Required Equipment To Begin Mobile Computing In A Semi-Truck


I have seen truckstops ripping off truck drivers for to long and I would like to inform all truck drivers to the best of my ability about how to get the right mobile computing equipment for the right price. You do not buy refurbished computers in truck stops for starters! The following will discuss what services and equipment you do buy. Keep in mind that this article was created in October of 2007. Technology moves quickly, and if you stay tuned to I’d rather drive a truck news, you can keep pace with the changes.  

Truck Drivers Need To Know They Are Targeted

Computers are no different than any other service targeted to truckers. There are good services and products and there are total scams aimed at the misinformed and non-technical driver. Just as we are targeted for expensive and weak insurance policies, bogus health products, bad cell phone service, and every other trucking need, computers are no different. Stay away from the truck stop for your technology needs. The packages are priced high because they know you do not have the time to take that big rig into the local computer stores to get the right price and advice. When you see a well known brand set up a booth in a truckstop, be forewarned that these folks were trained to come after the trucking audience and they are like trained parrots to say what they feel will hook you. The truckstops are looking to make a buck to with up-priced Wi-Fi and IdleAire.

What You Need And Where To Look For Good Prices

  • Computers – Software, and Hardware

As I stated before, NO REFURBISHED truck stop laptops. They are old and will not do anything well. Yes, they will do basic things like e-mail and word processing, but they will do them slowly. Contrary to what some drivers think, slow and cheap is not ok, even if you are a casual user. You will want to get things done quickly to get back on the road. Cheap and slow computers will cost you money in the long run.

Currently, there are many laptops in the $600- $1000 range that will do well. I purchase warranties. Due to the nature of trucking there are inherent dangers such as vibration (kills hard drives quickly), dirt, and rough handling in general that warrant the purchase of an extra warranty. When considering cost, consider that the higher priced computers will last longer as they have higher specifications for higher requirements of future software. idratherdriveatruck. com will soon update it’s readers with some specific recommendations. Look for packaged software on the computer that can save you money also.

There are some VERY large laptops now and I would advise against them. They are heavy and harder to store in the truck. You will not need the huge screens as most of your work is done in the close proximity of the cab. The very large laptops are designed for the user who is at a desk most of the time and rarely carries the computer away from the desk.

Software should be inexpensive or free. Yes free. For example has a fully functional office sweet that will do anything that Microsoft Office can do (at least as far as a truckers needs would be) for free. I will be adding free software that is useful to a truck driver soon, but it is easy to search for these on

  • Wi-Fi

Wireless Internet is good for the user that frequents a certain chain of truckstops. If you are OTR like me, you don’t know where you’ll be able to find parking on a given day. You will not make truck-stop Wi-Fi work without being very close. Wi-Fi is also suitable for those who only want to work on the computer infrequently.

You will need to purchase a WiFi antenna and your laptop will require a wireless LAN card (most new laptops have them). Without an antenna, you will need to park close to the truckstop to get a signal strong enough to work with.

  • Cellular Internet -  the best choice for truckers

Currently, cellular Internet is the best option for the average OTR driver. It will work almost anywhere. It is similar to  a cell phone’s reception. I have found that most common truck parking such as truck stops and rest areas, almost always have good strength. Look around while your in these places and many times there is a cell tower within sight.

It is important to buy service that matches the laptop you have or plan to buy. Different companies have different requirements for the disk space, card type, and memory. Many times, the salesmen at the retail outlets do not know what these requirements are and will tell you anything will work to get their commission. Go to the cellular phone company’s website and research these requirements on your own.

It is also very important to invest at least $50 for a basic antenna, more if you can afford it. The standard reception of the cards is just to weak outside of primary coverage areas. You will never be satisfied with the service without an antenna. I do not understand why the vendors do not cell antennas or promote the usage of them, but you need one

Tasks A Trucker Can Do With The Proper Equipment and Services

Here are some common tasks that I use my laptop for -

  • E-mail – truckers are hard to reach, e-mail works 24-7. It reduces my time talking on a cell while driving. Folks leave their non-urgent messsages on e-mail for me
  • News – stay up to date with any type of news you need. There are customized news sites like Google that will e-mail you the news you request on demand
  • Mapping – most urban areas have maps with satellite photos so good you can tell what make of vehicle is on the ground for free
  • Spreadsheets – track your expenses
  • Get loads – brokers and customers use the Internet
  • Get detailed directions from customers without calling – some have this on their company website
  • Reduce wasted time with a dispatcher that is just repeating info he is reading on the web.
  • Watch TV – most programs now broadcast on the web
  • Watch DVD’s – most laptops have this capability
  • Play Video Games
  • Chat
  • Shop – get better prices and have items shipped and waiting for you when you get back home. Save the time you shop on your time off for better things.
  • More – you’ll find more things once you’re going. 
  • Make Money On The Internet – you won’t get rich without alot of creativity and work, but you can make good money creating web pages and promoting products. There are numerous other ways, just be careful of scams. Google Adsense is one way you can do it.
  • Find loads and brokers
  • Track your stocks
  • Do you banking and financial activities
  • Interact with your insurance companies
  • Find trucks and equipment for sale
  • Educate yourself with online learning – no longer do you have the excuse that trucking keeps you away from higher education goals


The Internet Is The Best Answer For Trucker’s Computer Supply

I always suggest using the Interent. You can order anything you need at the best price and have it waiting when you return home. If you have a problem with a computer, you’re going to have to use the mail to get it repaired in most cases, so buying from a store will not speed up repairs. Most major stores are online now too.

Software is downloadable now, so you can get what you need very quickly with a good connection. The manuals are in electronic form so you always have them on the computer. No need to carry all those manuals in your truck.

Now Is The Time To Get Started!

No matter your level of expertise, the time to get started is now. Do not let all of the advantages of being connected wherever you are pass you buy. Be patient learning, ask questions, learn to search for answers, and you will open up a world of conveniences that add to your quality of live on the road.



Technology = A Connected, Informed, More Profitable Driver

The computer levels the playing field for truckers. There’s no time lag for you to find out information. If you want up to the minute information on everything related to transportation, there is no better way. The most important part of the technology equation, of course, is the money. Whether your saving fuel with mapping capabilities, finding a load, or finding a higher paying employer; the return on your technology investment will make you a richer trucker.

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