eHam Forums => Computers And Software => Topic started by: N4UE on March 24, 2008, 06:44:11 PM

Title: Need recommendation for laptop, please.
Post by: N4UE on March 24, 2008, 06:44:11 PM
Hello. Long time ham here. I would like to pick up a used laptop for use in the shack. Not being a PC 'expert', I would like some recommendations on what exactly I need, before I head to good 'ole ePay, er, eBay.

I will be using it for meteor scatter, loging, antenna analysis, etc, nothing real exotic.
My girlfriend just bought a new Acer at Wal Mart and it looks pretty nice. Since she is a Manager there, with her employee discount, it was pretty darn cheap. However, being a typical 'thrifty' ham, I thought that a used laptop would be an even better deal.

Thanks in advance!



Title: Need recommendation for laptop, please.
Post by: KG4RUL on March 25, 2008, 03:43:38 AM
My current laptop was purchased as a "refurbished" unit from Tiger Direct.  I had specific requirements for this unit: a REAL serial port, 1GB of memory, lots of screen resolution and WIN XP installed.  I was able to get a COMPAQ EVO that meets all my requirements.

Title: Need recommendation for laptop, please.
Post by: WA7NCL on March 25, 2008, 08:22:45 AM
I use a laptop I got free.  Its a 300 Mhz Celeron with 512meg memory running win98.

I would suggest you try to go with something that will run win98 real well and try to spend less than $50.  Most ham software will run just fine under win98.

Most old dog laptops will have bad batteries.  Mine is no exception.  But they will run fine off of the AC supply.

The old ones with NiCad or NiMH batteries can many times be run off 12VDC if you hack the battery case and add some wires out to the outside world.

The new ones with Li batts have a voltage that is higher than 12V as don't run off 12V direcly.

Be careful buying used laptops.  Its easy to overpay.  There are piles of old laptops being replaced by buisnesses and many individuals have one tossed in the closet.  If you can find them, you can get them for free.  On eham and ebay you find people trying to sell them at prices that are way too high.  They seem to think that if they paid 1K$ 5 years ago, the thing is still valuable.  If you consider what some of the new ones are going for now, that certainly is not the case.

Title: Need recommendation for laptop, please.
Post by: KE4DRN on March 25, 2008, 02:45:12 PM
hi ron,

I would avoid win 98, obsolete os and memory hog,
rig control s/w no longer supports win 98.

win 2000 pro or xp much more stable and better memory management.

take a look at ibm thinkpads, just off lease direct
from IBM with 7 day return policy and free ups shipping.

you just add your sales tax.  complete with win xp too.

new stuff everyday check the site often.

also lcd display off lease at great prices.

73 james

Title: Need recommendation for laptop, please.
Post by: W5CPT on March 25, 2008, 03:00:09 PM

I got my last one from there.  Good prices and good service.  Mine had a non-chargeable battery but that was listed in the description. That was no problem for me as I was going to use it in the shack plugged in.

Clint - W5CPT

normal disclaimer applies - no pecuniary interest in company

Title: Need recommendation for laptop, please.
Post by: POOBA53 on March 25, 2008, 08:45:00 PM
I would steer clear of anything older than Windows 2000. I've had good luck with T Series ThinkPads from

Title: Need recommendation for laptop, please.
Post by: K3AN on April 02, 2008, 05:51:13 PM
I have had several Thinkpads for use in the shack and at Field Day. They are robust, have decent keyboards, don't generate RFI, and aren't bothered by RF from the rig (never used a linear, however) even with direct (open collector K1EL-type) serial port keying and PTT connections.

Get one that has Win-XP already loaded on it.

Title: Need recommendation for laptop, please.
Post by: RADIONEWB on May 19, 2008, 07:18:59 PM
HP / Compaq Laptops are usually work horse's, at least in my opinion, having worked on them for some time, along with many other brands of laptops and desktops.

Plus if your handy, most of them are modular, and very simple to replace parts, and replacement parts are readily available threw Ebay, and other more reputable sources :)

As for model's and features, you can pretty much pick what you want, just shop around for the best prices.

Title: Need recommendation for laptop, please.
Post by: 5R8GQ on May 31, 2008, 11:03:49 AM
I've take my Toshiba laptop around the world (literally) about 3 times now and it is still going strong. It is an OLD one, a 120 P1 with 64 Megs of RAM
running WinBlows 95 and a dead battery but it does everything that I need it to do for ham radio: Logging, digital modes, download photos from my digital camera (slow). Most ham programs do not take a lot of procesor power or memory, or at least the ones I use: Writelog, LOG EQF, Digipan, MMTTY, MMSTTY, etc.

Why buy something you don't need?
A new laptop for ham radiois a terrible investment,
will depreciate %50 the minute you walk out the door with it. So many cprporations unload used laptops because they give their execs new ones every 2-3 years.
For $300 TOPS you can get one that will handle all of your ham radio needs.