As a network engineer there is a set of criteria’s that I look for when purchasing a laptop. Since I use my laptop to travel a lot and to do private network consultations, I need it to be very durable. I also need several USB ports and also 2 Ethernet ports. The most important feature I look for in a laptop is a serial port. A lot of the new laptops do not have a serial port and most network engineer will tell you that a usb-to-serial converter is good enough but I have to disagree. I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with these converters. First, most of the time you have to download a driver and sometimes the driver is unstable and crashes when you switch console sessions. Also, the fact that you have to carry an additional piece of kit, a cable that can be broken easily and that you can forget to bring, is just an extra burden to me.
When I was in the military we used laptops that had all of these features; the Toughbook series from Panasonic. Not only are the Toughbook’s very durable but they have a serial and an rj11 port. Since I am not in the military anymore or spend time in the field, I opted for a semi-ruggedized laptop; the CF-53. The CF-53 comes with all the features I need in a laptop. It has a spill-resistant keyboard, magnesium alloy case with a handle for easy transport, 2 Ethernet ports, Serial and RJ11 port, Intel Core i5 vPRO processor, 256GB Solid state drives, up to 16GB RAM, 11 hours long life battery and 4 USB ports.
This laptop is very good also if you want to do virtualization like run GNS3 or IOU and the screen resolution is excellent. I would recommended this laptop to any network engineer just because of the fact that it has a serial port.