Quick look: Itronix goes semirugged

GoBook VR-1 is tougher than the average business laptop

Itronix, a General Dynamics company, has long been a big player in the ruggedized laptop PC market. Recently, however, the company entered a new space with its introduction of the GoBook VR-1, Itronix’s first semirugged laptop.

Semirugged laptops appeal to customers who need something tougher than the average business laptop but not as tough — or expensive — as the fully ruggedized laptops used by organizations such as the military.

chart The VR-1 is designed primarily for in-vehicle use, a popular application for law enforcement officers. But Itronix is also offering an office dock, the company’s first.

The system meets the military standard Mil-Std 810F for vibration and extreme temperature specifications, which are two of the environmental factors most likely to occur inside a vehicle. The laptop features a tough magnesium alloy case, a spill-resistant keyboard and palm rest area, and a shock-mounted hard drive and display. It can survive a drop of 30 inches, according to Itronix.

The VR-1 weighs 5.8 pounds. A comfortable, sturdy handle with a rubber grip makes the notebook easy to carry.

Its touch-screen capability makes the laptop much easier to use when it is mounted in a vehicle or in other situations where typing on the keyboard is inconvenient, although the 12-inch display is on the small side.

Users will never be out of touch because of the plethora of wireless communications available. The VR-1 supports 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi standards, wireless wide-area networks and Bluetooth.

The laptop also supports General Packet Radio Service/Enhanced Data Global System for Mobile Communications Environment and 1x real-time technology/Evolution-Data Optimized wireless networks. In addition, the laptop accommodates any future wireless technology because it has an optional user-upgradable module called Common Radio Module Architecture Express.

The security features on our unit included a removable hard drive and an integrated fingerprint reader. In addition to those features, customers can order the laptop with an optional smart card reader.

Several other extras are noteworthy, too. A little keyboard-illuminating light pops out of the bezel at the top of the display when you press a button, and you can adjust its brightness using keys on the keyboard.

An ambient light sensor saves your computer’s battery life by automatically adjusting the display brightness, dimming the laptop’s screen when you’re using it in darker conditions.

The $2,766 review unit that we tested was configured with a 1.86 GHz Intel Pentium M processor, an 80G hard drive and 2G of memory.

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