[aprssig] FOUND -NEW laptops for APRS with a Serial Port

K7FTP k7ftp at commtechreview.net
Tue Apr 15 08:59:23 EDT 2008

The problem is that not all USB serial (RS-232) adapters are well behaved. 
In addition, some laptops with built-in serial ports are actually an 
internal USB to RS-232 converter.

Case in point - I work with a wide assortment of telecom devices (Avaya PBX 
gear, Cisco routers and switches, and some really esoteric stuff).  I also 
interface to a Clifford alarm, Uniden scanner, and Kantronics KAM-XL - plus 
programming interfaces for Kenwood and Icom radios.

I needed a laptop that would talk to all of these.  Plus I wanted a Cardbus 
(PCMCIA) slot to use an EVDO device (Sierra AC595 for Sprint).

One of the local vendor techs has a Sony VAIO that his employer got for him. 
It has an RS-232 port.  Several of the vendor-specific programs don't like 
the RS-232 port in it.  Turns out that it is internally a USB to RS-232 

I have a Toshiba Tecra A9-S9015X.  It runs XP just like his VAIO, but 
everything I have - including the same vendor-specific software - works very 
well with it.  It is a real RS-232 port.

The Toshiba Tecra A9-S9013 is a similar system, but came with Vista 
installed.  MS changed the way serial ports work under Vista, and the 
Clifford alarm software does not work under Vista.  Put XP on that A9-S9013 
(or buy an A9-S9013X) and poof - everything works.

I had a chance to speak with the Toshiba program manager for laptops at CES 
in January.  They appreciated hearing first-hand that the RS-232 port is not 
a waste of time.  It gives them an edge, the only other systems that really 
have real ports are Dells, and the cost is higher.

I have been impressed with the quality, and I have put mine through rough 
use.  I bought matching A9-S9015x units for my family.

Here is a review I wrote.  I really recommend the Tecra A9 units.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Chuck Gooden" <Chuck.Gooden at comcast.net>
To: "TAPR APRS Mailing List" <aprssig at lists.tapr.org>
Sent: Monday, April 14, 2008 6:10 PM
Subject: Re: [aprssig] FOUND -NEW laptops for APRS with a Serial Port

> Seems like it would be cheaper to use a USB to serial converter.  The 
> expensive laptop will be obsolete very soon.
> But its your money.
>> Thanks to all that responded to my search.
>> There seems to be lots of manufactures that make laptops with real legacy
>> serial ports.
>> They just don't sell them at big box stores like Best Buy, Target, 
>> Costco,
>> RS, or Micro Center.
>> Nor are they "consumer grade", that sell for around, or under $1,000.
>> Dell, Toshiba, and HP/Compaq sell laptops with serial ports on their
>> "business" upper grade systems. These are more expensive, have faster 
>> CPUs
>> (t9500), sometimes more HD space.
>> I'm leaning between a M9 or a D830 for a laptop to do my APRS, HRD, CS3 
>> work
>> on.
>> Thanks again to all.... A great group
>> Kent
>> KQ4KK
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: aprssig-bounces at lists.tapr.org 
>> [mailto:aprssig-bounces at lists.tapr.org]
>> On Behalf Of KENT HUFFORD
>> Sent: Sunday, April 13, 2008 3:39 PM
>> To: 'TAPR APRS Mailing List'
>> Cc: michaelnewland at bellsouth.net; kathryn at agolden.com
>> Subject: [aprssig] NEW laptop for APRS with a Serial Port?
>> Most new laptops don't come with Serial Ports, and some not even a PCMCIA
>> slot.
>> I am looking for a fast, new laptop (VISTA), (not a MAC) that has a 
>> built-in
>> SERIAL Port.
>> I don't want to use a USB to Serial adaptors and such. Would like a 
>> laptop,
>> with a built-in serial port, also not have to add a port replicator or
>> docking station to get it.
>> So far, I have only found Toshiba Tecra A9 and M9's and DELL (business)
>> D830s with a built-in serial port.
>> Any body know of another mainstream laptop with serial ports so I can run 
>> my
>> serial port stuff, such as APRS?
>> Thanks,
>> Kent
>> KQ4KK
>> (no MAC's, no dongles, no adaptors, no port replicator, etc)
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