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CruisingWiki

Buying a new laptop for the boat (part 2of2) ….

In part 1 of this posting I was trying to see how best to approach the task of getting a good replacement laptop for my old Dell XPS M1530 (deceased).

After digging around the web, and trying to judge what was good and what was lacking with my old laptop and the uses to which it was put, I came up with some selection criteria.

Pleaese look back at post 1of2 if you haven't read it already, but in summary here are my selection criteria:

    • Benchmark software capability – MaxSea TZ (3D graphics + real time signal processing from instruments)
    • Screen size – 15” (adequate for charts, and larger would mean more power consumption)
    • HDD – 320Gb (minimum)
    • RAM – 4Gb (minimum)
    • Battery Life 3 hrs (minimum)
    • TDP rating 45watts (or less, an idea of heat dissipation, indirectly power consumption)

    That is when the fun started.

    Top of the list overall in my table published before (look back here) is the Intel i5 2540M. it has a very high 3D and Whetstone score and its TDP consumption is 35watts.

    However, most popular Sandy Bridge processor options for Intel’s based laptops on the market are the Core i3-2310 and i5-2410M which are more affordable to the manufacturers.

    So my task was effectively to find the cheapest laptop with the following spec:

    • CPU – Intel i5 2540M / i5-2520M / i5-2430M / i5-2410M / i5-580M
      (all score over 30,000 on both 3DMark06 and Whetstone benchmarks)
    • Screen size – 15”
    • HDD – 320Gb (minimum, 500Gb preferred)
    • RAM – 4Gb (minimum, 8Gb preferred)
    • Battery Life 3 hrs (minimum)

     

    Search Tip – By the way in order to search easily for a specific processor like I am suggesting –  type this command into the Google search box:

    • i5 2540M site:simplyacer.com
    • or i5 2540M site:amazon.com
    • or i5 2540 site:.co.uk -amazon (only looks at sites in the UK, but omits amazon )

    … this uses the Google “site:” directive – and that way you can search specifically for one particular item – in this case a particular CPU on a specific web site without getting bogged down with a boggling number of results.

     

    So what does the search come up with?:

    The laptops that use the i5 2540M processor are pricey and include the following…

    • Fujitsu Notebook CELSIUS H910 – £3,527 !!
    • HP Notebook 8560w – £1,949
    • Lenovo Notebook ThinkPad T420s – £1,417
    • HP EliteBook 8460p – £1,147
    • Dell XPS 15 Laptop (n00x5m21) – £680

    But, here is a surprise, you can also get this i5 2540M CPU in some laptops for much less….

    • Acer Aspire 5750G – with 8Gb RAM / 500Gb HDD and the built in Intel HD 3000 graphics for £480
    • HP Pavilion g6-1384ea – with 6Gb RAM / 750Gb HDD and the built in Intel HD 3000 graphics for £499

     

    Changing CPU models down a notch, and you come up with a variety of good contenders:

    • i5 2430M … HP Pavilion g6-1217sg – £500
    • i5 2430M … Sony Vaio VPCEH2N1E/W.CEK – £486
    • i5 2430M … Toshiba Satellite C660-258 – £480
    • i5 2410M … Acer Aspire 5755G-2434G50Mics – £668
    • i5 2467M … Toshiba Satellite C660-2EV – £450

     

    Final choice….the Acer Aspire 5750G – with 8Gb RAM / 500Gb HDD …lets see if this lasts 4 years 🙂

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    2 comments to Buying a new laptop for the boat (part 2of2) ….

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    Using light instead of electricity…

    USG1A422-150exThe innovative Actisense USG-1-485 can be used to protect your laptop from sudden voltage spikes while connected to your boat’s serial wiring system. The traditional NMEA 0183 is often offered as a serial port connection when most modern PC’s and laptops only have USB nowadays.

    Up till now all you had to do was buy a suitable Serial/USB convertor such as the one I reviewed here, or buy a multiplexor such as the one I reviewed here.

    This device does it differently – light is used to transfer the data signals between the serial port and the USB. The device gets its own power from the laptop’s USB port. Installation is easy using the supplied CD that will create a “virtual serial port” on your laptop.

    The only problem is the price …£80!

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    Mobile phone confusion !

    My little venture into experimenting with mobile phones and their use on my boat has stirred up a lot of readers of this blog it appears see comments here

    Questions include:

    – Can I use my smartphone to connect my laptop to the internet?
    – Can I use my phone as a chart plotter?
    – Which software and maps can I use on my phone?
    – How can I improve the interface on my phone? – I cant get to the Bluetooth and other settings easily because they buried under so many menu options…
    – Can I get the Met Office weather forecast and barometric charts on my phone?

    I had not realised that so many of you are as frustrated as I am in getting more out of my expensive smartphone when they seem to promise so much….

    Just to make one point absolutely clear I am referring to the latest crop of smartphones “not the common or garden phones” – and I dont care if you have 3G, MP3, or any other acronym – I mean a phone that is running a real mini operating system such as Windows Mobile 6 or Symbian.

    As a result of all this interest I have decide to create a whole new section dedicated to mobile phone use on boats – look across the tabs at the top of the page….and you will see a tab called “Phones”.

    I have only just started, but please – come back and check because I will be trying to answer the questions raised as best as I can on this new section.

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    HTC 7510 – Solid State Computer & Phone & GPS !

    HTC7510Further to the post on the arrival of solid state computers in particular the HTC 7501 I see that HTC have got 2 new models…

    The top of the range HTC 7510 now runs Windows Mobile 6, has a 16Gb flash drive for storage – more than enough for charts, tracks and waypoints – and as a mobile phone it will support :

    o HSDPA/WCDMA: 2100 MHz for Europe
    o 850/1900 MHz for USA,
    o with up to 384 kbps upload and 1.8 Mbps download speeds
    o GSM/GPRS/EDGE: Quad-band 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz (The device will operate on any frequencies available from the cellular network.)Click here for a full specification

    Using the internal GPS and you could have a very capable chartplotter / phone / email / camera / web browser that can work with your current phone provider or WiFi when you are in the marina or in a cafe using a WiFi hotspot. Of course you would also need chartplotter software that works under Windows Mobile 6 such as the Pathaway software from Muskoka. more on that here…

    For pictures of this tiny unit see Endgadget

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    Connect to the Internet with dongle or a phone?

    Instead of connecting your phone to your laptop, you can more easily connect a dongle. These little devices are amazing bits of technology when you consider that simply plugging them in and waiting a few minutes gets you connected to mobile broadband far quicker and easier than either configuring your phone or indeed connecting your PC, router and ADSL modem to a wired connection.

    In my experience the maximum speed you can expect to connect to the internet using a dongle is about 2Mb/sec if you happen to be in a 3G area. While cruising along the coast or sitting in most marinas I would anticipate speeds of around 1Mb/sec.

     

    Ovation MC930
    Make Ovation MC930D
    Max speed achieved 440k/sec
    Average speed achieved in 3G area 318k/sec
    Average speed achieved out of 3G area 348k/sec
    Huawei E169G
    Make Huawei E169G
    Max speed achieved 2.6Mb/sec
    Average speed achieved in 3G area 1.6Mb/sec
    Average speed achieved out of 3G area 1.0Mb/sec
    Option Icon 225
    Make Option Icon 225
    Max speed achieved 1.3Mb/sec
    Average speed achieved in 3G area 650k/sec
    Average speed achieved out of 3G area 320k/sec
    Huawei E170
    Make Huawei E170
    Max speed achieved 2.1Mb/sec
    Average speed achieved in 3G area 2Mb/sec
    Average speed achieved out of 3G area 964k/sec
    Huawei E172
    Make Huawei E172
    Max speed achieved 1.9Mb/sec
    Average speed achieved in 3G area 1.3Mb/sec
    Average speed achieved out of 3G area 890k/sec

    So the installation is easy and the speeds are fine for down loading email, GRIB files, and even browsing the web – the real problem is the cost. Prices in the UK are coming down – you can get access for £10/month and you can get roaming across Europe for £10/day – elsewhere the prices are many times higher…well the Telecoms companies are so poor aren’t they?

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