Laptop for fieldwork?

posted
27-Nov-08, 15:44
edited about 20 seconds later
by maybug
Avatar for maybug
posted about 12 years ago
My current laptop is slowly expiring and I'd like to get a new one that'll survive fieldwork in Africa - dust in the dry season, humidity in the rainy season. It also needs to be as light as possible, and powerful enough to run word, endnote and SPSS, ideally also some sort of media player to keep me sane. It also needs a very reliable battery that won't get knackered after three months (access to power will be intermittent so I'll be running it on the battery quite a lot). What kind of laptop worked for other people who've been in similar situations?
posted
27-Nov-08, 22:14
edited about 11 seconds later
Avatar for Hypothesis
posted about 12 years ago
Paper and pencil?
posted
28-Nov-08, 00:51
edited about 10 seconds later
by Bonzo
Avatar for Bonzo
posted about 12 years ago
I'd nearly agree with Hypothesis on this one - surely ya can't be expecting to lug about a laptop in the conditions.
If you do need to record data, why not get either
a. A PDA with voice recognition software - most of them have some form of Windows software that can be then t/ferred to the main PC/laptop back at base
b. A good digital dictaphone - the one I have at present is ace and simple to use
If you use either in conjunction with some formalised means of recording the data, I'd reckon you'd be sorted. I also think that regardless of location, a laptop would would be too cumbersome, especially if doing interview.
If you still need a laptop out in the field, the supervisor has a tiny Asus which utilises OS software and seems robust enough (I think, and I could be corrected here, it runs using the Linux Op. System, which has become more user friendly). It is extremely small but seems to do the job. You may want to get protective covering regardless of what one you choose.
posted
28-Nov-08, 09:01
by H
Avatar for H
posted about 12 years ago
Panasonic toughbook! You can't go wrong with one of those. I do believe they have just updated their designs to come up with thinner, lighter but still durable laptops. I also believe, they are doing a 3 year replacement on them for 21 years - you get a free one every three years. I was tempted I have to say!
posted
28-Nov-08, 09:08
by H
Avatar for H
posted about 12 years ago
I tell a lie, it's Fujitsu Siemens that are doing the lifebook offer not panasonic.....
posted
28-Nov-08, 12:34
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for missspacey
posted about 12 years ago
Try searching for 'rugged' or 'ruggedised' (sp) laptops. I think the good ones for outdoor work are seriously expensive.
posted
29-Nov-08, 10:50
edited about 18 seconds later
by golfpro
Avatar for golfpro
posted about 12 years ago
I tend to agree with the person that suggested a pen and paper.
posted
01-Dec-08, 13:55
Avatar for birdsandbees
posted about 12 years ago
I took my Toshiba Tecra laptop on some pretty hardcore fieldwork in the tropics (having a laptop was a neccessity) and it survived fine, even while running off some pretty intermitent and dodgy solar panels (mind you, patops don't particuarly like solar power if thats an issue, i got a few odd static shocks from mine). Still, its 3 and a half years old now, and 2 years since i took it on fieldwork and its on its last legs. My collegue took his sony Vaio and it seemed to be ok also.
posted
01-Dec-08, 13:56
Avatar for birdsandbees
posted about 12 years ago
I forgot to add- it was 80-90+ % humidity. Dust was never an issue, we were living 20 metres from the sea......
posted
01-Dec-08, 17:11
Avatar for thecoastman
posted about 12 years ago
Steer well clear of the cheaper Fujistsus....ruggedised laptops are very expensive, and in my experience don't offer that much protection. E.g. if you drop both in the sea, they'll still break! You do get some nice rubber caps for the USB ports etc though.
posted
01-Dec-08, 17:22
edited about 18 seconds later
by AndyH
« Moderator »
Avatar for AndyH
posted about 12 years ago
I think the key here is backups. Any of the main brand laptops will break if you add dust or water into the equation. You could invest in one of the robust ones in a case, but you will pay for it. I would just buy a £400-£500 laptop, look after it, and always keep it in a soft case. I would also back everything up every night, so worst case scenario, you still have your data. If you're exposing your laptop to extreme conditions it is more likely to break, so backup backup, backup!

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