Robs rant and rave thread against anything that isn't a Toughbook!

Discussion in 'Panasonic' started by Rob, Feb 24, 2010.

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  1. chalkface

    chalkface Newbie

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    hey guys, thanks so much for the quick responses....Definitley will sit down tomorrow and take all your input into consideration and choose what comes out as best..from your replies i am already way more informed on toughbooks compared to the lengthy research session of this morning.....really, thanks hugely guys.

    BTW..captain dogfish mentioned that my budget is 150 bucks...I am actually happy to go as far as 300 bucks for something worthwhile. For anyone opening the link then that comes to around 6 million dong. I could stretch to 9 or 10 million but with the amount spent on duff thinkpads over the past 5 or 6 years I dont want to overdo it.

    My long term plan is to acquire a second hand toughbook at under 300 bucks, and if its still going strong after 2 years or so, without any major unfixable faults, then I might buy a brand new one with modern specs and hope that sorts my computer needs for the next 5 to 7 years, perhaps even longer.

    Its interesting that some of you guys rate thinkpads as the next best thing to a toughbook...I mean since the R51 model, thinkpads have been largely a lenovo thing with everything coming from china and including assembly personally I would rate the thinkpad T60 as physically the most rugged of the thinkpads i have, with zero flex on the chassis...but the components are nothing that you wouldnt find on any other laptop of that era (2006/2007). My T60s have had loads of harddrive issues, screen issues, ram issues, and 1 was even rendered dead due to ants making a nest inside, which basically screwed the motherboard. .the Thinkpad t40's that I have suffer from the infamous GPU issue, as well as one booting up and then turning itself off, but not before claiming that a "fan error" is the cause just before it zonks x2 thinkpad T42's appear to have fared the best because I have the 15inch models which people say are less prone to the GPU flex issue, and also seem to have a semi-durable array of inner workings...that said, one of them has also succumbed to the "fan error" fault as with the T40...I have had different fans in both the T40 and the T42 but it doesnt seem to cut any ice...regardless what fan i throw in there, they still claim "fan error" as the cause of the problem before promptly shutting down...I dunno, maybe I am just not lucky. My mate in the UK HAS BEEN USING 2 X T43'S HE BOUGHT SECOND HAND OVER 4 YEARS AGO NOW WITH THE ONLY FAULT BEING THAT ONE HAD A HARDDRIVE DIE ON HIM....Ooh blimey..please ignore those caps i didnt realise i nudged the caps button....

    As for the worst of my thinkpads..that accolade goes to the T410...I only bought it 4 months ago and was confident of the next 2 years being laptop fault free, but within 4 months the power input socket at the back has come totally loose, the screen has developed a serious issue which got increasingly worse until all i can get from youtube vids is a bunch of erratic and meaningless verticle lines (apparently a common issue with T410), and it also seems to have some major heat issues.. ..I forked out 350 dollars for that thing second hand and i think its the T410 that finally broke the camels back as far as my obssession with thinkpads went. I figured that most of my thinkpads were around 10 years old which was pushing things a bit too far, and so went for a 3 year old model. When i got it the exterior looked mint, and it still is, but the innards have been a huge let down.....i wont be buying anymore recent or historical thinkpad laptops anymore because everyone seems to say the same thing.....thinkpads have gone downhill since the T60 and they continue to go that way, and the older, supposedly more robust thinkpads are all over 10 years old now.

    Not long ago I did some extensive research and i came away with the idea that the last 100% IBM thinkpad was the R51, which i suppose includes the T40 and T41as pure IBM laptops as well. So anything from a late T41/R51 is a lenovo machine to varying degrees. The T41 and R51 are 11 year old you have to go back at least a decade to get a bonafide IBM thinkpad. People often think the entire T4x range was IBM's swansong, with lenovo taking over from the T60 onwards, but apparently not.

    Before deciding on a toughbook i did a long search into 100% japanese laptops but came away with the impression that panasonic toughbooks, and possibly NEC laptops, are the only fully Japanese made laptops left are supposedly no longer an exclusive japanese thing anymore..neither are toshibas or any other "japanese" brand. I could be wrong about the NEC laptops being 100% japanese because I couldnt find any rock solid evidence saying they were still entirely japanese...which just leaves the toughbooks. Luckily the more i look at them the more they are growing on me actually. I used to think they were only for military types or people on expeditions, or just eccentric types, but i see now that they have a semi-rugged line catering to the mainstream business market. The bottom line for me is that I figure they cant be worse than thinkpads, esp the latter thinkpads (T400 onwards). I once had an 600E IBM thinkpad and that had an air of durability about it that I have only seen replicated in the T60 with its no-nonsense rock solid chassis and very firm but nice keyboard....the T4x range has major flex issues regarding the outer shell, mine are mint condition yet creak badly even when picking up carefully with 2 hands, and that is a bummer when you have the dodgy GPU thing hovering over one's IBM ever got away without a money-back total recall over that GPU issue is beyond me. Its the reason i got the 15 inch T42 machines I have now.....mind you they were absolutely mint condition and I considered tham to be a steal at just 100 dollars per laptop....a real bargain considering the overall pristine condition...until the fan error kicked in on one of them. Great keyboards though. I guess that one of these days i will lug all 5 of my "hopefully repairable" thinkpads to a decent repair shop and have the lot put back in action.....still....I am now hot on the toughbook trail. With those cheap prices and my budget of 300 bucks i might even pick up 2 of them.....likely the same models so if one becomes faulty I can raid spares from the other one.

    anyway...thanks again guys....well appreciated.....will let you know how i get on

    One question...those toughbook prices here in Vietnam...are they cheaper or largely the same as similar toughbooks go for in the west? The Vietnam prices seem pretty cheap to me when you consider how much toughbooks cost brand new.

  2. Shawn

    Shawn Crackpot Search Ninja and Options Whore

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    mklym is our resident Thinkpad expert. i am sure he will join the conversation later today.
    Kent T likes this.
  3. ADOR

    ADOR Evil Mad Scientist

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    I didn't go to the link, but will give my thoughts on each model.

    1# Panasonic CF-N9 core i5

    I haven't personally used one, but have used the older series up to series 8. Thin and light weight, 12" screen. Nice for traveling, but have seen some of them with busted cases after high drops. This would give you a newer processer and SATA hookup.

    2# Panasonic Toughbook CF-C1 i5-2520

    Several other member on here have or have had them and liked them, haven't put my hands on one yet. Small and light business class machine.

    3# Panasonic Toughbook CF-30

    I have had several and currently have 3. Very strong fully rugged machines and can be customized in a lot of ways. Older tech but still works well.

    4# Panasonic CF-S10

    another small and light weight business class machine, haven't had one yet.

    5# Panasonic CF-W7 2Gb

    I have 2 left and have had 4 so far, small and light weight 1.05 or 1.2 core duo machines, takes full sized laptop ram. The 5 series back took micro ram. SATA hookup on the hard drive. This one doesn't have a touch screen, but has a built in DVD player.

    6# Panasonic CF-T7

    Same as above but with touch, no built in DVD, good for travel.

    7# Panasonic CF-R7 10"

    Another small and light weight business class machine.

    8# Panasonic CF-W8

    Upgrade of the 7 series small and light weight business class machine. 1.2 or 1.6 core 2 duo, some of these even come from the factory with windows 7, sata hook up. Good for travel.

    9# Panasonic CF-74 P8600

    Not looking at the specs but will give you a basic run down of the 74 series. Semi rugged, all core duo or core 2 duo. Look for a Mk3 or Mk4 with 2.0 and 3100 or 2.4 with 4500 intel graphics. DDR2 ram. Good basic laptop in a semi rugged shell. All my kids are using one right now. Lower resolution screen though.

    10# Panasonic CF-74

    read above

    11# Panasonic cf-29

    Good, fully rugged, but I would skip is as a every day pc because of the age, ddr 1 ram, single core, ide hard drive.

    12# Panasonic CF-T8

    read above on the 8 series

    13# Panasonic ToughBook CF-52

    I am thinking this will be your best bet. Early ones were core 2 duo, later ones i3 or i5. DDR2 or DDR3 ram depending on the age. Some have higher resolution screens and ATI graphics. Semi rugged shell, wide screen. I have three and like them.

    14# Panasonic CF-Y5

    15" thin and light business class series. Think it take mico ram, expensive and harder to find. limits ram upgrade, ide hard drives, Unless it's a very good deal price wise I would skip it. has a dvd drive though.

    15# Panasonic CF Y7 (after the model number it says "these are just in and look like new")

    read up on my thoughts above on the 7 series above. The Y is 15" not 12" and has dvd drive.

    Also for temp if you have a few laptops just laying around you can't use because of motherboard issues you can try the "oven" trick on them. Google it. Please just don't sell them as good afterwards because it may last a day, it may still be running a couple of years later. But before you find your perfect toughbook it may get you by until then.

    Also in Japan in the panasonic business class series they them "let's note" so that may widen your search some.

    SHEEPMAN! Freelance

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    Not to start an argument but the only 52 I would go for is the 52GUNBRAM or similar.......if it is going outside a good deal of the time. Same screen as the CF-30. Wide bezel around the screen. Red leds shining on the keyboard from the screen bezel. Handy SD card slot. Synaptics touch pad. My daily user is at 26,000 hours. (The other four have less)
    If it's really going outside the CF-30 no question.

    2 cents......easy guys.....
  5. Rob

    Rob Toughbook Aficionado

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    My THREAD LIVES On!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D :p
    ADOR and KCETech1 like this.
  6. ajkula66

    ajkula66 Courage and Consequence

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    My personal experiences, as someone who spent 15 years with ThinkPads and about a decade with (selected) ToughBook/Let's Note models...

    Used it in the field for two years and had zero issues to report. If you're happy with T60-grade-performance, CF-30 will do just fine. My only complaint was the (lack of) screen resolution. Heavy little ba$tard, though...

    Versatile little machines, with W7 being my personal preference due to an on-board media drive.

    The toughest 10" notebook you're likely to find anywhere. Keyboard feels quite cramped, though, and the typing feel is sub-par due to the short key travel.

    Newer version of W7. Likeable unit.

    Nice machines, business tough and then some, but once again available as XGA (1024x768) only if this matters to you.

    Great machines for their day, severely outdated now IMO. Think T41/T42 era...

    Likely the best pick of the litter, especially if you can find one with a WUXGA (1920x1200) LCD.

    Another T60 contemporary with similar performance, but I'd avoid it due to the fact it utilizes PATA/IDE drives.

    One of my favourites, due to the 14" SXGA+ (1400x1050) LCD and SATA drive standard. While somewhat of a lightweight offering, it's still quite tough.

    My $0.02 only...

    Happy shopping.

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  7. Kent T

    Kent T Notebook Virtuoso

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    Impressions on laptops I have owned or repaired.

    IBM/Lenovo ThinkPads. Generally good boxes. Not too bad to repair or upgrade. Well made most of the time. The T60 for me is really the last of the classic ThinkPads as we know them.

    Toshiba Satellites. They feel bendy, are cheaply made. Battery life is horrible when new (1.5 hours the best you get). AC Charger jacks weak items, occasional motherboard and BIOS woes. Support from Toshiba is horrible bad.

    NEC Versa. My only experience has been with my 1997 6230. It was very ergonomic. Very well built (one of the few Non-Toughbooks I ever loved). Mine lasted nearly 8 years of heavy use. Support from NEC superb. Screen backlight did fail when 3 years old.

    Dell. Not very impressed with most Dells. Inspirons only fair build quality. AC power jacks very common failure items. Keyboards on Inspirons often on the frail side. Common weakness is user abuse. Dell Latitudes. D620 and D630 good well built old boxes. Usually don't see a lot of them with issues. Cracked bezels occasionally. Dell Latitude E 5500 and E 5510. My favorite Dells since the old Latitude CPi lines. Very well made. Reliable, easy to repair and upgrade (they rarely need repair unless dropped or liquid spills). I have and use a E 5510 (neighbor works for the town dump, saw this and rescued it for me. Fixed the bent keyboard. Cleaned the cooling vents. Cleaned the keyboard and replaced a key cap. Reseated every connector. Reloaded Windows 7 Pro, upgraded small HD and RAM and installed DVD-RW. Works great.). Easy to maintain.

    Sony. Well built and reliable up to 3 years ago. A beastie to repair. Upgrades much more difficult. Driver support horrible. Never liked AMD models and they were the least reliable Sony models.

    HP. Pavillion DV series motherboards guaranteed to be bad. Screen hinges often loose. AC sockets usually reliable. Flexy and build quality poor. Same go for most Pavillons and Envy models. HP Support bad. Commonly makes me want to shoot one with my 'lil friend. HP ProBooks usually decent (do see a few models with keyboards which get sticky easily like the consumer lines). Reliable otherwise. AMD models seem to have the rare bad motherboard. EliteBooks. Excellent machines but not as good as the best IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad lines. Dislike the oddball case screws (do have the drivers for them). Well built. Don't see many to repair. Do see occasional models for upgrades. As the Lenovo ThinkPads get worse on build quality, most of the users I support in IT are getting HP EliteBooks or getting Dell Latitude 5000, 6000, or 7000 series unless they need ToughBooks.

    Compaq: See lots of Presarios. Even worse build quality than Pavillions. Every Pavillion weakness even worse. Cheap and flexy. Keyboards among the worst on build quality. Motherboard issues common (AMD models especially so). AC Power Jacks a weakness. Cheap and Nasty.

    Acer: Keyboards on some models get junk in them easily and dust and dirt. Generally decently made. Motherboards usually reliable. AC Power Jacks sometimes prone to repairs (less so than on HP, Compaq, and Toshibas). Some models feel a bit too flexy for my taste. Aspires good cheap laptops. But must be babied. Same goes for E-Machines and Gateways (usually see more Gateways with problems)

    Saved the best for last. Panasonic ToughBooks. Both my ToughBooks have been trouble free. And they have survived spastic life in wheelchairs and every fall and tumble I ever could not help happening to them. They work, work more, and work even more. In bad weather and good, and stable and reliable as there ever was made. My CF-30 has been to hell and back without one complaint. Works every time.
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