I've been given a $1500 budget to spec out a laptop for my new job. The only real requirement I have is that it has a working serial port for programming older PLCs. I don't really trust USB to serial adapters because I've heard about cases where they don't work, don't follow the standard, etc. I read that the PCI card (ExpressCard, PCMCIA) versions provide true RS232 compliance though and are a better alternative.
Anyway, does anyone know of any laptop lines that offer actual serial ports? If not, has anyone had to program chips or PLCs with a serial adapter of some sort and how well did it work?