laptop for dusty vehicle

Submitted: Sunday, Jul 28, 2002 at 00:00
ThreadID: 1601 Views:1909 Replies:6 FollowUps:10
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G'day, I am in the market for a Laptop which I will use extensively for map reading etc with my Magellan 330 GPS. I drive an ancient Nissan which lets in a fair amount of dust and it is also prutty truck-like in the suspension department. Can anyone suggest a rugged, dustproof Laptop around 3 grand? Cheers, Willie
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Reply By: Bob - Sunday, Jul 28, 2002 at 00:00

Sunday, Jul 28, 2002 at 00:00
The main concern with dustr is entry into the hard drive. There are only about 3 manufacturers so all units are equally susceptible. Avoid using your CD Rom by loading the maps onto your hard drive. Why spend 3 grand? I just bought a used P233 with a 14.1 inch screen which does the job fine. If it succumbs to dust I have lost $650 -not $3000
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Follow Up By: Guy - Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00

Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00
Bob, what is a p233? it sounds like a 288 processor or is it? interested.
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Follow Up By: Member - Sam - Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00

Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00
Guy, i think Bob is referring to a system containing a Pentium II 233Mhz processor. It was the first PII released. cheers, Sam.
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Follow Up By: Bob - Tuesday, Jul 30, 2002 at 00:00

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2002 at 00:00

Sam is right
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Reply By: Member - Nigel - Sunday, Jul 28, 2002 at 00:00

Sunday, Jul 28, 2002 at 00:00
If you go for a new laptop, you may wish to consider one that uses a Crusoe processor, as they generate less heat (ie will cope with hot and dusty conditions better).

I bought the tiny Fujitsu P1030, but that's been superceeded now. I believe the new model still weighs less than 1 kg. Less weight means less damage when you drop it.Check them out at

Toshiba probably has the best track record for reliability in adverse conditions, so that's another one to condsider.
AnswerID: 5215

Reply By: P.G. (Tas) - Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00

Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00
G'day Willie, this is a simple one to solve. I bought an Hewlett Packard OmniBook XE-3 for just the same job (it also handles email, and fax via GSM & CDMA phones), although any major brand will do the same job (Watchout for IBM thinkpads, they don't have com ports anymore, they are USB ports only! I purchased a well padded carry case (about $120.00) and the zip seal plastic bag my laptop came in. I was worried about condensation in the bag but it hasn't been a problem to date. Load all your maps and software onto the hard drive (hard drives are sealed). The only area's likely to suffer dust inhalation is the keyboard area and fan vents. I carry a soft 2" pastry brush to keep dust out of these area's. By the way, my laptop is a 1.2 gig celeron, it does get hot on your lap so I simply leave it in the case with plenty of ventilation around the back and after 2 trips into the outback the heat generated by the unit has not been a problem. Hope this helps. Cheers
AnswerID: 5216

Reply By: Guy - Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00

Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00
Willie, what you are talking about is only a dream. I had a laptop on a 6000 kms 4WD journeyto Cape York. I wreck my hard drive. The hard drive fault started to show up a month after I came back. To do what you want to do you'll need a IDE FLASH drive . Dust is not the problem but even with excllent padding you'll wroeck your hard drive. Willie if it works you can pattent your idea, the first customer will be the Australian/US army.
AnswerID: 5219

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - David - Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00

Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00
Guys,We have travelled for 5 years carrying laptops on every trip. We now run our laptop at all times whilst the vehicle is moving. I have never had a hard drive failure. In fact we often drive with the windows down (dust comming in) and the laptop is running with the cover open in the rear seat behind the driver (me). I strap it in with a seat belt and have it sitting in a padded bag around the base and sides. These days you can also carry around a spare drive for a laptop (they are 2 1/2" disks and you can get a 20GB disk for around $220 you can now also get a little D-Link box that will house these drives and allow you to plug into the USB port - use this to make a backup copy of the main drive). As for us I don't bother carrying a spare as I have never had one break and if it does I have the laptop backups in the office.Think about this a $200-$250 disk is not that expensive a component when you compare your fuel usage/parts and servicing of your vehicle. Now we must also underatand that electronic components do fail and I as a job get involved with failed laptop and desktop computers drives - I am wondering how the previous post person can be sure the drive failed whilst on the 4WD trip, it broke some 4 weeks later - could be anything.Dust may enter your keyboard area so a good dust out with a small brush would be all that should be required. Laptops also use exhaust fans not intake fans and they draw the air from all over the palce so trying to stop the air intake is difficult, but in the padded bag most of the side openings on our systems are covered. I completly opened my laptop after the last trip and did not find that much dust in it, yes there was some but I expected that after 2 years of running with the cover open in the back of our vehicle.We have used two different brands being Toshiba and NEC and as already mentioned we have not had problems with either.Hope this is helpfulDavid
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Follow Up By: Doug Roberts - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2002 at 00:00

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2002 at 00:00
So we have 2 extreme opinions: one from Willie who blames the vibration or dust for a belated hard drive fail, and one from David which is much more encouraging.
This is all useful to me as I'm about to obtain & install a laptop for mapping purposes, internfaced to a GPS so I'll want to be able to see it from the driver's seat.
(Series 80 Cruiser).
I am also in Computers and a reasonably mounted and dust protected 2nd hand lappie seems to be the way to go. Probably 2nd hand.
I agree with David that a spare harddrive for backup would be a cheap failover solution; I'm also intrigued with the idea suggested in this forum of using a flash drive but I think large capacity ones would have to be expensive?
Access to the Internet would seem to be essential these days but how do you do that without incurring heavy mobile charges (if you have a signal even).
I'm new to ExplorOz, I hope I've posted this in the right place.
FollowupID: 3072

Reply By: ExplorOz Team - David - Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00

Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00
Willie,Please see the followup I posted about.David
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Follow Up By: Willie - Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00

Monday, Jul 29, 2002 at 00:00
G'day, Thanks for all the info, Bob,Guy,Nigel,Sam, P.G.(Tas) and David. I appreciate your input. I will most likely carry my laptop in a spare cameracase that I have. I have been looking at a Toshiba Satellite for around $2700 and by all accounts they seem to be pretty reliable. I also came across a website in Melbourne and they had a refurbished Toshiba Satellite 490CDT for around $1100. But I am hesitant buying over the internet and a used item at that! Better go with the newbie and get a full warranty with it. Cheers, Willie
FollowupID: 2245

Follow Up By: Guy - Tuesday, Jul 30, 2002 at 00:00

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2002 at 00:00
David, I am learning something here- I am not trying to be sarcastic or anyhting and certainly would like to contiunue carrying a laptop.
I have a Toshiba Satellitte 2520CDT and a 400 CDT. The first one has a 4 Gb HD and second one a 800Mb HD
Seriously how do you copy your Hard drive through your USB port? What do you use, "Ghost" from Norton and then more important how do you copy your first copy onto the "new hard drive"? -- Then how do you manage to get a Hard drive for $220 for a Toshiba Laptop? I'll be in it even for $300. If you can explain how you "transfer your Operating system " from one Hard drive to the other would be good and also what operating system are you using? WIN98(1) WIN98(2), LINUX?
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - David - Tuesday, Jul 30, 2002 at 00:00

Tuesday, Jul 30, 2002 at 00:00
Guy,I will get you Toshiba compatible 2.5" HDD units at 20GB for $250 (I will still make a margin at this price) if you want one. I have a 480CDT that we used to use for mapping and documentation on our last trips so I am very familiar with the Toshiba units. I use Win2000 on all of my systems and you can use a marid of disk copy products Ghost being one, there are a lot of shareware programs available that do bit copies of HDD units on the net. I use one that I have written myself in C. Ghost, DiskCopy or any other program will be fine.Plug the disk into your laptop via USB is fully available (DLink have a product that you should be able to find at most computer shops) or I can get it for you for under $100.Then copy your drive from C to D or whatever the letters are based on your config and you have a full copy of the entire system. In fact you could so this say once a week or more and have a fully backup solution for under $400. Should your main disk fail remove the 2.5" original disk from the laptop and swap in your new disk. On most Toshiba's there is a small panel at the front with a screw in it from the bottom - remove the screen and the cover will come off and you can simply pull the HDD out. Swap the internal caddie onto your new disk and push it back in. The Toshiba's bios will pick it up and run with it straight away.Guy, I sell and implement these solutions to my major corporate clients some of which with over 100 laptops - works for them should work for you. Maybe I should make these up and sell them on the Adventure Shop.David
FollowupID: 2264

Follow Up By: Doug - Tuesday, Sep 24, 2002 at 00:00

Tuesday, Sep 24, 2002 at 00:00
Aplogies to Willie; it was Guy who was the unbeliver about the reliability of travelling Lappies, not Willie.
My mistake, apologies Willie.
FollowupID: 3073

Reply By: Sharky - Tuesday, Aug 06, 2002 at 00:00

Tuesday, Aug 06, 2002 at 00:00
Willie, I purchased a second hand Toshiba Portege for $1650 out of the paper prior to our trip from Perth to Alice, returning on the great central road. It has a DVD drive and modem. The battery is useless but we used an Inverter in the car and power at caravan parks. Its main function was to entertain the kids with movies and games, we also used it to track fuel consumption. The kids used the laptop the whole trip, but did not use the DVD player while on the Great Central Road as I was concerned about the vibrations from the corrugations. It sat on the back seat the entire trip in between the kids, not in a case. Dust inside the car wasn't really a problem. It is still working and does not show any signs of trauma! You take your chances with second hand computers but the $1650 was worth the risk as it kept my 6 and 11 year olds happy the entire 6500kms. They even spent time teaching their computer illiterate father how to send an email! Good luck!
AnswerID: 5449

Follow Up By: Willie - Tuesday, Aug 06, 2002 at 00:00

Tuesday, Aug 06, 2002 at 00:00
Thanks for that Sharky. I still have not made a decision on which computer to buy. I live out here in the sticks and getting to the right dealer in the city is problematical. Getting knowledgeble advice from computer 'experts' out here in the bush is also a problem. This forum however has given me quite a bit of insight so I will hopefully make the right decision when the time comes. Cheers, Willie
FollowupID: 2348

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