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Old 08-14-06, 01:21 PM   #1
mdj
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Touring with a Laptop

I tried searching past posts but the search feature is presently disabled.

I am looking for ideas on how to protect a laptop during a cross Canada tandem trip planned for next year. We will have both panniers and a Nomad trailer with us. Do any of you have good ideas for packing the laptop that have worked for you......ie inside bubble wrap, wrapped in a towel, etc? Would the panniers be less jarring than the trailer? We are looking at camping most of the way and have managed to pick up a sweet flexible solar panel capable of recharging all our electronics.

Thanks for your help
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Old 08-14-06, 02:08 PM   #2
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A lot of people will tell you not to bother with one.
Ignore em. I did.
You want the smallest notebook yo can get. I use a fujitsu P1120, 2.2lbs with battery and 9 hrs battery life with the big battery. 9in touch screen, which is the smllest they could go and still have a usable keyboard. MSRP was ~$1000. Its been discontinued.
Look for a modelw ith a shock mounted HD.
I wrapped my latop in a polartec fleece and stored it in my drive-side front panner.
Also, get a cell modem. Let me ***** about every small detail here
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Old 08-14-06, 02:57 PM   #3
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My friend destroyed his laptop while on tour. Crashed the bike, pannier with laptop hit first = no more laptop.

Take it with caution and don't be upset it if doesn't return with you.
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Old 08-14-06, 03:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subigo
My friend destroyed his laptop while on tour. Crashed the bike, pannier with laptop hit first = no more laptop.

Take it with caution and don't be upset it if doesn't return with you.
This is why I took a cheapo.
However, i crashed once and had to dump by bike a few other times. It fell on the notebook side once. It was fine. My fleece is thick (with notebook it takes up 3/4 of my front-roller). (Water proof panner is a must with a notebook)
However, I very slightly weighted the non-drive side of my bike heavier -- not enough to notice while riding. Bike is far more likely to fall on the non-notebook side.
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Old 08-14-06, 03:30 PM   #5
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Yeah, I'm sure it can be done safely. It just sounds like he already has a laptop and isn't looking for a new one. So if it's a really nice laptop, I would be careful.... if it's not, take it.
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Old 08-14-06, 04:56 PM   #6
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I've toured with a laptop. It's kinda big depending on what you want to do. Currently I'm touring with a Palm T2 and a wireless folding keyboard.

I have my maps, my route directions, even copies of my passport and credit cards. My biggest use is for my tour diary. The T2 has 'Documents to Go' so you can create MS documents. I mostly use MS Word for the diary. It has external memory and a really great MP-3 player. If that's all you need you can reduce your weight and size dramatically. The cost...around $200.
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Old 08-14-06, 06:31 PM   #7
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I've cycled across around S.E. Asia with my huge DELL Latitude laptop 5 years ago and had no problems at all. What I actually did was used camping blue foam and made a sleeve that hugs the inside of the pannier. (Right by the rack) So, if I crashed/fell which I did, the clothing on the outside acted as a buffer.

When cycling across Canada, I simply shoved it in the BOB trailer I was towing. Just don't be upset when it goes bust. It's just one of those things. I've met a few cyclists travelling with laptops, and the most common problem that occured were broken screens or dead pixels. So, I may even recommend a thin layer of something between the screen and keyboard for extra protection, just in case your laptop gets a bit of a squeeze.

Other than that, if you're gonna be using your laptop mainly as a place to dump digital photos, I highly reccommend getting some form a portable Hard drive that allows you do dump photo onto it directly from that camera or memory card. Much lighter, and batteries last longer. If you're looking for email accesss, there are plenty of libraries around Canada to do a bit of email updating, especially if you're planing to cycle the provinces and not the territories.
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Old 08-14-06, 07:03 PM   #8
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I have an old Sony Viao that I wanted to take along mainly to keep up my journal. Going to try blogging as we go across the country, uploading pics as well. Mind you I have thought about just stopping in at libraries to do all that. I also have a Sony Clie UX 50 as another option. I could always use Documents to Go I suppose as was suggested above. If I take the computer it will likely be stored in bubble wrap and some form of padding such as a fleece. It could go in a pannier or on the trailer somewhere.
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Old 08-14-06, 09:25 PM   #9
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For the month of June we toured Switzerland, which included some pretty rough unpaved roads through the mountains. I was carrying a ton of electronics gear including my IBM X40 Thinkpad. It rode in either front pannier with either side facing up. Absolutely no padding aside from the 12" Sumo Sleeve that I scored on auction for it. The laptop was an auction score as well, brand new for about $1,000 with a 9-hour battery and slim line docking station base with built in drive.

All of my gear made it home looking and functioning just like new. I was doing a bit of photo editing each day so the computer was a must. You can check out the journal of that trip by following the "my journals" link below. Over 3,500 photos were taken and 200+ are currently loaded.

Not sure I'll be taking the laptop on future tours. In the end I traded photo editing time for social hour with the locals. Next tour I'll likely just carry two Wolverine 60GB FlashPacs. That's me though. All I'm really concerned with in such devices are dual backups of thousands of photos at 6 megs each. I have one Wolverine already and it's been great. Basic but fast.


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Old 08-14-06, 09:47 PM   #10
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We are touring with an old clunky IBM. I just put it in a laptop bag inside a rear pannier and stuff my down sleeping bag around it. I have dumped the bike several times without wrecking it.
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Old 08-16-06, 08:42 AM   #11
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Just an update on what I am going to try to do. My Sony Clie UX-50 has bluetooth and wifi built in. My Motorola Razr phone also has bluetooth. I am in the process of trying to link the two together so I can access the internet via bluetooth. Was thinking that I could use the cell to access the internet from pretty well anywhere on the road and can up date my blog via email. I am just checking with Rogers (ISP provider) for local telephone numbers to enable dial up Internet access across the country.

I am only just getting into blogging and have found out that Blogger.com will convert emails into blog entries on the fly but won't transfer pictures. However, I can upload pictures to Flickr and then link my Flickr account to my blog, which will work just as well. Another nice thing too is that we will be carrying a Sony digital camera. Both the UX50 and camera use the same memory sticks so files should be easy to transfer. The only other thing I am going to do is find the drivers for my UX50 that will let me connect it via USB to any library computer and function like an external drive. Right now, the computer requires a driver to be installed in order to see the UX50.

My stoker and I discussed exactly what we needed the laptop for and agreed that it would likely only be for sending emails and updating our blog. The UX50 will easily fit into my handlebar bag, so in the end there is really no point in lugging the laptop with us at all.

Now....if any of you have any tips on how to set up bluetooth between my UX50 and Razr.......please let me know. Not an easy process.............

Thank you all for your ideas.

Cheers
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Old 08-16-06, 09:53 AM   #12
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I think you'll be much better off stopping at Internet cafes and/or libraries every few days. Using a cell phone to upload pictures will be deathly slow, you'll be lucky to get 56kbps, let alone a consistent connection, especially in the more remote areas.
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Old 08-16-06, 10:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdj
Just an update on what I am going to try to do. My Sony Clie UX-50 has bluetooth and wifi built in. My Motorola Razr phone also has bluetooth. I am in the process of trying to link the two together so I can access the internet via bluetooth. Was thinking that I could use the cell to access the internet from pretty well anywhere on the road and can up date my blog via email. I am just checking with Rogers (ISP provider) for local telephone numbers to enable dial up Internet access across the country.

I am only just getting into blogging and have found out that Blogger.com will convert emails into blog entries on the fly but won't transfer pictures. However, I can upload pictures to Flickr and then link my Flickr account to my blog, which will work just as well. Another nice thing too is that we will be carrying a Sony digital camera. Both the UX50 and camera use the same memory sticks so files should be easy to transfer. The only other thing I am going to do is find the drivers for my UX50 that will let me connect it via USB to any library computer and function like an external drive. Right now, the computer requires a driver to be installed in order to see the UX50.

My stoker and I discussed exactly what we needed the laptop for and agreed that it would likely only be for sending emails and updating our blog. The UX50 will easily fit into my handlebar bag, so in the end there is really no point in lugging the laptop with us at all.

Now....if any of you have any tips on how to set up bluetooth between my UX50 and Razr.......please let me know. Not an easy process.............

Thank you all for your ideas.

Cheers
See my suggestion for a cell modem. Mine is $50/mo with unlimited minutes (you'd be shocked how many minutes you use n the net) and MB. Connection over 56K (real speed). Also no fussing with access numbers or weird connections, just uses a PCMCIA slot.
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Old 08-16-06, 09:07 PM   #14
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I have about 1200 miles on my bike, commuting with my laptop. I use a laptop backpack sitting inside a grocery pannier, with a piece of shipping foam between the laptop and the rack.

I haven't had any issues at all, despite one good fall, and a couple minor ones.

If you really want one, and are worried about the laptop's life, get a Panasonic Tough Book, and pay the extra $300 for the no-fault warranty. They'll replace the laptop if it gets broken for ANY reason. Including being left on the sidewalk and getting run over, or dropped off the top of a building, or whatever.
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Old 08-17-06, 12:22 AM   #15
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Quote:
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If you really want one, and are worried about the laptop's life, get a Panasonic Tough Book
That's what we've got! We also got this place to make us a bag for it:

http://www.sfbags.com/index.htm

Fits it really well and provides that extra layer of protection.
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