Bought CF-28 for soldier-son & now need advice!

Discussion in 'Panasonic' started by faith201, Jan 13, 2008.

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  1. faith201

    faith201 Newbie

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    I just bought a basic CF-28MBFAZEM, PIII, 600mhz, 384 RAM, 20GB HD, 12 in touchscreen, WinXP pro. I wanted to give it to my son, who's at USMC tank school, primarily for wireless internet/email during his training and subsequent deployments.

    It was all I could afford, but it's really S-L-O-W and doesn't have ethernet or wifi...

    Can y'all tell me if it's even possible to upgrade with 7200rpm HD, ethernet, Atheros wifi and perhaps backlit keyboard? If so, would you recommend anything else for this laptop that'll be spending a good amount of time in the desert? Or if not, should I just sell it and start over?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Toughbook

    Toughbook Drop and Give Me 20!

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    The 600Mhz is pretty much the slowest around. A better start would have been a 800Mhz or even 1Ghz. A 7200rpm hard drive will boost the speed along with a stick of RAM... But then you have to wonder if it is worth putting money into... You are talking about adding $300 - $400 worth of hardware to it by the time you add everything you want.

    I'm sure others will chime in. Its up to you.
     
  3. picoshark

    picoshark Notebook Consultant

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    For basic communication online, the hardware specs you have should be very adequate. Do you have any idea how old the XP install is? I have been away from Windows for several years myself, but I fix enough computers to know that all operating systems gather cruft that could slow it down after time. If you have a legit XP install disc, you might try a fresh install, that will always make it faster. That may require a search for the needed drivers to make everything work. One of our resident geeks, Modly maintains a good list of drivers for most models of CF-28.

    More or less, every new version of Windows recommends about double the RAM requirements. A fresh install of Windows 2000 will probably be much more responsive than XP. For web and email in your son's arena, I think that reliability would be paramount, and in harsh conditions, a CF-28 is one of the most reliable at any price.

    If you can try fresh installs of the operating system, that would be a zero-dollar way to speed things up (assuming you have proper install discs). All CF-28's have two or three PCMCIA slots, and you can add basic ethernet capability for under USD $10. You can also find PCMCIA Wifi cards for under USD $20. Keep in mind that any PCMCIA card will be sticking out of the side for an inch or more and be very fragile while in use. There are several very nice ways to add ethernet and wifi internally, but they will be more expensive than the old PCMCIA cards.

    I use an 800Mhz CF-28 with 384 meg o' ram, it's main use is communication and I consider it very usable.
     
  4. GlenB

    GlenB Notebook Consultant

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    Anything you buy to upgrade it, can be applied to another machine if you decide to dump it, so I wouldent let that hold you back. Just keep the old hard drive if you remove it.

    You can pick up an 80gb 7200 for ~$65
    The Ethernet and WiFi cards total ~$50
    The Keyboards are kind'a steep last I checked...close to, or right at ~100 so I might re-consider that one if you're strapped for cash.

    You may consider just giving it to him as-is, and let him do the upgrading, either way I'm sure he's going to love it :)

    Semper Fi
    Glen
     
  5. GlenB

    GlenB Notebook Consultant

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    I meant to mention....those prices are e-bay not best-buy...
     
  6. faith201

    faith201 Newbie

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    THANK YOU ALL! I really appreciate all of your responses and also found I had something besides toughbooks in common with each of you... I grew up in Laurel, MD; spend half of my time in Catatonia; and, GlenB, Semper Fi back at you!

    Toughbook, thank you for giving me the big picture re: $$$. Between reading about everyone's awesome mods and being seduced by the "ultimate toughbook" on ebay, I was afraid that there was not a middle ground for my humble tb, but now I have hope...

    picoshark, the laptop came without os, so I did the installation of WinXP. of course, it did install everything, so I was intrigued by your suggestion of an earlier os... I don't have Win2k, but I do have 98 - is that too far back to be helpful? And THANK YOU for the links, prices and explaining about the fragility of the PCMCIA card... now I understand it'll require internal wireless, and that's just the help/advice I was looking for. Do you have any links/suggestions for antennae? Internal? Should I try to find someone to do the external 'first hack' that Toughbook posted last year?

    GlenB, thank you for the costs and suggestion! I think I'll put in the wireless capability and then let my son upgrade it from there! That was a great idea, I hadn't thought about how much fun he could have doing it himself.

    Thanks again,
    Linda
     
  7. GlenB

    GlenB Notebook Consultant

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    I got the ATHEROS WIFI G+ 802.11g/b 108Mbps off ebay. I probably paid too much but I paid $21.95 + $7 shipping.

    I bought a little ufl to ufl pigtail ~3" and just layed it next to the card to act as an internal antenna (just a try to see effect)

    But to do the external mod (a hole needs to be drilled in the plastic side piece)

    Do a search on e-bay for Mini-PCI RP-SMA Pigtail

    Then a search for a wifi antenna with RP-SMA connector.

    Some of the TB's came from the factory with Win98SE
     
  8. stiffnecked

    stiffnecked Notebook Consultant

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    Glen, thanks for helping out Faith201. It sounds like I bought the same Toughbook that he has so I am going to watch this thread close. I wish I could have bought the Ultimate Toughbook but it seems when your on a shoestring budget sometimes you have to tie the broken ends together.
     
  9. picoshark

    picoshark Notebook Consultant

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    Win98 would be very adequate for basic web/email communications. Win98 was useful on machines with half the hardware specs of your Toughbook. The only gotcha I can think of might be sure that whatever wifi card you choose can be used in Win98 with the WPA type of encryption. WPA is newer than Win98, verify that the card has driver support for Win98 if he might need to use WPA encyption for wireless.
     
  10. faith201

    faith201 Newbie

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    I really appreciate all your information and suggestions, but I've decided to sell this one and buy an updated toughbook when (if) I can afford it. Or maybe I should sell the parts off, piece by piece, since it has the HD caddy and all the port covers, which seem to be more in demand... any thoughts?

    Thanks again,
    Linda
     
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