One thing I'm seeing more and more of from cruisers out there is high quality media in the form of DVDs, video, and electronic photo albums.
The Mac has a well-deserved reputation as a superior tool for capturing, editing, and outputting different types of media. So if you are looking for a computer that can run Windows-- and all the Windows-based cruising software-- AND want to be creative with all the media assets you gather along your route, the Mac is the way to go. Because of the effort Apple and it's software developers have put into developing the interface and workflows, you're much more likely to find yourself enjoying the experience of working with your media. On top of that, you can rest assured the operating system is not going to let you down, or rile you up. I've been on a Mac since 1984 creating media, and more recently on OSX creating educational multimedia and in all my thousands of hours at the keyboard, I have not had to dicker with the OS in any way. If it freezes, something that happens very very rarely ( a handful of times in ten or so years), I simply reboot and all is well.
The dream set-up (cost is an issue for new- used can be much cheaper) for me and my boat is the MacBook Pro 17" with a large external drive, an external keyboard, the Boot Camp program to run Windows XP, Apple's Final Cut Express or Pro for video and Aperture for photo editing, and serial adapter to accept serial connections from nav-related hardware aboard.
One final note: The quote below is from the Apple site. It mentions two attributes of the laptops important to the cruiser.
"Every PowerBook also includes Apple's patent-pending Sudden Motion Sensor technology which integrates a tri-axis accelerometer to help protect a spinning hard drive if the notebook is accidentally dropped. Apple's revolutionary backlit keyboard with ambient light sensors for working in low-light conditions is now built in to all 15- and 17-inch PowerBooks and is up to 10 times brighter than before.
s/v Voyager of Yokohama