2200 from the Dell website. It was £399 and seems pretty good. It is not the fastest machine in the world but fast enough to run Photoshop Elements and fiddle with pix. Its got 40GB of memory on the hard drive and 256MB of RAM. It's also got a CD burner and a DVD drive (but it doesn't write DVDs). Dell's have a good reputation so I'm hopeful it will survive bouncing up and down in a pannier for a year. As it was £400 it won't be a total disaster if it goes toes up/gets nicked. (I just had a MAC worth £800 die after just over a years use, here's a tip: don't buy a MAC, expensive trendy sh*t, all hard wired so expensive and difficult to fix and and APPLE customer service really couldn't have cared less) I must say I didn't see any new laptops available for £300 but you might get something second hand which will fit the bill.
Matt

[This message has been edited by Matt Cartney (edited 17 November 2005).]
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  #3  
Old 17 Nov 2005
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I’m a real technophile and love gadgets!
When I started researching laptops for my trips I came to the conclusion that it will probably break down or get stolen somewhere down the line.

As much as I hate to admit it – buying second hand would be the better option. That amazing Sony or Toshiba with all the bells and whistles will only cost money that could have been better applied elsewhere.

IBM machines are not terribly attractive but they are reasonably tough. Make sure you have plenty Hard drive space 40Gb minimum (for all the pictures) and a cd/dvd burner (mail the discs home whenever you can).
Weight is obviously not an issue for you but ask around for a laptop that won’t get too hot (they become unstable when they do) and good battery life (3hours is not good enough!)

Cyril
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  #4  
Old 18 Nov 2005
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Buy a brand that has service centres in all the countries you plan on visiting. Our Averatec broke in Sweden, but there are only service centres in Germany, France and GB. Exit laptop...

Desktop PCs can be repaired anywhere with standard parts. Laptops don't use standard parts, apart from memory, HD and CPU.
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  #5  
Old 18 Nov 2005
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IBM Thinkpad.

I had a really old 600E and bounced it all over South America, would still have been working today if I had'nt got pissed and left it outside the tent one night. It rained.

I've now got an IBM T23, another old & cheap one. Does everything that I need, has all the things you mention and its a rugged little beast.

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  #6  
Old 20 Nov 2005
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thanksfor the help chaps i reckon ill go for the ibm sounds favourite
Any more commentsin the mean time would be great

tim
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  #7  
Old 20 Nov 2005
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I would not touch a Dell as my one has been nothing but problematic, had 2 hard disks, I have rebuilt it more times than I can remember, the support is beyond a joke and read your warranty very carefully to ensure that you have worldwide cover.

cheers

Julio

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  #8  
Old 21 Nov 2005
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I've been bounching my IBM T40 around for nearly 18 months without any hassles. It takes the beating and just keeps ging on. Amazing stuff...
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  #9  
Old 21 Nov 2005
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IBM thinkpads with the centrino chipset are ugly, but as tough as they come, and with a nice battery capacity. Their harddrives also have a technology which gives protection to the drive if you should happen to drop it (sensors recognise the drop and stops the drive from spinning). Further, the think pads are thoroughly tested before released. And, they don't use the latest of the latest of the top of the notch hardware, meaning that most teething problems will not be an issue.

One thing you must take into concideration when buying second hand is that if the laptop is much more than a year or two old, chances are that your battery is either shot or on the brink of dying. Batteries are expensive and difficult to come by (unless you make your own). The only reason to buy second hand is a limited budget, like yours. Hence, battery capacity should not be a requirement. Remember that in general, most of the cheapest brand new PC's will outperform most used ones in the same price range (as well as many of the more expensive used ones). A used pc should therefore cost much less than the cheapest brand new one you can find, lets say half the price. A rule of thumb for PC's are that they loose 30% of their value each year, being close to obsolete its fourth year (unless your requirements are very limited).

For your needs, if you choose to go for a new one, I'd go for the most inexpensive one, if not, I'd look for a thinkpad (preferably with a centrino chip set). Remember, virtually any PC with a CD burner will cover your needs, making reliability and price the only issue.

Another option is to do like me, build your own. I wanted top of the notch everything but didn't want to get broke getting one, so I bought a barebone laptop, all the parts, and built it myself.

I also have a brand new think pad (a pretty good one), a two year old Fujitsu Siemens (Reliable, inexpensive and strong - but noicy and a poor battery), and a Dell (Hell). The previous two were Toshiba and Compac (both fairly unreliable). I've owned lots of others, and worked with even more. My personal experience is as follows:

Highest quality, excellent performance and highest reliability: IBM Think Pad

Most value for money: Fujitsu Siemens

Highest performance/money trade off: Self built


Good Luck... and don't worry too much

[This message has been edited by Wheelie (edited 21 November 2005).]
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  #10  
Old 20 Dec 2005
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Hi All

Just an update on my Dell laptop, power supply unit has just blown!!

I'll be looking at the IBM laptops next

Julio
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  #11  
Old 22 Dec 2005
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Then this is the moment to get one of those universal PSU, like the Kingston. Plugs into 12V DC and 100-240V AC.
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  #12  
Old 28 Mar 2006
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Dont take a notebook - too heavy and you will just worry about it.

I took a v small fujistu lifebook with me on a years tour - only for the GPS maps.

For the next trip I'm just taking a 2nd hand palm, a collapsable keyboard and a memory stick that takes the palm memory to a pc.

small, light and cheap - seriously do reconsider taking a pc with you.

Cheers,

Brian

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  #13  
Old 28 Mar 2006
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Someone mentioned the Panasonic CF-27 on another thread a few days ago. It's a rugged device meant for site use and looks perfect for rough travel. They are old technology so only available s/h or reconditioned as far as I can see and probably would struggle to run XP, but OK with Windows 98 or 2000. They've got USB ports, PCMCIA slots so I'd use one in conjunction with a portable hard drive. Should be ideal for GPS use, word processing and storing photos. Google for CF-27 Panasonic they are around £200 reconditioned. I've just bought one myself after hearing about them last week.
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  #14  
Old 24 Apr 2006
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A few thoughts on laptops. On my last trip i purchased an IBM T-23 for $500. The battery was shot and it needed a new CD drive. These parts are available on E-Bay for cheap, and with a PayPal acct., you could probably talk the seller into shipping parts to an un-confirmed adress, like i did when i was in Reno.
If you choose to run a PC, i wouldn't settle for anything less than XP. It works, well, most of the time anyway, and accepts current software. Old operating systems will give you trouble when trying to load new software. PC is easily infected with vermin from the internet, use someone elses computer for surfing and use yours strictly for photo's, movies, GPS, etc... If you run it without anti-virus software, it is remarcably fast! When packing, place it on top wrapped in a shirt or you run the risk of breaking the display when running off-road. The IBM is a great choice and parts are cheap and available. Also, if you damage the harddrive, you can send it to any IBM office in the world where they will most likely retrieve your info, something most computer companies donot offer. You can find IBM in almost every major city in the world.
My laptop survived three months of hell, with dead batteries and a broken screen. It was a great computer...unfortunately it was a PC. I've recently gone the Mac route and sold every PC related item in my house with great satisfaction. Its simple, well build and WORKS over and over again...no more blue screen of death! If it survives my next trip...thats yet to be determined.
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  #15  
Old 24 Apr 2006
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Toughbook

I can second the comment made about the Panasonic Toughbook CF-27.

I bought one of ebay. It indeed struggles with Windows XP, but is fine with 2000. I ran Oziexplorer on a trip, and it worked a treat.

It is a cheap option, and as tough as the name suggests. The batteries as new have enormous capacity, so even as an old used one it gives me more than an hour of runtime (but might have been replaced by previous owner).

Make sure you get one with extra memory, otherwise things might run very slowly indeed.
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