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Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?

us Offline cody6268

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Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
on: June 23, 2021, 03:01:38 AM
Back when I replaced an Acer that quit working; I purchased a secondhand rugged laptop.

Well, after 10-ish years (including 5 with a PD in Texas) my General Dynamics GD8200's battery finally crapped out. Battery is toast. The laptop cost me $240, and the battery is nearly $150; and it's an aftermarket battery. It was also really beginning to show its age, and having been built in 2011, something major is bound to fail.  General Dynamics divested their laptop division (formerly Itronix) some years back. A company still uses these designs, but they are more than $3000 a laptop. These are made for businesses and governments with deep pockets, not the average consumer.  Used, they sell (usually) pretty cheap.

I am trying to keep the costs under $300; and will likely end up going refurbished again.


The GD8200 was smaller and easier to carry (instead of needing a padded case, I could just grab it by the handle, or attach a shoulder strap with clips (that come off any cheap tool/messenger bag).
You don't have to baby rugged laptops.  I have to have either a very heavy-duty case, or industrial grade rugged devices. I picked a Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 when I got my phone, and it's taken a beating.
With basically any PC made for professional/business use; the components are heavier duty and made to last much longer than consumer PCs.


But, it had its problems. Due to the magnesium chassis (NOT plastic!) it was really heavy.
I really don't need a FULLY rugged laptop. Dealing with all the port covers on the GD8200 when I had to plug something in (i.e. mouse) was a pain in the rear.
The somewhat dated hardware wasn't that fast.
The screen had a 4:3 resolution which was weird with a lot of software.
Usually refurbished PCs are old , and thus have old components. I think my GD8200 had a second-gen? i7. The refurbished desktop I recently got rid of, 3rd gen. My current PC, brand new, 8th gen.
Refurbishers use SSDs instead of hard drives. You can't do much with a 250GB SSD that they like to put in these.


My folks talked me into moving the desktop into my room, since they felt it was just taking up space in the living room. This PC, bought earlier this year is built for gaming, and specs quite well for the job. A cheaper PC usually has integrated graphics, and isn't good at all. I did college classes online; but given I'm switching paths to a career path, I won't be needing a laptop to take with me everywhere as much.  Thus, I'm not using a laptop like I used to; but still have a need to have a portable computer.  I won't be doing any gaming on them most likely. My plans are Office software, OBD software, as well as email/web use.

I'm beginning to think a rugged laptop is better. I really like the Toughbook that was convertible to a tablet, but they're often expensive, and their hardware really dated.

I see semi-rugged Dell business laptops that are in my price range, are just as easy to work on; and will take the occasional drop. Plus, if I do need them for work or college work, they're probably better.

I also see a rugged tablet with really good specs, much newer components than the laptops I was looking at, and a decent price. It would also be easier to carry around than any laptop.


wales Online GearedForwards

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #1 on: June 23, 2021, 07:36:25 AM
I can see why a phone would take a beating, especially in manual work like farm work, but why would your laptop take a beating? I think your options and value would increase massively if you just got a neoprene sleeve for whatever you choose and handle it like it's a laptop. Professional grade laptops aren't really better built than consumer models, the only real pluses on a professional series for most manufacturers is the warranties they provide and dock compatability which is pretty essential in an office environment, especially a hot desking one.

If this would just be a general use laptop for the odd time you're away from home or just not at your desk then honestly most mid range laptops are good enough to fill that gap, so the first step would be just browsing the clearance section of your favourite retailers if you're willing to drop the 'tough' requirement.
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us Offline ezdog

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #2 on: June 23, 2021, 02:27:18 PM
I work in the field and use Toughbooks mostly when I have to to run a Windows machine which I try my best to avoid in general too.

They are pricey and heavy and chunky and pretty much indestructible in my experience too.

Just yesterday I was working in a Basement on a jobsite when water came pouring in from the Kitchen above while I was programming a Network and I just turned the thing over and shook a little and kept going.

That is why a Rugged Computer!


us Online Aloha

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #3 on: June 23, 2021, 03:26:22 PM
Well heck, ya learn something new and today its rugged laptop.  Heck yes you need one. 
Esse Quam Videri


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #4 on: June 24, 2021, 04:35:26 AM
I have often looked at rugged computers myself as I have worked in the field for over 20 years.

In the end, I did the math and realized that rather than spend $3000 on a computer that can withstand anything short of a 6 megaton detonation, I can use a $300 laptop until it dies.  Then I can spend another $300 on a replacement, likely with better specs.

And, assuming I buy less than ten laptops in 5 years, I will be ahead of the game.

So far, so good.

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


us Online nate j

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #5 on: June 24, 2021, 04:52:02 AM
In the end, I did the math and realized that rather than spend $3000 on a computer that can withstand anything short of a 6 megaton detonation, I can use a $300 laptop until it dies.  Then I can spend another $300 on a replacement, likely with better specs.

And, assuming I buy less than ten laptops in 5 years, I will be ahead of the game.

 :iagree:
This.  Pretty much what my company decided.  Rugged laptops are so stupid expensive, it is more cost effective to simply buy regular laptops and replace the ones that break.


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #6 on: June 24, 2021, 09:16:42 AM
I wanted a rugged laptop.  I wanted an excuse to buy one. 

In the end, it's just not worth it.  I work outdoors in the weather, but realistically my laptop is inside the Jeep 98% of the time it is used at work, so it really isn't exposed to inclement weather.

It still experiences temperature and humidity issues, but even a rugged laptop would suffer from the same issues.

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


us Offline ezdog

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #7 on: June 24, 2021, 12:42:58 PM
I wanted a rugged laptop.  I wanted an excuse to buy one. 

In the end, it's just not worth it.  I work outdoors in the weather, but realistically my laptop is inside the Jeep 98% of the time it is used at work, so it really isn't exposed to inclement weather.

It still experiences temperature and humidity issues, but even a rugged laptop would suffer from the same issues.

Def

If I bought new ones then maybe your conclusions would echo my experience but I do pay under $500 for the Toughbooks often way less and because of the way they are made they usually look as new as they still are inside.
These machines are better in every environmental situation that there is too,the ratings are often against moisture,heat,cold and dropping!
The big ones have hard drive heaters built in that let me work in much colder and wetter days than I want to as ell as drying the innards out a little if water does get in somehow.

Though may not be as current and perform as well as if I kept up with newer machines but for me this pales compared to the pleasure of using something so nicely made where this is the clear exception these days anymore really and they are now plenty fast enough for anything you could need anyway as are most almost current portable computers anyway!

There are plenty of used and refurbished rugged computers out there that they can be purchased really cheaply all the time.

And there is a lot to be said for getting a device that is just better engineered and constructed just like there is with everything else we talk about every day here and these computers are exactly like that too.


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #8 on: June 24, 2021, 03:38:10 PM
I can't argue with those points either. 

There is absolutely a place for these machines, and I can see why you appreciate them- that is why I wanted one.  Unfortunately my wallet and my desires often don't see eye to eye!   :ahhh

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


il Offline pomsbz

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #9 on: June 24, 2021, 05:08:19 PM
These days I'd simply go for a tablet unless you need high end computing power or proprietary software. They're built more rugged to start with, are far more affordable/replaceable and something like the Samsung Galaxy Active Tab is IP68 water resist, rugged drop shell, etc. Simply add bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
"It is better to lose health like a spendthrift than to waste it like a miser." - Robert Louis Stevenson


us Offline ezdog

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #10 on: June 24, 2021, 05:29:38 PM
These days I'd simply go for a tablet unless you need high end computing power or proprietary software. They're built more rugged to start with, are far more affordable/replaceable and something like the Samsung Galaxy Active Tab is IP68 water resist, rugged drop shell, etc. Simply add bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

Just one of many

https://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-Toughpad-i5-3437U-Digitizer-Bluetooth/dp/B07WJW3JX4/ref=sr_1_45?dchild=1&keywords=panasonic+toughbook+tablet+refurbished&qid=1624548225&sr=8-45


us Offline Duxk

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #11 on: July 01, 2021, 04:01:57 AM
Take a look at a Getac v110 I literally send these down range and they can take a beating. I’m not sure what you are running but if it’s not super intense also look at older IBM think pads


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gb Offline Tasky

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #12 on: December 17, 2021, 12:05:09 PM
Just to add a +1 for second-hand/refurbed Toughbooks.
I just scored three of them for under £200 each, through our IT supplier at work - They're going straight to my mechanic friend, whose staff uses them at work for all the OBD-II, CANBUS and Rosstech type stuff. If ever you needed proof that toughbooks are worth it, busy independent mechanics' average working days have me convinced.

Personally I wish I could get a GRiD Case, but that's just my aesthetics doing the talking :D


Offline Shkurka

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #13 on: April 27, 2022, 03:29:43 PM
Most new laptop and desktop computers come with an SSD installed instead of the traditional HDD we’ve all gotten used to over the past 30-plus years.


us Offline Sos24

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #14 on: April 27, 2022, 05:53:12 PM
These days I'd simply go for a tablet unless you need high end computing power or proprietary software. They're built more rugged to start with, are far more affordable/replaceable and something like the Samsung Galaxy Active Tab is IP68 water resist, rugged drop shell, etc. Simply add bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
This is my thought. 

I don’t have a lot of computer needs, but a tablet with a keyboard meets most off them.  With a Supcase, or similar durable case, the tablet is well protected.


ca Offline Grant Lamontagne

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #15 on: April 28, 2022, 12:36:57 PM
This is the route I went- sort of.

I decided that it was about time to start thinking about replacing both my laptop and my tablet, and I went back and forth over which one to replace first.  My tablet decided it was going to be first to be replaced when it died on me.   :facepalm:

Fortunately I had already done the research and decided to replace it with a Kindle Fire tablet.  I opted for the Fire 10 with the productivity bundle (or whatever they call it) with the case and keyboard. 

No sooner did I place the order for the Fire 10 than my laptop decided to also crap out on me.   :facepalm:

For the past couple of months I have been trying to manage with just the Fire 10 acting as both laptop and tablet, and to be honest, it manages surprisingly well, handling a lot more than I thought it would.  But, there are still some things I would rather have a PC for, and so I am saving up for a new one of those as well, although since my Fire 10 handles just about all of my portable needs, I am actually thinking of going back to a desktop.  That's not something I ever figured I would do, but I like the idea of a very large screen (and/or multipls screens) and the upgradeability of a desktop.

Def
Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.


Offline Shkurka

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Re: Do I Need a Rugged Laptop?
Reply #16 on: May 02, 2022, 03:05:18 PM
 :spamkiller:
« Last Edit: May 02, 2022, 08:18:50 PM by SteveC »


 

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