It's new laptop time here on Take Two. 

It’s an endurance test for Tanya's machines.  She squeezes about 5years out of them, by which point they're literally falling apart.  It'shard duty too.  Drops, spills, kids.  Mine get more use, but I'mgenerally nicer to them.  I depend on them heavily though, so I typicallyget a new one every 12-18 months whether I need it or not.  I still haveoccasional failures, and even though I pay for next-business-day on-sitesupport, it doesn't always work out that way.  So when I get a new one, theold one becomes a backup.

Lots of people we know use netbooks on their boats.  The theory beingthey're cheap and easily replaceable.  We have one, but the only use we'vefound for it is teaching the kids to type.  It's cute, but it isn't aserious computer, and neither of us can bring ourselves to use itseriously.  I've considered switching us to Macs.  I think the Macshave reached a level of maturity and market acceptance to make them viable forme.  Simultaneously, as my usage skill trends more toward the median I'verealized the overall suckage of Windows.  But Macs are too expensive forwhat we subject our computers to.  The ports on the laptop I've used forthe last year and a half are actually starting to corrode.

I've also had trouble with heat.  Modern machines are designed to runin air conditioned offices and they just can't cope with tropical climes. During the summer my laptop's fan would be running full tilt boogie 24/7, andin direct sunlight it would just roll over and die.

I considered ruggedized computers like the Panasonic Toughbook, but they areridiculously expensive and the specs aren't even that great.  We'relong-time Dell customers and Dell does have a rugged laptop called the XFR, butit has a starting price of $3800.  The specs are better, but it is stillridiculously expensive and looks like it belongs to Robocop. 

In between is their "semi-rugged" laptop called the ATG.  Tanyahas dubbed it the All-Terrain Gadget.  Shealso thinks the term “semi-rugged” is somehow fitting for me.  It is essentially just a business-classLatitude, which I have been using exclusively for the last 10+ years, but itcan tolerate higher temperatures, humidity, dust, vibration, and has asunlight-viewable display.  I decided that was the way to go and onearrived today.

While I'm moving into the new computer, I have the old E6400 and the newE6410ATG side-by-side on my desk.  For the most part the ATG looks andfeels just like the regular Latitude.  I don't know what might bedifferent under the covers, but the chassis is only slightly different. The back part of the base is wrapped in a rubber sleeve that includes portcovers.  These covers should prevent the corrosion the old one has.  Butthe sleeve also covers the E-Port on the bottom for Dell's port replicators anddocking stations.  I can see the E-Port is there, but I don't see how itcould be used.  The ATG's lid is more substantial and has a slightly morerugged look.  It weighs a little bit more and the screen is indeedbrighter.  Everything else appears to be the same.

We’ll see how it looks in a year.