Seeking opinions on rugged/semi-rugged laptop for long-term use in RV

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by Skyhook, May 17, 2019.


If you have used both on a regular basis, which do you prefer?

  1. CF-19

    0 vote(s)
  2. CF-31

    0 vote(s)
  3. Other

    0 vote(s)
  1. Skyhook

    Skyhook Newbie

    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Greetings forum,
    I am seeking opinions and experiences regarding options for a laptop for an upcoming extended(indefinite) RV trip. I will insert my completed questionnaire below, but first wanted to explain my situation.

    My family will shortly be selling our house and moving into our 30' RV for as long as money will carry us. We plan on spending as much as four or five days each week in locations without internet or outside power; we do have a generator. I am interested in a rugged or semi-rugged laptop because of general environmental considerations(dust, vibration, children etc) and hopefully elevated build quality compared to mass-market laptops.
    I have next to no experience with laptops; I have used PCs since I was a kid and although my wife has always kept a laptop for herself, I haven't ever had the need. My present computer is a Dell Optiplex 745, Core2 Duo 1.86GHz running Windows XP, 4GB RAM, ASUS EAH5450 and it pretty much meets my needs, although more speed and memory would be nice.

    This will be a family-use computer, so it will be used for office-type tasks such as word processing, spreadsheet production etc, educational tasks such as math software and the like for my chlidren, and of course gaming(mainly "classic" games, probably nothing less than ten years old) when I get a chance. I do some very basic work with Inkscape and GIMP as a hobby.

    I'm posting a poll below, just for fun because I've never begun a forum poll before ;)

    Thanks for reading!

    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?
    As much as 700. Lower is better.

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    a. Ultraportable; 10" - 12" screen
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
    d. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen

    Any would be acceptable for me. I am more concerned with features than size. I would prefer 13" or greater but it is not critical. I'm not expecting to be able to get any bigger given my other wants.

    3) Which country will you buying this notebook?
    I am located in USA, but wouldn't mind shipping in. A lot of the refurb options seem to be located in Canada.

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    a. Like: I don't have a particular preference. I do like the features, design and ubiquity of the Toughbook line but am open to alternatives. There seems to be ten sources, reviews or articles on Toughbooks for every one on a competitor, and the forums here seem to be a particularly good resource for the Toughbooks.
    b. Dislike: don't particularly care for HP or General Dynamics for philosophical reasons.

    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
    I am fully expecting to purchase refurbished, given my requirements and price range.

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    Mostly casual use. Internet browsing, home-office type work, gaming, some home video editing and vector graphics work(as a hobby, again not terribly demanding). I want at least a semi-rugged laptop. I have experienced case and hinge issues with prior laptops(granted, second-hand or older laptops, but still) and want to avoid buying something built with flimsy material in order to cut down on weight or cost.

    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    It will be the primary family computer on an RV trip. It will be used "indoors" in the sense that it won't be carted around to job sites and whatnot, however it won't be protected from wind and dust as well as a typical home computer would be.

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? (If so, please state which games or types of games?)
    Yes, however nothing especially graphics-intensive or demanding. The most recent or intensive games I can think of that I will be playing are ARMA, Dwarf Fortress, Fallout 3, IL-2, Morrowind and STALKER(Shadow of Chernobyl and Clear Sky). I will be using DOSBox a whole bunch, as well.

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
    Three or four hours of moderate use would be sufficient. It will be plugged in to charge during travel or while stopped overnight at a facility with power.

    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK?
    It would be nice, but I don't expect it to be possible.

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc.
    Windows at least. I will not be the only user and my wife won't be bothered to learn to use Linux. I do wish to install Mint as well. I *do not want* Windows 10. I have been very disappointed in Win10 at my workplace, and frankly would be quite happy with XP for compatibility purposes if not for the end of support. I am undecided between Windows 7 and 8.1. I use 7 32-bit at work and it seems all right. I have minimal experience with 8.1. I am interested in the opinions or personal experiences of forum members.

    Screen Specifics

    12) What screen resolution(s) would you prefer? (See further below for explanations.)
    Many of the options I've found offer only 1024x768. Better resolution would be cool if possible, however I *really* like the touchscreen option on the Toughbooks, and as far as I know that option only exists on the CF-19 and -31.

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (See further below for explanations.)
    Probably matte. I am attracted to the sunlight-viewable screen available on some Toughbooks.

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
    Not particularly, although rugged laptops do have a cool factor ;)

    Notebook Components

    15) How much hard drive space do you need?
    320GB at a minimum, more is better. I will be converting much of my CD and DVD game collection to ISOs for convenience(I will have a USB optical drive, but I don't want to have it connected at all times).

    Timing, Warranty and Longevity

    16) When are you buying this laptop?
    Within the next week or two.

    17) How long do you expect to use this laptop?
    Realistically, until it dies of old age. I tend to buy computers a generation or two old anyway, and the kids will make use of it if I get a newer one myself.

    18) How long could you afford to do without your laptop if it were to fail?
    It's for personal use. I would make do until repairs were possible.

    19) Would you be willing to pay significantly extra for on-site warranty, or would it be acceptable to you to have to ship the laptop to the vendor for repair with perhaps a week or more outage?
    I expect to perform repairs myself.

    Thank you for reading, and thanks in advance for any replies and thoughts! I have gained much already from reading prior posts here.
    - Ben
  2. Skyhook

    Skyhook Newbie

    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    I forgot to mention two things:
    I pretty much only get to use my computer at night, so the backlit keyboard option on Toughbooks. I’m not exactly a touch typist, especially on a compact laptop keyboard, so having illuminated keys sounds helpful.

    Also, I have never had a computer with integrated graphics. The CF-19, as far as I know, only is available with Intel onboard graphics, but the CF-31 had optional ATI dedicated graphics. How important is that to gaming(keeping in mind that I’m not playing anything super demanding)?

    Thanks again!
  3. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Then what?

    Given that your budget is somewhat limited, a rugged notebook like a ToughBook, though well built, will get you a notebook that's much older and will be less useful over the long run. For the same money you can get a business class notebook that's more modern and still pretty stout, just not as good as a ToughBook. Nothing in life is a risk free proposition. Good luck.
  4. User32

    User32 Notebook Deity

    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Stay away from Toughbooks if you're going to game, they run really, REALLY hot. Even the CF-31 easily hits 100C when doing something intensive.

Share This Page