Mac Fallout Shelter

Lombard: A Great $400 Field Computer

- 2005.12.06 - Tip Jar

I'm going to take you back in time. The year was 2004.

I know it wasn't that long ago, but that was an important year to me. It was the year I got deployed to Iraq. I can't go into details, other than say I spent a whole year there, mostly in Baghdad.

I had never used a laptop 24/7 in my life. Before leaving the States, I researched different Mac laptops to see which one would fit my needs and my budget. My PowerBook would become my best friend and companion.

This is what I needed:

  • USB
  • 14" or bigger screen
  • Video out
  • Wireless capable
  • Ethernet port
  • Long battery life
  • Easy to clean the insides
  • Mac OS X capable
  • Capable of playing DVDs

After all my research, I had to decide between Lombard, Pismo, and the original titanium PowerBook G4.

My budget was $400 shipped. Unfortunately, I could not buy any of them before I left (due to unexpected expenses), so I took an old PC laptop that some one had given me as a gift. I used the PC laptop for a month-and-a-half before I sold it. Then I purchased a Lombard - the Pismo was around $100-150 more, and a titanium was even more expensive.

My initial comparisons (mostly based of info from LEM):

Lombard

Pros:

  • Has SCSI and target disk mode
  • Has two interchangeable bays
  • Can support easy battery changes
  • Can use two batteries at the same time
  • Has a built-in DVD decoder and drive
  • Has two USB ports
  • Easy access to important components
  • S-video out
  • Ethernet port
  • PCMCIA slot

Cons:

  • No widescreen display
  • Small hard drive
  • Can't hold a lot of RAM (512 MB max.)
  • No AirPort slot

Pismo Compared to Lombard

Pros:

  • More RAM space (1 GB max.)
  • Built-in AirPort slot
  • FireWire (but I didn't have use for it at the moment)

Cons:

  • None really, other than price

Titanium compared to Lombard

Pros:

  • Widescreen display
  • Holds more RAM (1 GB max.)
  • Built-in AirPort slot
  • G4 processor
  • FireWire

Cons:

  • Price
  • Requires more storage space
  • Seem more fragile
  • Only one battery
  • No interchangeable bays

I decided to go with the Lombard. I bought it on eBay for $350 very carefully and had it shipped home to my wife. She then mailed it using FedEx, and I got it three days after that at a cost of $125. It was a lot, but they took good care of transporting it all those miles. My other option was to use normal mail, and that would have take anywhere from 3-6 weeks.

PowerBook G3Once I got it, the first thing I did was take it apart and clean everything. I like the Lombard because of the two bays: I can use two batteries at the same time, maximizing operation time. Another Lombard plus is that it has a hardware DVD decoder and the S-video port out so you can watch movies on a TV.

The sleek black case looks great along with the black rubber, making a bit more rugged. The screen was big enough for me to watch movies and surf the Web comfortably.

While the Lombard didn't have AirPort compatibility, I could add wireless networking using a PCMCIA slot.

The last best thing is that my Lombard is very easy to clean - being in the desert, there's a lot of sand and dust. All I had to do was pop up the keyboard and hit it with compressed air. I could easily reach all the important areas of the Lombard with ease.

Next week I will talk about what accessories, upgrades, and software I used with my Lombard in Iraq. LEM

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