View Full Version : What are the best Laptops for PLC Programming

May 30th, 2002, 03:08 AM
I'm planning to buy a new laptop, my old laptop
a compaq is about to conk out on me anytime soon.

So i'm asking you guys..In your opinion and experience
what is the best laptop out there right now for PLC programming?

Eric Nelson
May 30th, 2002, 04:09 AM
Remember that you need a serial port! That should narrow your choices down to just a few manufacturers... Keep in mind that most don't come with one anymore.

Make a list things you MUST have (like a serial port maybe?) and how much you're willing to spend, then decide which one "fits the bill" the best...

I have had excellent luck with the 2 Toshiba Satellite Pros I own (though they're starting to show their age). I have a preference for the trackstick (over a touchpad), and as far as I know, they're only on the IBM Thinkpads and Toshibas (but Toshiba is slowly phasing them out as well) :(

I had a lot of problems with hard drive controller failures on my last Dell, but that was years ago.... Hopefully that's been solved since they hired Steve (You know, the "Dude, you're getting a DELL" guy) :D

Happy shopping!


May 30th, 2002, 07:43 AM
There are a lot of very good laptop that you can program PLCS with and I have had a couple. My last computer was a Compaq Armada 1700, it was ok but when I was doing some research for my new one, the Panasonic toughbook was one of the best and most rugged laptop computers. Check this out!

May 30th, 2002, 09:22 AM
They fixed the hard drive controller, now it is just the hard drive that goes bad. I'm on my third one.

May 30th, 2002, 10:26 AM
I have been using Dell's Inspiron 8000 and 8100 with Win2K for a couple of years now with absolutely no problems.

They have more ports and options than I will ever use.

>>Ports: Serial, parallel, USB (2), ethernet, docking, external monitor, PS2, IEEE 1394, PCMCIA (Type 3), S-video.

>>Other: 1.2GHz Pentium III, 256MB RAM, 20GB Hard drive, floppy, 56K modem, 24X CD-ROM, Infrared comm., nice leather carry case, 3 year warranty, and lifetime phone support.

List price is $2942 before discounts.

Courtesy of the company.:nodi:

May 30th, 2002, 10:34 AM
I have a new Compaq 1ghz laptop and a IBM Thinkpad 390E 300mhz..the Compaq isnt in the class with the IBM. Yes the cpu is faster and it has a larger hdd but overall the IBM is just plain better.

With ALL the newer laptops you have to BEWARE, they have a tendency to build them for Win2k or XP and have no drivers for backwards compatibility with Dos/Win9x. As stated above most do NOT have a serial port either and you have to swap things like cdrom with floppy, which to me is a PITA. Expect to pay a premium price to get one that has floppy, cdrom and serial port built in (not swapped) but its worth it when it comes to eliminating problems and comsuming time better spent later on.

Personally if I was going to buy a laptop to use for plc's and that would be used in harsh environments etc. I would look at older/used models that were top of the line when new. My IBM is a good example, when new this thing cost around 5k, but models similar to it can be found on ebay for less than $500 now. The other advantage to this is they have non working models that can be had for $100 more or less that make good spare parts. I had to replace my keyboard (spilled my darn drink on it) and found it cheaper to buy whole non working unit than just a keyboard. I have bought 2 units like this that technically will work if I swap parts around, so I have the satisfaction of not worrying about the laptop dying...I even have the hdd duplicated. The other factor in buying slightly older models is using WIN98, these machines work well with it and has a viable DOS base that most plc's work well with if needed.

Whether you buy new or old the old axiom applies BUYER BEWARE.
Know what you want and make sure you get it from the start, dont try to addon later.

Peter Nachtwey
May 30th, 2002, 01:16 PM
It has a serial port and best of all it has a 1600x1200 display. Once you use a 1600x1200 display you will not want to anything less. The 1600x1200 display allows one to see more code/ladder/data/windows at one time. This reduces the amount of time wasted mickey mousing around.

We have bought 3 8100s in the last year.

May 30th, 2002, 04:14 PM
And one to dodge is any model of ACER TRAVEL-MATE. They just drop to bits. They are made of hard brittle plastic and cannot take the slightest knock. Cracks appear from every corner, the screen hinges are faulty and break. I wasted £1000 on one. It is no longer portable; just the job for on site programming eh. It sort of ruined the my image, turning up well dressed, laptop briefcase in hand and then pulling this cracked and screen hanging off thing out of the bag.

May 30th, 2002, 04:25 PM

May 30th, 2002, 05:12 PM
I have to second the Acer Travelmate objection. We have had several and they do not hold up well at all. Also the Fujitsu's don't hold up well either.

We are now using Compaq Armada's and are having really good luck so far with them. Low end 800mhz models are around $800 at CDW. At least this was the case two months ago when we bought our last one. :p

May 30th, 2002, 05:32 PM
You didn't ask, but Windows 2000 is my OS of choice. It's been stable for me for a year now (that's at least a 1200% improvement), and it's compatible with most PLC software.

If you need to run some "legacy" software, Win2000 makes dual boot pretty painless. Many of the guys posting to this site are running dual (dueling?) operating systems on their laptops for this very reason.

My laptop is an HP Pavilion N5350. It hasn't travelled the country much yet. But, I've been lugging it around daily and dropping it off tables for a year and all its pieces are still attached.

Once you check the comm ports on your new laptop, check the battery holder. Those batteries are the first thing to fall out of most laptops!


Rick Densing
May 30th, 2002, 09:48 PM
Me and my toshiba tecra 8000 have been through a lot. No problems, though the battery just took a dump after 2 years.

May 31st, 2002, 12:03 AM
I use a really nice Etch-a-Sketch.
Reboots with just a flick of the wrist.
Actually I prefer my Dell Latitude.
The CD-RW comes in handy for archiving programs.
Besides the serial port for comms there is a
100 mb nic for ethernet communications

May 31st, 2002, 12:14 PM
i depends on what plc software you use. for allen bradley i go with a toshiba because it seems to support the allen bradley software alot better than other laptops letting you transfer data back and forth at the same time. dude dont get a dell. I have had some luck compaq also

May 31st, 2002, 12:29 PM
PLC softwares have usually a low need for number crunching CPUs. The key thing will be com capability, OS and price.

I have a few low-end Toshibas. They perform well but are not has good for viewing Star Treck movies whyle on a plane...

Can't win'em all!!!

May 31st, 2002, 03:47 PM
Don't worry if your favorite Mfg. doesn't supply a serial port.
You can turn your PCMCIA (http://www.quatech.com/shopquatech/products/prod347.asp) into one.
This card from Quatech works well with RSlogix500, and Directsft.
Good luck!
George Bradley

May 31st, 2002, 04:32 PM
I would vote for Toshiba as well. The Satellite Pro series still has the serial port. You can also get the Wi-Fi built in so you can get on-line at many airport now. The only drawback is it's size and weight (almost 7lb) but like the gent said, "you can't have it all"

And dude, DON'T GET A DELL. I had bad luck with them and had to fight our IT department to get the Toshiba. The mouse button on DELL broke on my 2nd trip out to the field (they use a hard plastic hinge for the mouse button). The CD-ROM failed after a week. DELL do have good service but...

ALSO, Toshiba offer a type of "NO-Fault" warrenty that will replace your laptop up to once a year... even if you drop it off the 6th floor. I think it's around 500 buck US for 3 years.


May 31st, 2002, 11:08 PM
I was initially using the PG provided by Siemens, (boy is it Heavy!)

I'm thinking of shifting to something lighter too, Compaq was my idea, under windows 2000 platform. hope it aint gonna give me problem