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Thread: Traveling with a Laptop

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    univers zero tessler's Avatar
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    Traveling with a Laptop

    I'm a desktop guy from way back but for the first time will be traveling with a laptop. Where do you safely stow your laptop on your bike and what do you use and/or recommend to store it in, both on and off the bike (besides a typical briefcase-style laptop bag)?

    Thanks in advance for your response.

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    Rally Rat empeg9000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tessler View Post
    I'm a desktop guy from way back but for the first time will be traveling with a laptop. Where do you safely stow your laptop on your bike and what do you use and/or recommend to store it in, both on and off the bike (besides a typical briefcase-style laptop bag)?

    Thanks in advance for your response.
    Well my laptop is a 15" but I just use a padded neoprene case and put it into my topcase on the RT. I know you don't have one on the K-Bike though. I bet you are probably a mac guy since you do a lot of graphics but my friends has an eee pc and has windows fundamentals on it. It books fast and is only 10". I have carried that in a tank bag. You can also put linux on it like I have on my work eee. That is only for work purposes though so I don't generally take that on trips.

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    Registered User texanrt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by empeg9000 View Post
    Well my laptop is a 15" but I just use a padded neoprene case and put it into my topcase on the RT. I know you don't have one on the K-Bike though. I bet you are probably a mac guy since you do a lot of graphics but my friends has an eee pc and has windows fundamentals on it. It books fast and is only 10". I have carried that in a tank bag. You can also put linux on it like I have on my work eee. That is only for work purposes though so I don't generally take that on trips.
    Have you ever had trouble with the hard drive after a ride? I ask because on a recent trip one of the guy's laptops wouldn't boot. After another day the video card wouldn't work. It was stored in the top case during the 4-day trip inside a protective sleeve -- but apparently that wasn't enough.
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    Rally Rat empeg9000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexanRT View Post
    Have you ever had trouble with the hard drive after a ride? I ask because on a recent trip one of the guy's laptops wouldn't boot. After another day the video card wouldn't work. It was stored in the top case during the 4-day trip inside a protective sleeve -- but apparently that wasn't enough.
    Knock on wood not yet. I can see how that could happen though. That's one reason I am thinking about the eee pc over a regular laptop. They have solid state memory.

    I honestly don't take a laptop with me that often. I have only done it about 5 times.

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    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    That's one reason I am thinking about the eee pc over a regular laptop.
    Exactly what I was thinking of doing, except I am going with the hard drive not the SSHD due to size and expense. The prices are starting to fall and I think by this time next year you'll see 64gig or larger SSHDs instead of the tiny 8gig ones you get now in the ~$400 and under market. When the 64gig SDHD's hit the $80 mark in 6 months or so, I will probably pick one up and swap it out.

    This is the NetBook I really like.

    I love my 15.4" laptop and it goes with me wherever I go, but while it is almost as powerful as my desktop, it is heavy and big. The Netbook will hopefully meet a few concerns I would have about taking the 15.4" on a bike...

    1. Size/Weight. The Samsung is about a third the weight of my Gateway. At 10" by 7", smaller than a sheet of paper, it is much smaller, and at an inch thick, much thinner. This is critical not only because it could literally fit in a tankbag, but because the smaller size will allow me to more effectively protect and isolate it from the damaging effects of vibration and sudden shock.

    2. Power. This little sucker already comes with the very efficient ATOM processor, matched with a 6-cell battery you are looking at 5+ hours of real use. My Gateway, also with a 6-cell battery, only gets about 2 hours.

    3. Power part 2. It comes with a sizeable 160gig hard drive, plenty of room for secondary computer use. The processor is not terribly fast, but can easily tackle my on-road needs with aplomb (ie I won't be maxing frame rates in WOW, but it will handle Office, Photoshop and Google Earth without breaking a sweat.) It comes with a minimal 1gig or RAM, easily upgraded to a decent 2gigs, and a decent 10.2" 1024x600 screen instead of the minimal 8" 800x600 found on many of the ones just $50 cheaper. Lastly, it comes with USB ports (for GPS & iPod), a card slot for the digicam, and even Bluetooth.

    4. Security. I worry about it being stolen. With a "road-use-only" Netbook I can transfer what I need to my desktop and then use CCleaner to wipe it clean after a roadtrip. During the roadtrip, just do things like use CCleaner to clear cache and cookies after use, require login in Outlook and the like, and if need be, encrypt docs and password protect directories.

    The only downside is there is no DVD drive to watch movies, but with AnyDVD and the 160gig HD, I figure I can load a few before I leave
    Ted
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    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted View Post
    Exactly what I was thinking of doing, except I am going with the hard drive not the SSHD due to size and expense. The prices are starting to fall and I think by this time next year you'll see 64gig or larger SSHDs instead of the tiny 8gig ones you get now in the ~$400 and under market. When the 64gig SDHD's hit the $80 mark in 6 months or so, I will probably pick one up and swap it out.

    This is the NetBook I really like.

    Ted, "cheap" 64Gb SSDs are here: http://www.crucial.com/store/partspe...CT64SSDN125P05. The ones from Crucial are highly reliable but not as fast as a mechanical drive. Intel is making SSDs that are *faster* than conventional drives - but more expensive. Actually, modern laptop hard drives are pretty tough. I think the key is to pack them to avoid hard shocks. A laptop carried in a bag with cloths or extra riding gear is pretty well padded against shocks and high frequency vibrations.

    I've traveled for years with first an IBM X40 and then Lenovo X61 super skinny (and expensive) laptops carried in a Helen's bag without problems. Pelican (www.pelican.com) makes some nice laptop cases to protect against vibration, dirt, water, and impact. However, starting a month ago, I bought a 160Gb HD Acer Aspire One netbook. It's so small and light it fits nicely many places, and as a factory refurb it was only $220! The smaller form factor also makes the case more resistant to side loads than the X40 or X61 so less likely I'll mash the screen into the keyboard from overpacking.
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    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    "cheap"
    When it hits $80 I will be on board FWIW, Newegg had a nice 2.5" 64g on sale for $149 last week.
    Ted
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
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    Dances With Sheep GREGFEELER's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted View Post
    When it hits $80 I will be on board FWIW, Newegg had a nice 2.5" 64g on sale for $149 last week.
    Ha! You're my kind of geek - you know that sooner or later the cool stuff is almost free.
    Greg Feeler
    BMW MOA Director & Ambassador
    1972 R75/5, 1990 K75, 1990 K1, 1992 K75S, 2003 K1200RS

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    univers zero tessler's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the great responses so far.

    Ted and Greg, thanks for the information about the Netbooks and amazing prices in HDs (especially for PC/Linux users). I'd contemplated a SSHD for my new MacBook Pro but Apple isn't exactly known for it's deep discounts and it's base offerings are a mere 128 or 256GB (so Serial ATA for me).

    Criteria for me of course is the ability to run all the design apps of Adobe CS4 and have seamless integration with me.com account and my office desktop(s). I need to be able to view a sizeable chunk of a magazine spread at-a-glance, so the 15" will do just fine for now.

    Ted, do you stow your 15.4 typically in your top case? That seems to be the preferred method. As Steve surmised, I don't have a top case on the K75 and have not considered acquiring one before my departure. Does a good tail bag alternative exist perhaps?

    Greg, thanks for the info on Pelican by the way, I do intend to research good, protective cases as much as possible before making a purchase.

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    univers zero tessler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted View Post
    4. Security. I worry about it being stolen. With a "road-use-only" Netbook I can transfer what I need to my desktop and then use CCleaner to wipe it clean after a roadtrip. During the roadtrip, just do things like use CCleaner to clear cache and cookies after use, require login in Outlook and the like, and if need be, encrypt docs and password protect directories.
    This is as important as safe transport and even on my desktop (where the building and cleaning staff have necessary access to my office), I secure my information when I leave. A good friend, a Silicon Valley interface designer, has a strict regimen of security procedures much like your own for his own laptops. Good stuff

  11. #11
    Dum vivimus vivamus ted's Avatar
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    Howdy Jonathan - the last time I had a laptop on a bike I did stow it in the tail case and worried the whole time as there was not a whole lot of room in there for cushioning after the laptop went in. If I did not have a tailcase, I think I would probably buy a drybag like this and either buy a foam sleeve or make one out of packing foam (cheap at Staples or Office Depot) and duct tape - probably a better path to make it as you could double the foam on the bottom and make it fit snug in the bag. Not only that, one can never have enough drybags

    Ted
    "A good stick is a good reason"
    1994 K75RT
    Moto Pages

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    Registered User marcopolo's Avatar
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    I have ridden cross-continent a number of times with a laptop. I never had a problem. I simply put it in my R12RT's topcase between layers of clothes (about midway in the pile from top to bottom). I have never used a special case.

    This past fall I bought an Acer Aspire One netbook specifically for the bike. I like it quite a bit, especially its small size and very light weight. It has a 120GB hard drive; I did not want one with a solid state drive because the capacity was far too small for my liking. I didn't foresee a problem, give the trouble-free travel I had had with my larger laptop (a Compaq).
    Mark
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    Amma Holly's Avatar
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    I have to be able to access online courses on a daily basis, fix and upload web pages and do a live web conference using Adobe Connect Pro at least once a week.

    I have carted Compaq PCs across the continent many, many times in my saddlebags. Sometimes I wrap the sleeping bag or my clothing around the computer. Lately I have had it in a neoprene sleeve, then in my padded Roadgear helmet bag. Being really cheap, all of this is in a plastic garbage bag for waterproofing, but I'll probably spring for a dry bag eventually. I have never had any problems with the computers I've carried on the bikes. The one time I lost a saddlebag was the trip I was overpacked and the computer was in a backpack instead.
    The computer I'm using right now is a 15" HP Pavilion, with Adobe CS4 and probably too much other software on it, although I try to keep the travelling computer cleaner than the desktop. It has a camera, so I can Skype my kids and the grandbaby while I'm travelling as well. It survived getting slightly wet on a trip last year, and dropping the bike this May. My tankbag is both small and magnetic, so I never put anything in it that I can't afford to lose. Jon you have a good feel for the weight of it, since you carted the helmet bag with the laptop and my Zumo back and forth to the train station.

    Holly
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    Small road corner junkie pffog's Avatar
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    I always pack mine on top of a fleece pullover I carry for cold mornings, and if I need to wear the fleece, cushion it with other clothing.

    I carry an IBM x-40 so it will fit in the tank bag too, but my sense tells me the hard drive is more vulnerable to damage when the computer is flat.

  15. #15
    criminaldesign
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    From one designer to another...

    Hey there Jon. I've been traveling with my 13' macbook and it's been holding up great for the last 2 1/2 months of steady travel with the adobe suite.

    I of course have a small soft bag that I keep the laptop in, which by the way is a perfect fit in the side hard cases hatch. Other than that, I toss the comp bag in a military dry bag which you can pick up for 5-10 bucks at any surplus store. The dry bag take up no more room than a garbage bag.

    The comp casebag seems to be sufficient as padding and the dry bag keeps it dry. I've been through some serious rain and so far so good. It's cheap and it works. Of course don't forget to turn the comp off before riding.

    That reminds me, I should do some back ups...

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