Laptops while on the road

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by gary138, Oct 25, 2007.

  1. gary138

    gary138 Adventurer

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    Laptops while on the road, pros and cons of traveling with a laptop.
    I'm planning on venturing south a bit further this coming year ( did Mexico earlier this year ) to south Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and back thru the Yucatan peninsula .
    As I research these trips I see a lot of people communicating via the internet. And what I see is how great the people of this list can be and so helpful when a person runs into trouble.
    This is my main reason I would consider carrying a laptop, the problem is I don't own one and I get by without one just fine BUT I'm seriously considering buying one for the above reasons.
    My questions to those who travel with them is How do you get service?? cafe? , do those cell phone like cards that you stick in the laptop that give you service work out of the country work.
    Do these internet cafes have there own PC's and if so are they in English and how do you log on to and use the adventure site??
    I know these questions may seem like stupid ones to some but I need to hold my tail between my legs and ask them. Thanks for all the help you can send my way !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    PS. If I do buy a laptop what should I be looking for ?? Keeping in mind I don't want to spend much money incase I run into a bandit. just what I absolutely need. Thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Gary Parece
    04 V-Strom 1000 31K, ,01 KLR650 18K
    04 WR250F ,04 H-D Road King 6K
    Sold but not forgotten 98 concours 110K
    #1
  2. pickler

    pickler Adventurer

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    I've been playing with this exact question in an effort to start up a business around it. There's other applications of what comes out of the requirements of taking these types of electronics on the road, (backpacking, generally anything that requires durability and portability), but I currently use a Nokia N800 with an external keyboard for just this purpose. Much smaller than a laptop, so it's easier to pack away and into something that will protect it. No hard drive, so it's more durable.
    #2
  3. snurdle

    snurdle The name is, Bond.....

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    Small, no DVD drive.

    I have a Dell X1, it works beautifully (windows XP), slips inside my bike jacket inner pocket when walking about in towns.

    Connection is mostly via internet cafe, many hotels have free wifi. It's hit and miss. Most internet cafes are familiar with travellers turning up and waving a PC and therefore have a hub configured with an spare ethernet cable, otherwise you are unplugging the desktop and plugging yours in.

    Be ready to send photos and emails, compress the pics and write the text in advance as some connections are very slow. I like hotmail it is very robust and saves the outgoing emails.

    Um, thats about it.

    Don't use vista, it is crap and many times you will need to hand your PC to an 8 year old to input IP addresses. XP is widely known and easy to set up.
    #3
  4. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    Go small.

    It helps for downloading and editing pics, and for typing notes. There are more wifi locations each day, although the most common connections will still be via Net cafes.

    Pack it ontop of you clothes.

    Get a 2 prong adapter if your charger in 3 prong.
    #4
  5. daveg

    daveg no longer homeless

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    If you're convinced you need a laptop on the road and aren't planning on doing some heavy duty processing hop onto craigslist or ebay and buy a used: the 12" or smaller versions of Fujitsu Lifebook, Sony Via, or IBM Thinkpad X-whatever.
    If you're an apple guy, buy an older 12" G5 based machine. Buy whatever you want and then the first thing you do is max out the RAM on it and it'll seem alot faster.

    Feel free to PM me if you're wondering if you're getting a good deal.

    Personally, come next Nov when I take my very long trip south, I hope to have a new Apple 12" =] . It won't be cheap though.

    If you bring a laptop, make sure that you have ethernet wires and maybe a small hub so you can just chain onto another desktop's network connection. You can get tiny 2-4 port hubs for almost free.

    Some people I know also like to travel with software that will enable the breaking of "secure WEP" wireless networks incase you can't find anything open.
    #5
  6. Kiko

    Kiko Long timer

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    I think you will find that cyber cafes are more common than wi fi hotspots in most of Mexico and Central America. I'm no computer geek though, and my luggage capacity is limited, so I tend to use the local resources.
    #6
  7. dtop1

    dtop1 Long timer

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    I carry an HP with a 14" screen traveling through Mexico and Guatemala. In tourist areas there are lots of open WiFi connections and many hotels have WiFi. Otherwise I go to a cybercafe and connect to their network by cable. Having your own computer, if you have the room, is very convenient. I don't worry about bandits stealing my computer south of the US border any more than I do in the US. Just make sure that it's always locked inside a bag or case when you leave your room. Dan
    #7
  8. 805gregg

    805gregg Long timer

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    I just picked up a new laptop, Panasonic Toughbook a little more money but designed to be dropped and spilled on. Plus it has a daylight viewable screen.
    #8
  9. gary138

    gary138 Adventurer

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    Hi , what about a blackberry phone?????? Again I really only want to be able to e-mail home and get this site and horizon unlimited incase I have a problem . I also could e-mail myself back at home a daily trip report. Can this be done with a blackberry or a device like it ?????????
    #9
  10. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

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    Gary, I travel everywhere with a laptop when I'm on business trips. When I go on vacation I leave it at home. Unless you are doing an epic LoneRider type adventure, you can survive a few weeks without one. It takes space, it's delicate, by the time you add the it all it's another 5 lbs to carry and it's one more thing to worry about.

    If you are worried about picture space on your camera, carry a large USB drive (or two) and transfer the pictures at a cybercafe. In Mexico they are almost as plentiful as tortillerias and almost as cheap, unless you are at a resort. At the same cybercafe you can e-mail yourself your notes and reports to help organize your pictures/thoughts later or you can post them directly to ADVRider (maybe some other sites too, but I don't think those matter :lol3).


    Gustavo
    #10
  11. kevrider

    kevrider Been here awhile

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    the keyboards are slightly different, but not enough to be a problem. especially if you are like me and can't type without looking at the keyboard. you'll log into this or any other site just as you would from any other computer that doesn't have your cookies and bookmarks: tap out the url or use google. i wasn't a forum guy when i was down there and didn't have a digicam, i just sent emails to friends and family. were i headed down now, i'd probably get a card reader so i could transfer jpegs to my ipod and upload them at a later date. i composed the emails from my notes when i sat at the terminal, so it would have been faster had i already had everyhing typed. but the expense of $1/hr at the cafe surely added up to less than any sort of laptop would have set me back.

    so, i think a laptop is handy and i'll consider one for the next Big Trip. but i'm not sure it would be worth the bother unless i wanted to get a laptop anyway for other reasons.
    #11
  12. spoof

    spoof on backwards

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    USB drives are also big enough (in terms of gigs) and fast enough and cheap enough now that you can carry your own copy of firefox or whatever you use, complete with your settings and bookmarks and simply launch it off the usb at an internet cafe....you can have some of your own photo and writing apps as well, maybe an email client...whatever floats your boat. And the whole thing fits in a change pocket or hangs around your neck or whatever.
    #12
  13. Lone Rider

    Lone Rider Registered User

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    ctrl+alt+2 = @

    Saves asking some questions, especially when the keyboard lettering is well worn.
    #13
  14. cwc

    cwc Been here awhile

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    Do you have to "install" Firefox or can you just use it off the USB drive?

    Is there an email program that doesn't have to be installed?
    #14
  15. spoof

    spoof on backwards

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    Check out this U3 page.

    It's like a little Linux system only--like a corn dog---it comes on a stick!

    Pretty cool, and preloaded with Firefox, Skype, Open Office (so-so app, though) and a bunch of other stuff. If it doesn't come with something like Thunderbird, I'm sure it ain't nothing but a thing to add it.

    I'm headed for Mexico and Guatemala in a month and will take on. I'll definitely report back on how well it works.
    #15
  16. PhilSpace

    PhilSpace The Gov Administrator

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    I've been watching this for a couple days and really think it applies to traveling everywhere, so it's now in TP. I will leave a redirect in Outer Darkness for a while. Great thread, U3 is a cool idea for those that don't travel with a notebook.
    #16
  17. Drif10

    Drif10 Accredited Jackass

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    I was messing around with an iTouch at the store yesterday. That's Apple's mp3 player/web browser with wifi. The iPhone isn't available up here, but I think for my needs when it does come out, I'm sold. Sure, it's kinda a pain to type on, but man...one thing to keep charged up? I always got tunes with me, and a phone, so the wifi thing saves me all kinds of space and adds all kinds of convenience.

    Something to consider. :dunno
    #17
  18. Scrubs

    Scrubs erm

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    I did a fair bit of research to this latley with the same veiw as you.

    I would say the following was worth a look the Asus Eee PC
    its a tiny Linux based laptop for around $400 http://eeepc.asus.com/en/

    I like to watch the odd DVD while I'm on the road so I wanted
    something with a DVD drive (which the Asus doesent have)
    the best portable model IMO with a DVD drive is the Vaio TX series
    11" screen, extremely light and with standard battery has a run time
    of 7 hours and 16 hours with extended battery. In practice it's
    always best to half these claims to give a conservative run time
    under load but still has the most impressive battery run time
    for a laptop like that that I have come across.

    They have now been superseded by the newer Vaio TZ range
    which again are very impressive. they offer a dual core processor
    instead of single (and also cost alot more) If you're not wanting
    to do anything to strenuous with it I would suggest the older
    and cheaper TX range.
    #18
  19. RoyB

    RoyB Dartmouth, Massacusetts

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    #19
  20. Scrubs

    Scrubs erm

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    I Love it! :clap

    Great Work! Very Impressive :thumb

    Did you make any build instructions? it would make a great build tutorial thread.
    #20