Ruggedized, portable computers are designed to operate under harsh conditions that are inherent in police, fire and military environments. Since different levels of ruggedness are required for specific applications, it is important to choose the option that will be most effective. The degree of protection against dust, vibration, drops, immersion, and extreme temperatures determines whether a laptop or notebook is categorized as semi-rugged or fully rugged.
Semi-rugged devices are not fully sealed against water and other outdoor elements, but still offer a certain degree of protection against harsh temperatures, extreme vibration and moisture on the keyboard. With a full magnesium casing and shock-mounted hard disk drive, this class of computer protects against shock and vibration, and can also handle drops of up to 3 feet. Some semi-ruggedized units offer a shock-mounted display screen, additional cushioning material around key components, and a keyboard lighting system for night-time use.
Designed from the inside-out, fully rugged devices are certified to military standards and can withstand extreme temperatures, drops, shocks and vibrations. With a higher IP (Ingress Protection) rating, they offer greater protection against rain, fog, wind, dust, sand, humidity, as well as hot and cold ambient temperature. Fully rugged laptops typically have an internal cooling system to reduce the heat produced by the microprocessor, and some offer an internal heater that allows the device to operate in below-zero temperatures.
Determining the degree of ruggedness required depends on the type of conditions the computer will be exposed to. A semi-rugged computer would be a good choice for a patrol car where the device rarely leaves the vehicle. However, devices used in SWAT scenarios must be able to withstand severe conditions, requiring fully rugged models. While the following companies offer a full line of rugged laptops, we selected one product from each company specifically designed for harsh environments.
Designed specifically for patrol vehicles, Brite’s FM1200 is a rugged all-in-one tablet solution that features a 12.1-inch 1200 NIT screen with resistive touchscreen for optimum viewing. With a spill-resistant keyboard and shock-mounted removable hard drive, it meets or exceeds MIL-STD-810F. Other features include an Intel® Core™ Duo Processor, up to 8 GB DDR2 800 MHz memory, and numerous ports. The FM1200 fits into the Brite ergonomic Swing Away system, which places the monitor in front of the dash without physically altering the vehicle. Pricing starts at $3,800.
As a distributor of custom configured computing platforms, Brite Computers also recommends the low-cost Fujitsu™ Lifebook® T731 convertible notebook in the Swing Away mount. This lightweight notebook features an Intel® i7 vPro™ processor, two-finger touch usability, and offers the heightened security of the Fingerprint Sensor. The notebook comes with a three-year Quality Care warranty and lists for approximately $3,500, which includes mounting, peripherals, console, base plates and armrest.
The V1200 is one of three wireless-enabled vehicle-mounted computers offered by DAP Technologies. This compact yet rugged device is IP 65 sealed with a precision-milled aluminum enclosure and meets or exceeds MIL-STD-810F. Available with a variety of processor, memory and storage options, it can be customized to fit any application. Multiple Windows and Linux operating systems are offered, and customers can purchase the V1200 with either an Intel® Atom™ 1.6 GHz or Intel® Core™ Duo 1.66 GH processor.
With WLAN, WWAN, and GPRS/GSM 3G technologies, the V1200 provides reliable and secure mobile connectivity for field operation. The 12-inch indoor/outdoor touchscreen features backlight-adjustable displays for heightened visibility in a broad range of lighting conditions. Multi-use serial ports support legacy peripherals such as barcode scanners and RFID readers. DAP Technologies offers worldwide support and service through its locations in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Pricing for the V1200 varies depending on the selected options.
The Latitude E6420 XFR is part of the Dell family of rugged solutions that meets the challenges facing first responders and law enforcement personnel. This fully mobile computer has been independently tested to MIL-STD-810G, IP65, MIL-STD-461F, and UL1604 standards for maximum protection against water, dust, accidental drops, and extreme temperatures. It features BallisticArmor™ rugged technologies, such as PR-72™ chassis material, PrimoSeal™ ingress protection, and QuadCool™ thermal management.
The 14.0-inch HD antiglare LED display features Direct Vue™ technology for sunlit readability and an optional resistive touchscreen. The Latitude E6420 XFR delivers powerful performance with Intel® Core™ processor options, high-bandwidth DDR3 memory, and wireless connectivity options. Six-cell ExpressCharge™ batteries that recharge to 80 percent in one hour and extended-life battery options ensure greater productivity in the field. The Latitude E6420 XFR is offered in Essential, Enhanced and Performance models, all with three-year warranties and limited on-site service after remote diagnosis. Pricing starts at just over $4,500.
DRS Tactical Systems/ARMOR
The ARMOR X10gx Tablet offers high-performance communications capabilities that include Gobi™ Wireless Broadband, RF Switching, Integrated GPS, 802.11 Connectivity, and Bluetooth® Wireless.
Employing an advanced magnesium alloy chassis that reduces weight without compromising durability, the ARMOR X10gx is fully compliant with MIL-STD-810G and IP67-rated for ingress protection. It resists shock, vibration, temperature extremes, and is virtually impervious to moisture, dust, sand and more. A daylight readable, energy-efficient 10.4-inch LCD display and exclusive QuickBack™ Data Recovery System provides the highest level of protection for valuable data.
The ARMOR X7 is a more compact version of the ARMOR X10gx, rated MIL-STD-810G for extreme conditions and IP65-certified for ingress protection. It features a 7-inch WSVGA, sunlight-readable display, weighs 2.8 pounds, and has integrated non-slip hand grips. List prices for the X10gx and the X7 are $3,787 and $2,377, respectively. Both tablets come with a three-year limited warranty with extended coverage and customized service plans available on request.
With NvidiN11M Optimus technology and an Intel integrated graphics controller, the Durabook S15C2 combines rugged features and performance with the screen resolution and graphic processing power required for intensive applications. The flexible HDD cable design absorbs shock from drops, while the anti-shock mounting design protects the LCD screen and hard disk drive from damage and data loss. Built to MIL-STD-810G standards, the S15C2 notebook’s spill-resistant design stops spills from leaking into sensitive interior parts.
An exclusive optical-disk tray lock prevents accidental tray eject from drop and vibration, while double-protection smart battery circuitry prevents damage caused by current or voltage surges and overheating. Battery capacity is enhanced with Smart Battery Calibration, even after repeated charge-discharge cycles. The Durabook S15C2 comes with a standard two-year limited warranty and has an MSRP of $2,176.
General Dynamics Itronix
The GD8200 is a fully rugged notebook that leverages the second-generation Intel® Core™ i7-2655LE vPro™ mobile processor to maximize computational power while optimizing weight, power consumption and performance in extreme temperatures. MIL-STD-810G and IP65 certified, it offers the widest range of environmental certifications, and is protected against drops, sand, dust, water, shock and vibration. The GD8200 is equipped with DynaVue® II touchscreen display technology and a multi-touch touchpad for advanced functionality.
Specialized solutions can be designed to customer specification, including options such as integrated GPS, 4G LTE and security technologies. Data is kept safe and protected with multiple security technologies, such as anti-theft, user authentication and virtualization. Consistent vehicle mounting allows customers to upgrade their fully rugged notebooks without replacing vehicle docks, significantly reducing total cost of ownership. With a three-year warranty, prices for the GD8200 range from $4,000 to $6,000.
Using Getac’s new KryptoShell™ body, the S400 is able to meet or exceed MIL-STD-8140G criteria for shock, vibration, temperature, and 2.5-foot drops on six faces. The S400 comes with advanced security features that include a fingerprint scanner, TPM 1.2 and a smart card reader. This vehicle-mounted computer features a sunlight-readable 14-inch wide-screen display and delivers connectivity with an integrated Gobi™ 2000 mobile broadband card.
Other features include a water-resistant backlit mechanical keyboard, customizable Quick Keys, and -15C low temperature operation. The S400 is covered by a three-year warranty that includes all major system components. All warranty repairs are done by expert technicians using original Getac production parts. The company’s online RMA Request Service allows customers to access their account where they can view invoices and product serial numbers, track warranty status, and manage their service history. The S400 is priced at $3,699.
Small and lightweight, Mobile Demand’s x Tablet T7000 is the perfect choice for law enforcement applications, such as field command center operations and situational analysis. With dimensions of 8.8 inches W x 5.7 inches H x 1.56 inches D, the xTablet T7000 provides one-hand operation, allowing police officers to keep one hand unencumbered at all times for increased mobility and safety. Tested for MIL-STD-810G/F and IP65-certified, it can withstand drops, shock, water resistance, dust and temperature.
The xTablet T7000 features a built-in numeric keypad for data entry, an All-Light Readable 7-inch Display, and Secure Wireless LAN and WWAN communications. With integrated components that provide streamlined application development and greater ease of data management, it requires less IT support than consumer grade devices. Hot-swappable dual battery packs provide uninterrupted operation for optimum productivity in the field. The xTablet T7000 ranges in price from $1,900 to $2,800, depending on the number of features and upgrades.
Motorola’s MW810 is a rugged fixed-mount computer that provides secure, reliable wireless connectivity and computing power for demanding environments. This highly compact system features a flexible three-piece design, making it ideal for space-limited vehicles. The MW810 offers three powerful Intel® processor options and 2 GB DDR3 DRAM 1066 Mhz of internal memory, expandable to 8 GB. Multiple expansion board options allow all vehicle types to be outfitted with the same CPU platform for streamlined maintenance and life cycle management.
The MW810 is MIL-STD-810G tested and IP54 certified, and features a transflective, high contrast display for enhanced performance even in difficult lighting conditions. Optimized for wireless, the MW810 delivers robust coverage and increased throughput, even at highway speeds. It comes with a three-year warranty and has a list price of $5,260. Customers can contact a Motorola Solutions sales representative regarding applicable discounts based on exact system configuration and volume purchase.
OEM Micro Solutions
Since the release of its first Mobile Tactical Computer, the MTC-1, in 2002, OEM Micro Solutions has continued to work closely with its customers to provide them with exceptional advanced electronic systems. With a 2.00 GHz Core 2 Duo Intel® P8200 Embedded CPU and 2 Gb DDR2 RAM (upgradeable to 8 Gb), the MTC-3+ is the company’s third generation of in-vehicle computers that delivers the high performance capabilities needed to run demanding applications simultaneously.
Other features of the MTC-3+ include a high-resolution LCD monitor with an adjustable full-bright to off feature, a standard resistive touchscreen, and a welded aluminum enclosure and steel keyboard tray for additional protection and durability. OEM Micro now offers the MTC-3+ Standard for agencies working within a budget, which has all the same features and functionality of the MTC-3+, but with slightly lower LCD brightness and processor speed, and a smaller hard drive. The full-featured MTC-3+ is priced in the mid-$4,000 range and the new Standard model is priced at just under $4,000.
With its convertible notebook-to-tablet design, Panasonic’s fully rugged Toughbook 19 is a lightweight, wireless laptop that is certified for MIL-STD-810 G and IP65. Equipped with a shock-mounted flex-connect hard drive with quick release and a full magnesium alloy case that can withstand a 6-foot drop, the Toughbook 19 is the perfect solution for mission-critical environments. The 10.4-inch LED touchscreen is capable of up to 6000 NIT in direct sunlight and features Panasonic Circulumin™ technology.
The Toughbook 19 offers a choice of either 3G Gobi™ or 4G LTE Mobile Broadband. Other features include an Intel® Core™ i5 vPro™ processor, 2.5GHz with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz, and enhanced wireless encryption and authentication. A lithium ion battery pack delivers nine hours of operation and charges in just 3.5 hours. The Toughbook 19 comes with a three-year limited warranty on parts and labor and is priced at $3,349.
As one of RoboVu’s three core competencies, the RoboCUBE is a mobile in-vehicle technology solution for police, fire, EMS and military applications. This rugged computing system features a compact, all-in-one design, giving personnel in the field more space in which to operate. Housed in a precision-milled aluminum chassis, it meets MIL-STD-810 E & F specs and is offered with an optional IP rating up to 67.
The RoboCUBE features a super-low processor with 45 nm technology that allows fanless operation for optimal reliability, and minimizes incursion of dust, dirt and moisture. Other features include an extreme environment removable hard drive, an Intel Core Duo® processor, up to 8 GB 800 MHz DDR2 of internal memory and a 1,200 NIT display. Customers can choose between a five-year or three-year warranty with credit for trade-in at the end of the third year. The MSRP for the RoboCUBE is $5,895.
Featuring a spill-proof keyboard and magnesium alloy case, the Black Hawk Duo incorporates the latest hardware, wireless and security technologies in one rugged package. This semi-rugged notebook offers desktop-level mobile performance and a wide range of CPU choices, from a 1.8 GHz Core™ Duo processor up to a 2.6 GHz Core™ Duo processor. MIL-STD-810F compliant, the Black Hawk Duo is drop, spill and shock resistant. A 15.4-inch Widescreen LCD and an optional sunlight readable display make it the ideal mobility solution for outdoor applications.
With optional Intel® Centrino™ 802.11agn and a built-in 3G WWAM module, the Black Hawk Duo delivers robust mobile connectivity in the most rugged environments. Available security features include TPM, SmartCard reader, and hardware-based full disk encryption by Seagate and Secude. Data protection and recovery features are available as well with BIOS-enable Computrace® software. Pricing for the Black Hawk Duo starts at $1,036.
Xplore’s iX104C5 Dual-Mode Sunlight-Readable (DSMR) Tablet was designed to operate in the most demanding environments. MIL-STD-810G and IP67 tested, this fully rugged tablet is HazLoc-certified, submersible and dust tight, with a 7-foot operating drop spec (4 feet to concrete). It features Intel® Core™ i7 architecture, Turbo Boost technology, standard 2GB DDR3 memory that is expandable up to 8GB, and the highest performing wWAN/wLAN and GPS.
Equipped with an AllVue™ Xtreme sunlight-readable display, the iX104C5 provides clearer visibility in outdoor conditions. According to Dan Morris, Xplore’s Director of Product Marketing and Military Programs, what places this device above the competition is its contrast ratio. “Against brighter displays, users choose ours because of this, and because of the large viewing cone of 178 degrees, or 89 degrees off axis,” Morris said. With a standard three-year limited warranty, the iX104C5 has a list price of $4,600.
Susan Geoghegan is a freelance writer living in Naples, Florida. She can be reached at email@example.com.