Rugged PCs don't always excite us. It's not that we don't appreciate being able to take a notebook or a small form factor PC into the field and subject it to the elements, but all too often these so-called rugged rigs lose our attention when we find out they're rocking an anemic Atom processor or wimpy Celeron chip inside.
There are exceptions, of course, one of them being GammaTech's new D12C convertible notebook. When GammaTech told us this was their latest rugged PC, we shrugged. But when we heard it came equipped with an Intel Core i5 540UM processor paired with Intel's HM55 chipset, they officially had our attention.
Complimenting the Core i5 chip is up to 8GB of memory, a better-than-netbook 12.1-inch convertible display, 1.3MP webcam, 2.5-inch SATA HDD or SSD, eSATA, USB 2.0, and the typical assortment of goodies you'd expect on a modern day notebook.
Flip the screen around and the D12C transforms into a tablet. Either way, GammaTech tells us the D12C is drop and shock resistant and tested to stringent MIL-STD-810G requirements.
This isn't something you'll find in the electronics section at Walmart. It is, however, available through authorized resellers nationwide and direct from GammaTech.
A New Hampshire company called NextComputing announced its latest rugged mobile PC, the Vigor Evo. This little beast was created for military and homeland security chores and comes configurable with up to three displays (integrated 17-inch HD display and optional 2nd and 3rd swing-out displays for panoramic viewing) so three people can run mission critical apps at once.
"Our Vigor series rugged portable workstations and servers have been known in the industry for their top-end performance and flexible, modular design approach which allows the systems to be extremely versatile, while remaining small, lightweight, and efficient," says Bob Labadini, President & CTO of NextComputing. "Our unique FleXtreme architecture allows us to adapt our products quickly to changing market needs. The Vigor Evo Plus is a perfect example of this engineering philosophy, and was designed to satisfy the compute-intensive requirements of today’s C4ISR programs."
Hardware consists of a rugged mil-anodized external chassis and shock-mounted internal chassis, up to two Intel Xeon processors, up to 16GB of ECC RAM, 11TB of storage, and up to six full-length PCI Express cards.
Despite being Handheld's smallest and lightest rugged handheld PDA yet, the company claims its new Nautiz X3 was designed with field work in mind. Towards that end, the tough and rugged PDA comes ready to withstand drops from 1.8 meters and can operate in extreme temperatures ranging from -20C to 60C.
"The Nautiz X3 is a true breakthrough – it’s a unique product in today’s market. We’re offering a handheld PDA that’s smaller and lighter than most similar computing tools – and yet it still meets IP65 and MIL-STD810G standards. It has fast voice and data performance – plus all the performance features you’d expect from a rugged PDA which makes it go beyond a smartphone. It has a combination of size, performance, ruggedness and value that the market hasn’t seen before," said Jerker Hellström, CEO and Chairman of the Handheld Group.
On the hardware front, the Nautiz X3 packs an 806MHz X-Scale processor, 256MB of RAM, and 512MB of Flash memory for storage chores. It also comes with a 2.8-inch QVGA touchscreen, 3300mAh battery, 3MP camera with autofocus and LED flash, WLAN, Bluetooth, 3G, and and Windows Mobile 6.5 Professional.
Intel has gone back to the drawing board and improved the design of its clamshell Classmate PC. Among the improvements are increased battery life, improved ruggedness, better water resistance, and additional anti-microbial protection.
"What can survive a fall from a desk plus half a box of juice, fend off fungi and bacteria, and still have the energy to keep working for 8+ hours? Meet the latest Intel-powered clamshell Classmate PC," Intel said in a statement. "The new design helps protect students from germs and offers enhanced protection against accidental drops (up to 70cm) or liquid spills (up to 100cc)."
Intel's Classmate PCs are powered by an Intel Atom processor and come with a six cell battery. Other features include rounded corners, an easy-to-grasp handle, and a special HDD rubber cage to reduce impacts from drops and bumps.
We've been hearing chatter that MSI is getting ready to roll out a line of ruggedized motherboards and videocards, though details beyond that are disappointingly sparse.
We're not entirely sure how you supe-up a mobo or videocard so that it qualifies as rugged, but we're eager to find out. Maybe they'll come encased in rubber or coated in unobtanium.
Either way, MSI is hoping these new products will help spur sales. The company reported August revenues of around $203.72 million, down nearly half a percentage point sequentially. MSI's graphics card business has been especially brutal, with MSI expecting global shipments to drop by 10-15 percent on year in 2010.
LaCie has expanded its lineup of USB 3.0-enabled external hard drives (maybe because the Rugged USB 3.0 mobile hard drive it launched in late April had begun pining for siblings). The Minimus and Rikiki are the company's latest USB 3.0-powered HDD offerings. If you believe in love at first sight, then an innate predilection for “sturdy brushed aluminum”will surely boost the odds of you falling for these two drives.
"The Minimus and Rikiki USB 3.0 offer our customers easy and affordable options to access the super speeds of USB 3.0," Philippe Rault, LaCie Consumer Product Manager, is quoted as saying in a release. "Since these products offer backward compatibility with USB 2.0, they will work on any PC or Mac with no worry."
Stealth Computers, which specializes in tough technology products, has released a new rugged, "vandal resistant" plank with a built-in trackball and adjustable backlit keys.
"The new KYBX-400 series keyboard compliments our existing rugged peripherals family of products with the introduction of adjustable illuminated keys and a precision trackball. The keyboard is encapsulated in durable stainless-steel providing an anti-corrosive protection that is ideally suited for dirty and wet environments", remarked Ed Boutilier, CEO of Stealth.com Inc.
Protruding out of the steel casing are 71 polymer keys that Stealth says offers silent tactile feedback, while the trackball sports an 800DPI sensor.
At $700, Stealth isn't marketing the KYBX-400 at home consumers, but for applications that include process control, public space, in-vehicle computing, interactive kiosks, and anywhere else a sturdy plank is needed.
You can now add "rammer resistant" to the list of rugged marketing bullets attached to Panasonic's Toughbook UI handheld computers.
If you're not up to snuff on your Construction 101 course, a rammer is a sort of jackhammer with a flat surface that, among other things, is used to break up pavement. So naturally Panasonic opted to strap a Toughbook UI to the rammer while burying a second one under ground...UNDER the rammer.
Sure, no one's ever going to attach a Toughbook UI to a rammer out in the real-world, but the demonstration does show just how vibration resistant these tough little PCs are.
This was all caught on camera and uploaded to YouTube, which you can view below.
Getac isn't all that well known in consumer circles, but the company has been churning out ruggedized computing solutions for a little over a decade now. Their latest creation -- the upgraded V100 convertible laptop -- promises up to 47 percent better performance that its predecessor, while still meeting military specifications for extreme conditions.
"The V100 fully rugged convertible has always been very popular because of its advanced feature set and super bright 1200 NITS screen," said Jim Rimay, president, Getac. "With better performance, memory, storage and wireless capabilities, the new Getac V100 is more advanced and flexible as ever and even better suited for mobile field workers and users of rugged notebook PCs."
The updated V100 now ships with a mobile Intel Core i7 640UM processor clocked at 1.2GHz, Intel GMA graphics, a 10.4-inch sunlight-readable display, 320GB hard drive (optional SSD), up to 8GB os DDR3 800/1066 memory, 2.0MP webcam, and a bunch of other goodies.
Panasonic this week introduced several upgrades to its existing Toughbook 19 rugged convertible tablet PC, including the addition of an Intel Core i5 540UM processor clocked at 1.2GHz (with Turbo Boost up to 2.0GHz).
Other features include 2GB of DDR3 memory (expandable to 8GB), a 10.4-inch LED backlit touchscreen display, 160GB SATA hard drive (optional 128GB SSD), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, two USB 2.0 ports, SD card slot, and other ho-hum specs.
The real selling point here is the rugged design. According to Panasonic, the Toughbook 19 exceeds the MIL-STD-810G certification and can withstand a six-foot drop. The hard drive is shock-mounted and the magnesium alloy case has been certified for all kinds of nasty conditions, such as sand storms and heavy rain.
The Toughbook 19 is available now starting at $3,400 street.