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The perfect cycle tourer's PC?

Discussion in 'Touring and Expedition' started by Brock, 4 Nov 2007.

  1. Brock

    Brock Senior Member

    Location:
    Kent
    Been contemplating carrying a lappy, considering the necessity for something rugged, yet worrying about carrying an expensive lump of kit like a toughbook.. Along comes the Asus Eee PC, more than capable of surfing, blogging, wifi etc. ultra portable, yet perfectly capable, and almost disposable at 200 quids or thereabouts. Is it just what we've been waiting for?

    Written preview:
    http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=3829

    Video hands on:
    http://www.channelflip.com/2007/11/01/asus-eee-pc/
     
  2. Elmer Fudd

    Elmer Fudd Miserable Old Bar Steward

    Brock, If you think £200 is disposable, throw it my way !!
     
  3. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    Seriously, this could be a useful thread. Being faced with a manuscript of War and Peace to write up from India, I would be tempted to put something like that on my Christmas list in preparation for next year's trip.
     
  4. Brock

    Brock Senior Member

    Location:
    Kent
    No worries Elmer! Paypal? Cash? Bunch of fives? ;)

    Does look like a nifty little machine.. I feel an itchy wallet finger coming on.
     
  5. starseven

    starseven Guest

    If you order from neweggyou could get five.
     
  6. Danny

    Danny Guru

    Location:
    York
    If you really need to write up a large manuscript I would go for a small PC compatible laptop like this Sony or a MacBook. Both have real keyboards and a decent size screen - unlike the Assus Eee.

    Ortleib sell a nice padded laptop sleeve which will fit into a pannier, or one of their commuter bags. I've carried a laptop around in one for years on my commute, and its never been damaged even when I've come off the bike.
     
  7. Brock

    Brock Senior Member

    Location:
    Kent
    You could do that yes, if you don't mind carrying an attention grabbing thousand pound piece of kit on tour. Obviously the screen and keyboard are a compromise for space/weight on the Eee, but at a resolution of 800x480 the screen should be reasonable for typing up blogs, checking mail and surfing etc. The keyboard does look a bit cramped for comfortable, speedy touch typing though, admittedly.
    The biggest downside for me would be from a photo manipulation point of view. If I'm running a blog on an extended tour, I might like to have a really good screen to photoshop my dodgy photos before blogging them, in which case I'm back to a full size, expensive lappy.
    On balance I'm far more likely to carry a £200 Eee than a £1500 Sony vaio on any serious cycle/camping tour in the future.

    Especially if they're sending them out in boxes of five as Starseven has shown! :biggrin:
     
  8. Crackle

    Crackle Pah.....

    Location:
    Wirral
    Have you considered a PDA type device with a foldout keyboard. For blogs and mail they're fine, not sure about photo-editing, that might have to wait for an internet cafe but some of them might do it.

    as an example:-

    http://euro.palm.com/uk/en/products/lifedrive/specs.html

    with one of these [scroll down a bit] and a cheap battery AA booster charger or a Solar charger or just plug it in where you are staying.

    The palm is just one example there's also Ipaq's etc... but they're a huge weight and space saving on a laptop.

    Oh. Palm says it does photo editing but what exactly that means I don't know.

    here's one on e-bay
     
  9. Danny

    Danny Guru

    Location:
    York
    I was taking Cathryn litterally when she said she was planning to write her equivalent of War and Peace while she is in India. If you're really doing a lot of writing you need a decent keyboard. Cost is an issue but you can pick up decent second hand kit on eBay if you can manage avoid the scammers.

    However I agree that the Eee, or a PDA with foldable keyboard, would be fine for emails and web surfing.
     
  10. friedel

    friedel New Member

    Location:
    On our bikes!
    I must say we are very pleased with our CF-W4 toughbook from Panasonic (at the lower end of the toughbook range). It was expensive. We got it slightly cheaper from Japan via eBay but still pricey -- about 1200 pounds at the time if I remember right. However, it has withstood over a year of daily use and bumps on the road including a couple falls from the bike. I like a full sized laptop for all the writing and photo work we do and can't imagine working with a pared down keyboard, although if you just plan to check a few emails and write a small journal each night a smaller keyboard/screen would be fine. Don't get over enthusiastic about wifi. It depends where you are of course but we rarely find a signal that we can connect to or even a signal at all. Not much of the world is really wired and with a decent strength signal to make it worth it. We still predominantly use internet cafes to do our uploading and surfing.

    Not worried about security too much. We don't take our laptop out in public places of course but having it stolen from a hotel room is at the bottom of our list of worries. Much more concerned about the bikes!! The laptop is easily covered and replaced by insurance if you are worried.

    As for bags, we can heartily recommend sfbags.com for great protectors for laptops and other goodies.
     
  11. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    I'm thinking about some kind of blackberry number for next year's tour. Lighter and easier to protect than a computer... but you can't see how good photos are on them, that's the problem.
     
  12. Crackle

    Crackle Pah.....

    Location:
    Wirral
    Blackberry's, although better than they were, are still more of a communications device than a PDA. Some PDA phones are beginning to bridge the gap but are still short on the overall functionality of a PDA and are more expensive.

    PDA's come as either Windows or Palm devices (there's some Symbian and other flavours out there too but they are more phones than PDA's). Palm is beginning to fall out of favour, though in my view it still has it in terms of display, speed and sheer wealth of applications you can get cheaply or for free.

    If you want a device to create documents, play music, manage files, play videos, surf the web {limited but usable}, check mail, be an alarm clock, connect your phone as a modem, connect to WiFi, be a thesaurus, run navigation software etc.., etc... and you don't want a laptop then you need a PDA, it will do all of that plus more. Make your choice of a windows or palm device by finding the functionality and programs you need first and then seeing if it will do it. My bet is the Palm will still be the one you choose. Of course you have to be sure first that you can get on with such a small device, many can't so it's necessary to try one if you've never used one before.

    Here's one website which does a lot of PDA reviews and gives some sumaries of what's available, there are many others.

    http://www.mobiletechreview.com

    If you want more of a phone than a PDA look at Orange's own devices, they get good reviews and are Windows based devices.
     
  13. Brock

    Brock Senior Member

    Location:
    Kent
    Just as a quick update to this thread, I bought an EeePC just because I wanted a play with a seriously cute new gadget and I'm pretty impressed. I'm typing on it now, and while the keyboard is teeny, I'm managing to touch type on it pretty fast. In fact, it's pretty cool typing away with such small finger movements. The right shift key is in a slightly unusual place, so that will take a little getting used to, but I reckon it won't take long before I'm up to speed.
    Also, I've found that you can install 'The Gimp' image editor for linux, so post processing on the go is perfectly feasible. There is a good image viewer and organiser already on the machine for the basic stuff. So handy for looking at photos on a much nicer screen than the back of the camera, and for backing them up.
    Since it's easily bar bag size, rugged, cheap and functional, I can't really see why I wouldn't take it.
    It's just niiiice!
    Righty, off to get IRC working on it. ;)
     
  14. Brock

    Brock Senior Member

    Location:
    Kent
    Just as a quick update to this thread, I bought an EeePC just because I wanted a play with a seriously cute new gadget and I'm pretty impressed. I'm typing on it now, and while the keyboard is teeny, I'm managing to touch type on it pretty fast. In fact, it's pretty cool typing away with such small finger movements. The right shift key is in a slightly unusual place, so that will take a little getting used to, but I reckon it won't take long before I'm up to speed.
    Also, I've found that you can install 'The Gimp' image editor for linux, so post processing on the go is perfectly feasible. There is a good image viewer and organiser already on the machine for the basic stuff. So handy for looking at photos on a much nicer screen than the back of the camera, and for backing them up.
    Since it's easily bar bag size, rugged, cheap and functional, I can't really see why I wouldn't take it.
    It's just niiiice!
    Righty, off to get IRC working on it. ;)
     
  15. NickM

    NickM Über Member

    I'm tempted by the Asus/RM machine - but I would want it to be able to carry OS mapping around.

    I know the Eee can run Windows, but that seems rather to miss the point. Is there any OS 1:50,000 mapping package that will run under Linux?

    Alternatively, processor and RAM are just about up to running (e.g.) Tracklogs, but is the solid-state "hard disk" big enough for both Tracklogs and Windows? Or could you put the Tracklogs mapping on an SD card?

    There's also this:

    http://www.packardbell.co.uk/produc...te-XS20-006/productsheet-PC02F00501-1256.html

    ...which would have no difficulty in running Tracklogs. But the company has an association with PC World and Dixon's which I find very off-putting.
     
  16. Brock

    Brock Senior Member

    Location:
    Kent
    I'm not at all familiar with linux software, but as far as I can tell there's no OS mapping program available. OS are pretty tight with their licensing, and Linux, being open source and free presumably doesn't fit into their business model very well.

    I was after an Autoroute alternative myself, and haven't been able to get anywhere with that either.

    If you were to run tracklogs on an Eee with XP installed, my guess is that you'd run the maps off an SD card or usb key/drive. The Eee accepts SDHC cards, so you can slip 8 gigs in pretty cheaply and tidily.

    Frankly if I were you I'd hang on and see what develops in the 'sub notebook' market in the new year, but, buy an Eee in the meantime anyway, it's a cracking little piece of kit... If you can find one, there's a bit of a shortage at the moment.

    More helpful advice would probably be forthcoming at the Eeeuser forums.
     
  17. NickM

    NickM Über Member

    Well this might be the answer:

    http://www.landserf.org/

    "...can be used for displaying maps, calculating elevation profiles and transferring routes and waypoints to/from the GPS. It does not include any OS digital mapping but can import maps if you have access to them. Unlike most of the other products this will also work with MacOSX and Linux as well as Windows".