Portable console client needed

Shadowspawn

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 17, 2002
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1,870
I maintain a network with about 700 access, distro and core switches in less than ideal physical conditions. As a result I need to travel around and console into isolated switches on a regular basis. I have laptops for this purpose but they are beginning to break down and tend to be bulky and difficult to hold in one hand while typing with the other.

I am checking out some of the upcoming tablet style PC's as possible replacement for these laptops. Something with a serial port is preferred, but a USB port will work just as well. Something with expandable storage, quick to boot, able to run a SSH client and fairly solid so I don't have to panic every time someone on my team bumps it.

Does anybody out there have experience with a similar piece of equipment?
 

Lightworker

Limp Gawd
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Jan 12, 2009
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457
I've got toughbooks for field work under nasty conditions and they are total bricks--definitely not "handheld" for more than a few mins at a time, and the rubber keyboard sucks to type on in the first place. Get yourself a netbook with a SSD and load putty on it.
 

Shadowspawn

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 17, 2002
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1,870
One of the laptops I am currently using is a toughbook. They are great for field conditions but nowhere near ideal for what I need.

A netbook might be ideal, although not as sexy as I'd like. :D

I was hoping some of my fellow network administrators would have a favorite little hand held that they use for this purpose and would rave about it.
 

/usr/home

Supreme [H]ardness
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Mar 18, 2008
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6,160
I've got toughbooks for field work under nasty conditions and they are total bricks--definitely not "handheld" for more than a few mins at a time, and the rubber keyboard sucks to type on in the first place. Get yourself a netbook with a SSD and load putty on it.

QFT, that's exactly what I do. Typing with one hand while holding it in another works great. Grab a USB to Serial adapter and you're good to go.
 

HoppyChris

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
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I've got a small x60 tablet from Lenovo that is small enough to carry around without too much hassle, is good in tablet mode for testing wireless coverage, and not too heavy. It's got a full keyboard, works with a USB to serial converter, and is still a fully functional computer when I'm not out connecting to switches. A netbook would probably also work and be smaller.

There is probably some sort of specialized pocket-sized device with serial connectivity, which would be great... I haven't looked into the possibility, though.
 

keenan

2[H]4U
Joined
Aug 5, 2009
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2,695
Do note that their Bluetooth serial port is rather expensive. If you're looking for something similar, you can get similar products for < $50 on eBay or < $100 from pretty reputable North American companies. IIRC IOgear makes one, for example.

Handy to carry around in the tool bag, it's nice to just plug it into a device in the rack and then put the laptop down on a handy surface a few meters away.
 

prochobo

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 28, 2005
Messages
321
Get 4 netbooks because they're so cheap and the total cost should be less than a Toughbook or comparable alternative. If one breaks, just throw it out and pick up another one. 4 should last you many years until you do another refresh.

If you want something sturdier yet still cheap, look at the Lenovo x41s. If you've got deep pockets, check out the Toughbook U1:

http://www.panasonic.com/business/toughbook/toughbook-products.asp#/U1

I've got 2 on the way for work to use for wireless stuff, but these fit your needs also. I think I'm going to hate the keyboard though. . . but you wanted something small so you've got to make sacrifices.

Other alternatives are the Samsung Q1 and Sony UX series. I like the original Samsung Q1 because it has a PCMCIA port while the others don't.
 

Shadowspawn

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 17, 2002
Messages
1,870
Thanks for the good ideas everyone. I'm interested in the wireless serial adapters - I didn't know they existed.

The Toughbooks are nice but my pockets aren't anywhere near that deep.
 
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