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casey
05-28-2007, 08:10
Couldn't find anything on the old threads, so will post here.

My son got word to us yesterday that the laptop computer he took with him is trashed. Hes requesting we send him over a "toughbook" so it holds up to the pounding it will take in the box. Hes looking for a tough, small, reliable laptop to do just the basics - word, internet, play DVD's etc... I've looked up some of the Panasonic models but want to know if anyone has one they really like.

http://catalog2.panasonic.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ModelDetail?displayTab=O&storeId=11201&catalogId=13051&itemId=100041&catGroupId=12871&surfModel=Toughbook-19

I'm trying to keep it as small and user friendly as I can. Thanks

2018commo
05-28-2007, 09:10
Casey,
I use computers, specifically tablet PCs in the field, stateside, for geospatial data collection. I recently purchased a Gateway over the Panasonic, purely based on the fact that I could buy three of the Gateways for the same expense. When assigned to a CST WMD I used both when operational and never had problems with either. I like the Panny due to the fact that we could remove and store hard drives separate of the computer.
I have not had to deal with the dust associated in the current AO; but I find the Panny a little overpriced especially for equipment presumably for personal use. One of my IT guys tried to talk me into something a little more rugged, and if you like when I get to work tomorrow, I will ask him for his recommendations. My parents used to buy me stuff when I was in SF (like a vibro-flex), without ever thinking of price, so if he needs it obviously go for it.
\r

The Reaper
05-28-2007, 09:45
I agree. IMHO, the Toughbooks are overpriced.

I have been pretty hard on a couple of Dells, the worst thing that ever happened was a hard drive went bad and they overnighted a replacement. A good quality case is probably a better investment.

In addition to the notebook, I would also consider a thumb drive of at least 1 GB with all of this bookmarks, address book, documents, etc. If he takes that with him, he can use any computer he has access to with his info.

Best of luck, hermano.

TR

x-factor
05-28-2007, 11:01
I agree. In my experience Toughbooks are overpriced and underpowered if you want to do anything besides text applications. You're paying extra for a lot of marketing and reputation.

Unless he's actually going to go rucking with it, I wouldn't worry about getting a super ruggedized laptop. Just send him a decent Dell, Gateway, or Sony and make sure its packed good for the shipping. Ideally though, if you know one of his friends/colleagues is heading over soon, you might want to have him hand carry it.

Also, TR is right about the jump drive. Thats one of the handiest things in the world.

Ambush Master
05-28-2007, 11:46
Get a Pelican Case for it!!! That will solve the abuse issue!!

casey
05-28-2007, 12:30
I thought the toughbooks seem to be a tad over priced as well. We had a laptop with all the bells and whistles sent (in pelican case) when he was at Ft Hood, but it didn't make the cut over there. Also storage space is non-existant where he is now, so he wanted smething very small.

Hes your typical 19 y/o whos rough on everything, as his younger brother can attest to. Oh, and did I mention hes going to pay for it? (at least thats what my wife is telling me)

I've already sent him two of those Scandisk 1GB's over - now they are awsome.

Thanks all, I'll look at the Gateway

Hipshot
05-28-2007, 13:09
Get a Pelican Case for it!!! That will solve the abuse issue!!

AM - Thanks for the tip about the cases. I have a reunion that I will be attending and was wanting to ship some computer equipment. Your post about Pelican Case looks like it will be exactly what I was looking for.

Casey - Take a look at this link (http://www.ruggednotebooks.com/press.asp) on ruggedized laptops. One consideration in the selection would be for temperature variations. If he's currently in the sand box, it's just starting to get hot over there. If he's at a COP, he may not have climate control to keep the electronics cool while he's away, or when he has it turned on. Heat (internal and external) will cook a laptop in nothing flat. :cool:

casey
05-28-2007, 16:44
Casey - Take a look at this link (http://www.ruggednotebooks.com/press.asp) on ruggedized laptops. One consideration in the selection would be for temperature variations. If he's currently in the sand box, it's just starting to get hot over there. If he's at a COP, he may not have climate control to keep the electronics cool while he's away, or when he has it turned on. Heat (internal and external) will cook a laptop in nothing flat. :cool:[/QUOTE]


Thanks brother. I've emailed two places thus far in regards to heat and lack of info on their specs. Hes got zero climate controls.

Ret10Echo
05-29-2007, 05:59
We are currently making a buy for P-sonics at work. There is definately a tradeoff between convetional and "rugged" systems. The Semi and Business Rugged versions are cheaper, but basically provide only a shock-mounted hard drive and maybe a daylight-readable screen.
We went with the Panasoic because of the daylight-readable screen, water -resistant backlit keyboard and we wanted a touch-screen capability. It isn't intended to watch movies on, but the 13.3" screen is bigger than some of the even more "rugged" versions.

My .02

This link from Linux provides some interesting information if you are in the decision-making mode.


http://www.linux-on-laptops.com/rugged-laptop.html

Dust resistance: Air vent system for cooling tends to a collector of dust particles from ambiance. Toughbook CF-W5 and CF-T5 models do not employ an air vent system, thereby preventing dust and dirt particles from infiltrating the inside of the notebook - instead CPU heat is released through the casing.


Extreme temperature exposure: How well does the computer perform while being exposed to very high or very low temperature? E.g. The Itronix (acquired by General Dynamics in September 2005) GoBook III laptop can operate under following temperature range: -23 to 60 C (-10 to 140 F) - for cold temperatures they do require purchase of an optional hard drive heater. By contrast a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop can operate in the temperature range of -32 to 104 F. The ML910 Rugged Notebook from Motorola (introduced in March 2007) includes as a standard feature a hard drive heater for startup and operation in freezing temperatures and also has diagnostic software that monitors internal conditions and prevents outages due to extreme heat and cold.

Ambush Master
05-29-2007, 11:58
Check out this old thread:

http://www.professionalsoldiers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=12274&highlight=pelican

Maytime
05-29-2007, 22:34
Back when I was a helpdesk hermit for the CoE in AK, we had about a dozen Toughbooks for our resident O-4 and his team to bring to the field and drop kick or whatever they do with them. They held up pretty well to inclement cold weather, but I cannot attest to hot weather. Most the components were GTG, but we always had issues with the touchscreen failing and various driver issues. Once we upgraded all of them to Windows XP Pro (from 2000), the driver problems went away.

IMO, they were too slow to be real entertainment machines, but one could get away with watching a DVD or play any of the MS games on there already with no trouble.

$0.02

Ret10Echo
05-30-2007, 06:00
Cold weather was a pretty simple work-around for us. I used hand-warmer packs to keep the system from freezing up. The heat generated was actually a plus. Only issue we had was when one of the systems got "bent" by some over-torqued ruck straps. There was a diagonal fold across the screen that only provided two viewable areas in the top left and bottom right corners. Enough to get the job done.

In a high temperature environment I would think processor selection would be key. I am outside my area so this is a SWAG, but I would assume certain lower-speed processors would generate less heat, and having one that does not require a fan would also help with the dust and power consumption.

If it isn't intended to be a gaming system then that is ok, and a portable DVD player is a heck of a lot less expensive to just watch movies.

x-factor
05-30-2007, 18:00
In a high temperature environment I would think processor selection would be key. I am outside my area so this is a SWAG, but I would assume certain lower-speed processors would generate less heat, and having one that does not require a fan would also help with the dust and power consumption.

You're on the money. Computers generate heat as the electrons move around, so faster processor = more tiny transistors = more computations = more electrons in motion = more heat. I'm most computers have heat sinks and/or fans to dispel heat, but you're right that the more powerful ones (gaming machines, servers, etc) have a more/larger fans and so will take in more dust.

My operating profile is a little different from the QPs, but my biggest problem with computers in the field is dust, not temperature. You might want to ship your boy one of those compressed air cleaner can things (any computer or office supply store) to go with his new toy.

Casey...what exactly do you want your boy to be able to do with his computer? Internet? Movies? Media? Games (if so, which games is he into?)?

casey
05-30-2007, 18:18
Casey...what exactly do you want your boy to be able to do with his computer? Internet? Movies? Media? Games (if so, which games is he into?)?


What he wants is a compact, tough computer that is capable of internet, DVD playing, and he can play "some" games on. I've only sent one email to him in regards to how much it cost, the limited use he'll get out of it etc.... fact is hes young and had been in the shit over there since Oct. so whatever he wants - I'm going to send.

I'm just trying to get a handle on which one works best in heat and can take a beating. He a bit of a cro-mangum man with gear....gets it from his Mothers side. Again - thanks.

x-factor
05-30-2007, 21:26
My recommendation is a Dell E1505.

http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/inspn_e1505?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs

Its not a gaming hot rod, but it will be strong enough to run pretty much whatever he wants (movies, games, etc) and the screen is big enough (15.4 inches) that its not a pain in the eyes. It'll be preloaded with all the new Microsoft applications so there's no fuss there. I would also order it with a bigger hard drive so there's room for whatever files he wants to collect (movies, pics, music...if he's like most deployed guys, porn) and he doesn't have to drag around extra storage peripherals or discs. Its also comes with wireless internet.

Dell's are built what they call "Road Ready," which isn't milspec but its durable, so it should be fine for his personal needs (ie as long as he doesn't take it into combat, but why would he?). And if you're still nervous about it you can get a Pelican case to ship it in. If worse comes to worse, Dell has a pretty good customer service record too.

I'm actually suprised at how affordable it is too. You should be able to get everything you want for under a grand after the mail-in rebate.

Hope that helps.

Oh, one more thing...if your son wants a copy of Battlefield 2 and the Special Forces expansion pack (ah, irony), just PM me your address and I'll mail you mine. No charge ($60 value). I've had my fun with them and since moved on to other games. Now they're just collecting dust. Its a good game (if a little old) with a big community if he likes online play.

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/battlefield2/index.html?q=battlefield%202&tag=result;title;0

dmgedgoods
05-31-2007, 10:09
Panasonic is a rip.
http://www.mdg.ca/en/products/notebooks/durabook/
Decent, rugged notebooks from about $1500, as opposed to $3000 for a comparable Panasonic.
There are other alternatives as well, such as a complete custom built notebook to your specs. For the price of the Panasonic Toughbook, you could have a pretty neat laptop built from the parts you want. Add a 1-3 year warranty, get a tough case, and you are solid.
One company in particular finances custom-built notebooks for the military/DoD crowd. If I remember correctly, a fellow soldier picked up a notebook from them, and paid $150 a month. The site was:
http://800hightech.com/
Never dealt with them personally, but if you call, they may have some useful info for you.