I thought I'd share what computer I ended up buying to update my observatory system...

I've been using an old IBM T20 laptop (circa 1999) as my observatory computer. My "observatory" is a permently mounted pier/telescope that's covered with a bag when not in use. So, the observatory computer is out under the stars when in use and inside the house otherwise. The old IBM still works, but it's certainly got to be near the end of its life, so I thought I'd better update it before it was too late.

I really didn't want to be on the bleeding edge with Windows 7, and am not a fan of Vista, so one of the things I was trying to find was a laptop (or netbook) that still uses XP. I found it in a Gateway LT3117 netbook. While relatively low powered by today's standards, it's miles ahead of my old IBM T20 and more powerful than most other netbooks. After about 8 hrs. of software setup (it's amazing how many programs/utilities needed to be transferred), I tested it for the first time under the stars (and clouds) Friday night. I can report that it works great. It can be purchased from Best Buy for $350 online. I have no idea whether it will have the same durability as the IBM T20, but so far, so good.