The Pipeline

Is it tough enough?

Is it tough enough?

Ruggedized notebook PCs used in combat zones may scoff at the cushy lives of their office-based brethren, but all portable computers face hazards such as drops, bumps, turbulence and spills.

Notebook vendors are catching on and equipping more of their business notebooks with ruggedized features that help them better withstand frequent airplane trips, cab rides and other travel adventures.

One of the latest pumped-up business notebooks is the Tecra A8 from Toshiba. Its predecessor boasted a handful of rugged features, but the A8 adds several more.

One is a repositioned and thickened motherboard. The repositioning allows the chassis to direct more shock away from the motherboard, and the thickening reduces flex.

Another improvement is a thicker vibration dome, which is a protective shell that surrounds the hard drive to help protect it from being shaken, rattled or rolled.

Toshiba has also reinforced the hinge and keyboard to make them better able to withstand a lot of use. An enhanced display cover gives the screen more protection.

The new features add to the physical protection Toshiba was already incorporating into its notebook PCs, such as shock-absorbing materials surrounding the hard drive and display, which are housed in their own casings; impact bumpers on the PC’s corners; a spill-resistant keyboard; and a feature that parks the hard drive’s head when the PC experiences sudden acceleration from a drop or turbulence.

For security, the Tecra A8 includes the Trusted Platform Module, an embedded chipset that stores encryption keys, passwords and user credentials to prevent unauthorized access.

It also has an integrated fingerprint reader with single-sign-on capability.

The Tecra A8 covers your wireless communications needs with 802.11a/b/g included in the standard configuration and Bluetooth available as an option.

Toshiba also includes a couple of proprietary features. One is the company’s recently upgraded utility for managing graphic connectivity called ConfigFree. The other is Toshiba’s patented Diversity Antenna, which integrates dual-band Wi-Fi antennas and strategically placed Bluetooth technology in the notebook PC’s display.

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