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MareeJ
MareeJ

Posted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:47am

Post Subject: Buying a computer to use on our narrow boat

When we retire (12/18 months time) we hope to spend a few weeks at a time cruising on our narrow boat on the UK waterways. We don't have a computer at home but want to keep in touch with family and friends while away and also be able to do research on the internet. Can you suggest/recommend a computer (presumably a laptop) which we can use at the marina (we have electrical hook up), away from the marina, and also at home in between cruises. What facilities/equipment would we need in order to run it for say a couple of hours when moored up? Any advice would be appreciated. Many thanks.

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Sat Aug 21, 2010 2:49pm

Post Subject: Buying a computer to use on our narrow boat

Dear Maree, I have you an answer bes part of a week ago and and a reader added their comment three days ago. I think you will find that both myself and the other magazine forum have given you almost the same advice. IF there is something in our advice that you do not understand please come back and ask more questions. I reproduce my original reply below: Posted: Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:34pm Post Subject: Buying a computer to use on our narrowboat and at home Dear Maree, There is no reason not to use a desktop computer on a boat but the lack of storage space makes a laptop a far more practical solution. I am not going to recommend a make or specification apart from to say that my advice would be to make sure that the power in connector is not proprietary to that make. The reason will become clear later. This probably rules out Apple. For the use you describe nearly anything will do, I am sure a ã200 Netbook would be fine BUT if there is a possibility that you may want to stat dealing with digital photos it will probably be better to stick with a proper notebook because the more powerful insides will deal with pictures far faster than a Netbook. I would expect to find one at a bit under ã400. I would advise that you avoid getting a computer running Windows Vista because it seems to cripple the cheaper notebooks. When you are away from the shoreline I would suggest that you run the computer from a "car" power supply. This will save a little bit on the electricity an inverter may use to turn the battery output to mains and the the computer to change it back to a low volatge. I am sure all the computer makers list the car power supply as an option because they seem to be very profitable. I use one form Maplin which cost about ã30. Now you need to connect to the internet. I am sure all the major mobile phone providers have the equipment but after much searching I chose the 3 Telecom pay as you go dongle at ã39 including a ã10 top up. This will cost you ã10 a month or 1 Gb of data whichever comes first. With all my Q&As and magazine work I have never used up the 1Gb in 30 days. My advice would also be to get a long USB lead so you can hang the dongle in a window when in use. The one thing that is more difficult is a printer at reasonable cost. I simply do not use one when on the boat. Cannon used to make a fairly small mains ink-jet but I would suggest that you only use it when on the landline. FWIW my laptop is a cheap Fujitsu Siemens Amilo. My son uses a Toshiba and only changes the power supply plug & volatge on the Maplin supply I use for my computer. Tony Brooks.

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