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- What kind of laptop to choose?
January 16, 2006, 8:10 pm
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best for me. I am a disabled person who relies extensively on my
computer at home, at school, and whenever any work happens to come my
way. When I take a class or go out to see a client (I'm trying to
finish up a degree in rehabilitation counseling), I have to bring the
computer with me because I can barely write and have trouble reading
without it. Whenever my computer breaks down, I am almost paralyzed in
terms of being able to function academically or vocationally.
My state vocational rehabilitation agency has provided me with a laptop
computer. The current one is a Dell Inspiron 5150. It is a replacement
for the previous Dell laptop that kept crashing until Dell finally
replaced it. Before Dell I had a couple of Compaqs. I was not given any
choice in the model of computer provided. The state agency just went
with whatever company it had a contract with at the time.
The problem I'm having is that I keep losing hard drives. I have yet to
have one last longer than five months (that one was during a period
when I was not taking classes and not traveling much, so it got to stay
home most of the time, but crashed within a month of my starting back
to class and internship); the first Compaq (which I had when I was
going back and forth to class every day) rarely went longer than six
*weeks* without a catastrophic crash. I have always transported them in
carry cases designed for laptop computers. I have (miraculously, given
my motor problems) managed never to drop one (yet).
Still, the nature of my disability is such that my computer is
subjected to more rough handling than would be desirable. When being
transported (powered down and in its case), it gets jounced around
riding on my wheelchair. When I'm handling it, it gets bumped and
jostled due to my coordination problems. When I'm typing on it, I bang
kind of hard on the keys due to mild spasticity. Last night it was
sitting safely (I thought) on a stable surface, and I got up to get a
disk I needed, and fell (also not an infrequent occurrence due to my
disability), bumping into the surface the computer was on. The computer
did not get knocked onto the floor, but it did get knocked a foot or
so, while it was running. This is the kind of thing that happens to
computers when I use them.
So my question: Is there a laptop that's durable enough to work for me?
I've heard about Panasonic Toughbooks: Are they really as good as they
claim to be? Is there anything else that's rugged enough to survive
being used by me? I have adaptive reading and writing software that
only works on Windows, and I need file compatibility with Word and
other Microsoft Office files, so I guess that rules out Apple laptops,
even though I've heard good things about them. Suggestions, please?
Jim Sinclair firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: What kind of laptop to choose?
No idea why your hard drives crash so often - modern drives are very tough.
As you noted, you might want to investigate a "ruggedized" machine
(toughbook or similar) which are well made, tough, but often feature-poor
and expensive. Or you can get a good business-class laptop, such as
IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad T-43. Thinkpads have a "cushioned" hard drive and are
in general very good laptops (great displays, keyboards) that stand up very
well to mild and not-so-mild abuse: I fly over 200 000 miles a year with 2
Thinkpads with no major problems and as you know security checkers are often
There's no place like 127.0.0.1
Re: What kind of laptop to choose?
There are plenty. Panasonic CF series are the best known but there are also
Systems, Mitac, Rough Rider, Twinhead, Amrel, Itronix and many others made to
specs" or explicitly for the military, law enforcement, etc. (You know...your
dollars at work :-)))
Nearly every laptop manufacturer makes at least one "semi-ruggedized" model for
police, etc - but you gotta ask.
"Grove giveth and Gates taketh away"