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Hardware Thread, Experiences of RM Widescreen Mobile one in Technical; Hi, We're looking into getting a mobile laptop trolley and some toughened laptops for our primary school. I've been researching ...
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    Tyrfau's Avatar
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    Experiences of RM Widescreen Mobile one

    Hi,
    We're looking into getting a mobile laptop trolley and some toughened laptops for our primary school. I've been researching possible options and as we have CC4 it seems that the RM Mobile one widescreen seems to be a good enough choice if we get them with the Core 2 Duo processor. I think the hardened screen and water resistant case are really useful features (we recently lost one non rm laptop to a drink of Ribena) and RM seem to have gone all out to indicate how tough it is with the you tube videos of the drop test and the car driving over them.

    What do those of you who have the Mobile one think of it's battery life and display brightness? I've seen a couple of posts about dead pixels on the display but they were 12 months ago. Battery life seems to be reported as being anywhere between 2 and 7 hours from various websites - can anybody say what the battery life is like in the real world? I've also seen some posts on here that say the lid clip is a bit of a weak point.

    I thought about considering other laptops, such as the Viglen Futura Durus mentioned in another post, but I'm put off as I have no idea how compatible such laptops may be with CC4.

    I would be very grateful to hear any opinions on this from people who use them and from those who wouldn't touch them with a barge pole fitted with a 4ft anti-bacterial extension .

    Cheers.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Use them in a fair few schools and they're not half bad - build quality is, as you would expect for something that price quite good, and I would recommend them way over and above any "normal" laptop you'd find off the shelf - at least certainly in a primary, although I don't know what sort of school you're planning to use them for. I've not had any problems with the lid catch as yet, and I've seen a couple dropped from desk height whilst powered on with no adverse effects.

    Battery life was decent across the board - getting typically 3-4 hours from a charge in general day to day use, and circa 18 months later that hasn't noticeably decreased.

    The last batch I had, I needed to use a BIOS update to ensure that wireless lan started before being logged in however I would assume that is now applied across the board anyway.

    But to elay any concerns over building other machine types onto CC4, it's really quite easy; especially if they turn up with an OS installed already. Use something like Driver Magician to export the drivers you need from that running system and import them straight into CC4 management console, and it should build without any hiccups. I won't say anything about Viglen kit as I've had very bad experiences with general build quality and support from the company but there's plenty of fish in the sea, so to speak.

  3. Thanks to synaesthesia from:

    Tyrfau (18th March 2010)

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    Tyrfau's Avatar
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    Thank you for the reply. I haven't been able to see a Mobile one in action so it is very useful to know that it does actually do what RM claims and that someone has good experiences with them before we decide to buy 15 of them. Yes, the laptops are for a mobile unit in a primary and they'll be used in KS1 and KS2, so robustness is definitely a key feature for us. Thanks for the tip about the Bios - i'll advise the ICT technician just in case the issue arises.

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    I've got a RM Mobile One and it is rather ruggedised. I wouldn't say the screen is any more robust than any other laptop... for instance a prod with a biro would probably still pop it.

    The chasis is ridiculously ruggedised and would probably dent the floor if you dropped it from a 1.5m like they claim you can. However, they failed to make the lid catch ruggedised and mine broke... I was the only person to use the laptop and it didn't see much action at all!

    Despite the ruggedised chasis, the RM Mobile One looks like it will suffer the age-old problem of the PSU socket getting snapped off the board too. They supply a 'break-away' cable to prevent you tripping over the wire but that doesn't stop the PSU bending the socket sideways/up/down.

    The main 'problem' with the laptops though is the weight of them... I wouldn't want primary school kids lugging them in and out of a trolley.

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    We have loads of these laptops in our secondary school. They are generally very good and put up with the vast majority of what our students can throw at them.

    The lid catch, as noted, is a weak point. The bit that actually 'clips' the top to the bottom is pretty small and through use can kind of chip away (like the ends of old piano keys, if you've seen this). It just means that the lid stays open half an inch when flat on a table. A little more care will be required putting them into a trolley if they get like this, but it's no biggie.

    The other problem we have with them is that despite how substantial the rest of it is, the keyboards on most of ours (particularly the newer ones) are very poor. Cheap, noisy, loose... And pretty easy to break key-tops off, if your pupils are so inclined, but then that can be said of most laptop keyboards.

    Some have needed BIOS updates to build properly on our CC3 network (typical RM product - delivered before supported), but I doubt it's a problem for CC4 as the build system is different.

    My personal highlight is the BIOS option to set the wireless to always be on, regardless of how many times little fat fingers prod at the button on the top!

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Oddly enough had a large batch today to build on CC3 - went through without any problem, no BIOS update needed. Quite pleased.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abullett View Post
    ... despite how substantial the rest of it is, the keyboards on most of ours (particularly the newer ones) are very poor. Cheap, noisy, loose... And pretty easy to break key-tops off, if your pupils are so inclined, but then that can be said of most laptop keyboards.
    I know what you mean, though replacing a broken keyboard due to hyperactive fingers\pen\pencil is preferable to having to replace the hardware from a spilt bottle of water. As to the weak catch, that's life I guess. I guess the catch will suffer more than normal as I doubt the users will be to gentle in the way they slam the lid shut.
    The Mobile one comes CC3\4 ready and it's cheaper than any other ruggedised laptop that I could find. Despite the issues reported here, it does seem to be generally liked. Or at least not generally hated which was one of my worries. I didn't believe RM's claim for battery life so I was grateful to Synaesthesia for confirming what he sees in real life use.

    Where do you get firmware updates for them by the way?

    I did find one interesting coincidence. Whilst I was looking round the net, I found an announcement of an Asus B51 ruggedised laptop but I couldn't find anywhere that was selling them or any release dates. Then i realised that the pictures of the B51 looked cunningly similar to the Mobile one. Out of curiosity, does anyone know if the Mobile one is actually an OEM rebadged Asus B51?

    Does anyone use any special power management settings for these laptops to eek out a few more minutes from the batteries? Or should I really be asking this in a new thread?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_ View Post
    The main 'problem' with the laptops though is the weight of them... I wouldn't want primary school kids lugging them in and out of a trolley.
    I noticed that when I compared the Mobile One's weight to my heavy duty laptop I use for my day job. Probably Ok for Y6, Y5 maybe, but further down than that and they'll have to be put out for them. Not even worth considering for KS1. When we do get the trolley and laptops, I have to produce the instructions and do some staff training (maybe even issue them with an "L" or a "P" plate) so we'll get the "laptops out\laptops back in" process sorted so the staff are happy. Or at least happy ish!
    Thanks for the heads up.

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    We've got a few Mobile Ones, not the widescreen ones though. Build quality is good, very rugged.

    Seen [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNxjQ12kYXA"]YouTube- Laptop survives being driven over by 3 cars![/ame]?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrfau View Post
    I noticed that when I compared the Mobile One's weight to my heavy duty laptop I use for my day job. Probably Ok for Y6, Y5 maybe, but further down than that and they'll have to be put out for them. Not even worth considering for KS1. When we do get the trolley and laptops, I have to produce the instructions and do some staff training (maybe even issue them with an "L" or a "P" plate) so we'll get the "laptops out\laptops back in" process sorted so the staff are happy. Or at least happy ish!
    Thanks for the heads up.
    Also worth bearing in mind that a 15-laptop trolley may be quite difficult to move about with all that weight in too.

    does anyone know if the Mobile one is actually an OEM rebadged Asus B51?
    I bel;ieve they are OEM Asus laptops but I couldn't tell you the model number.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrfau View Post
    Where do you get firmware updates for them by the way?
    RM's support knowledgebase.

    We had a call open with RM about our build problem just after we got our first batch a couple of years ago and were told it would need applying. Think it was only appliccable to the first-gen models we had - newer ones haven't needed it.

    On our CC3 system you do have to put the HDs into IDE 'Compatibility' mode in the BIOS, rather than enhanced SATA for them to build, though... :/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrfau View Post
    does anyone know if the Mobile one is actually an OEM rebadged Asus B51?
    Pretty sure all RM mobile laptops are rebadged somethings... Other laptops are based on Compal components.

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    RM One Keyboard and Mice

    Hello

    We have over 100 of these RM ones here!

    Bloomin pain in the back side! Left mouse clicker wears out after a few months student use, faster for staff!

    Also the keyboards have the be pressed very hard for keys to work, no good for touch typers.

    Rm have now started to replace 27 to covers and I have a new box of 40 keyboards in my office but that makes no difference!

    Has any one else had this problem? RM say we are the only school but there are so many out there we cant be alone!

    I suggest you to feel the left clicker button on your machines you will soon see what I mean!

    Adam

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    dayzd's Avatar
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    We have just under 70 of these (bought over the space of about 18 months) and have only had to replace a couple of keyboards on them. We had a damaged trackpad button last week, but were able to fix it.
    Aside from the latch weakness mentioned above, we don't really have any problems with the hardware.

    I can see that heavy-handed use will shorten their lives, though. Are your kids/staff particularly ham-fisted?!

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abullett View Post
    I can see that heavy-handed use will shorten their lives, though. Are your kids/staff particularly ham-fisted?!

    I find that in-school use is fairly ham-fisted as a rule of thumb, and depending on the school sometimes it's the staff more than the children! Seen quite a few teachers mash the keys on their keyboard quite heavily as if it was a typewriter with a dry ribbon, and the reason being "well, it's not typing what I want it to"

    I've been tempted to buy them a copy of either Mavis Beacon or, with tongue in cheek, Englishtype Junior/Type to Learn

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