Adding Serial/Firewire to Laptop w/cardbus

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by nonprophet, Feb 11, 2004.

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  1. nonprophet

    nonprophet Notebook Enthusiast

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    Hello!

    I use a laptop in my job as a captain. I link a laptop to the autopilot and a GPS. Seatalk and NMEA are the standard comm protocol for most nav equipment, and thus a 9-pin serial connection is used. My problem is that VERY few newer laptops come with a serial port, and even fewer come with a serial port AND firewire (need firewire for my iPod and Nikon film scanner). I know that there are USB-serial converters, but I've heard very mixed reviews on those--some seem to work with Garmin/Magellan GPs and some don't--most people seem to suggest that you need a "hard-wired" serial port for a good connection. I've also seen pci/cardbus serial ports adaptors, and wonder how those would fare? Also, some manufacturers (i.e. Toshiba, Dell, and Sony) sell port replicators that snap into a connector on the bottom of the laptop. Most of these have a serial port, and thus you can "add" a serial port with a replicator to a laptop that does not have a serial port to begin with.....so I guess my question is if I have to narrow my search so much to only laptops with a serial port, what alternative (ie. cardbus or port replicator) would be the most stable?? Lastly, if I buy a laptop without firewire, can you add firewire capabilities by just buying a firewire pci/cardbus card?? (I wouldn't have to use both a firewire AND serial pci/cardvus card at the same time--most laptops come with one or the other, just usually not with both--at least in my price range[:)])

    Thanks so much for your help/advice!!!
     
  2. srdhkl

    srdhkl Notebook Evangelist NBR Reviewer

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    I would probably suggest getting a port replicator, mainly because I think for your purposes it would be better to have your cardbus slot open for other things (for instance, adding a firewire card, or extra USB card). And I think using a cardbus would drain battery more than a port replicator. I also think a port replicator would be more stable.

    And if you ever needed to add fireware, they absolutely do sell firewire cards that go into your pcmcia slot (slots on the sides of notebooks.

    I may suggest looking at the Dell Inspiron 8600. This computer comes with both a serial port and a firewire port. I'm not sure what your price range is but you could get a decent one for $1500-1600


    Hope that helps.
     
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