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Military Grade Laptops 296

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the when-cpu-comes-second dept.
bllb writes "Slate has an article about the "waterproof, vaporproof, shockproof" laptops the military is using. It's not at the cutting edge of performance, but it's nice to see some bombproof hardware." Most of the laptops I've owned over the years died through dropping or drowning, so maybe I should look into something a little more sturdy ;)
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Military Grade Laptops

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  • Yes, but... (Score:4, Funny)

    by dooby (579019) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:14AM (#5573879)
    Will they survive 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven?
    • Re:Yes, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dooby (579019) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:30AM (#5573947)
      I was thinking more of the baked Powerbook G4 [mac.com], but anyway, the article implies the 'GoBook MAX' will survive an oven...
    • Re:Yes, but... (Score:4, Informative)

      by stratjakt (596332) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:31AM (#5573949) Journal
      "We drop each one 54 times from one meter, bake it in an oven, chill it in a freezer, vibrate it, and submit it to a shower of hurricane proportions,"

      Apparently so.
    • by w1r3sp33d (593084) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:32AM (#5573950)
      My wife used to work for Itronix and these will run indefinetly at 140 degrees (the official numbers.) While I was in the infantry I once spent the month of August in Death Valley and I can tell you we NEVER hit 140, 127 with MOPP4 and kevlar is no picnic, but it wouldn't of phased this laptop. They don't have the high end horse power of the p4 laptop I am on right now, but knowing what these things can go through, they are amazing.
      • these will run indefinetly at 140 degrees

        These guys have invented a perpetual motion machine and they're only bragging about how hot it can get? Man, we need to have a chat with Marketing....

  • by name_already_taken (540581) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:14AM (#5573883)
    Or buy a Panasonic toughbook.

    Seriously though, I've owned laptops for about ten years now and I've never dropped one.Stop coating your hands with butter before you pick the laptop up!

    • Some of us are just clumsy though, and live in clumsy households. I have been known to break bits of my flat such as doorframes with my flailing limbs so I'm sure my iBook has a MTBA (Mean Time Between Accidents) of about 24 months, even without butter!

    • Re:Be more careful! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:36AM (#5573967)
      That is what the Canadian Army uses. Rugged especially the CF-27 although the 28 is a bit less rugged.
      • by wwwgregcom (313240) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @01:32PM (#5574475) Journal

        That is what the Canadian Army uses. Rugged especially the CF-27 although the 28 is a bit less rugged.


        So what is that, a total of three laptop sales?

        Just a joke, I love Canada
  • wtf?? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:17AM (#5573893)
    "We drop each one 54 times from one meter, bake it in an oven, chill it in a freezer, vibrate it, and submit it to a shower of hurricane proportions,"

    Who the fuck would buy a beaten up piece of shit like that??
    • 54 times? (Score:5, Funny)

      by sczimme (603413) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:00PM (#5574057)

      We drop each one 54 times from one meter

      This seems rather time consuming. Why don't they just drop them once from a height of 54 meters? That would be the same, right?

      :-)
    • Torture Testing (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Gerry Gleason (609985)
      Is a time honored practice for devices that need to stand up to a lot of abuse. A guitar player friend of mine swore by his Mesa Boggie amp, claiming that part of their manufacturing was dropping the amps and then fixing anything that broke and repeating until nothing breaks anymore. Sure, you might put a few dents or scratches on it (probably before putting the final finish coverring on), but it is much less likely to need servicing for any reason. Any marginal parts are broken and replaced before you g
  • crazy price... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hatrisc (555862) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:18AM (#5573898) Homepage
    the fact that you can buy 4 new laptops equivalent in speed, ram, hdd space, etc almost makes it not worth while. i think i'd take 4 new notebooks than one that's heavy clunky and extremely well designed.

    but hey, what do i know, my laptop weighs 9 lbs and never leaves my house.
    • Re:crazy price... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pbranes (565105) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:21AM (#5573916)
      Well, if you believe that, then the laptop isn't for you. They say in the article that it is meant for people who work in hazardous areas and need a working laptop that can stand up to whatever they can throw at it, not a fast & cheap laptop.

      I don't think I'd buy one of these laptops either because I'm not likely to be fighting a chemical spill or a fire while working on my laptop.

    • They say you can easily drop it 1m 54 times. So if you were planning to use it in that kind of enviroment, you would have to take a _lot_ of replacements.
    • by Gekko (45112) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:33AM (#5573954)
      You obviously don't understand the NEED for rugadized computers. What good is 4 crappy comercial laptops when your on a ship that is torpedoed or a plane that crashes? Those four laptops will be toast, but a properly rugadized computer has a good choice of still running. This is important when your LIFE may depend on that laptop.
    • Re:crazy price... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:58AM (#5574045)
      That is because your data is 100% worthless. Even to you by your own admission.

      The panasonic toughbook and the military units contain priceless data and in the military people will DIE if it fails.

      you are a consumer with absolutely useless and value-less data.

      it is not for you.
    • by The Tyro (247333) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:38PM (#5574225)

      But I've always dropped my laptops while carrying or transporting them, never while actually using them... so I went a different route.

      Try getting a regular laptop, and putting it in one of the cases made by these guys [pelican.com] (No, I don't work for them)

      I've taken my laptop to all kinds of places, including some inhospitable places in the very area of the world where lots of bombs are currently being dropped; no problems. Those cases come with a lifetime warranty... they're waterproof, shock-resistant, dustproof (VERY important in the desert), and have automatic pressure relief valves for that unpressurized tactical airlift you're sometimes required to use.

      They cost about 150$, but that's chump change compared to the price of a Mil-Spec computer; the money difference is much better spent upgrading the actual laptop.

      YMMV, but that's the way I solved the problem.
    • Re:crazy price... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Longing (23218) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:41PM (#5574236) Homepage
      I'm a professional soldier, so here's what I have to say.

      If I'm called on to go to visit my colleagues who are already in Iraq, I'll be carrying over 130 lbs of protective gear, weapons, ammo, rucksack and equipment, and the bulk of it goes on my back. A plane and a parachute gets me to my DZ and I walk from there.

      Military equipment is bulky and heavy. Take the PLGR [dla.mil] (Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver). The last picture [si.edu] shows it's size. This puppy weighs 2.75 pounds and is huge. Compare to any Garmin, Magellan, Lowrance and others whose products weigh less than a pound and are a quarter of the size. (Blah, blah, Selective Availability. Another discussion.)

      Another example: The Mortar Ballistic Computer [155.217.58.58] weighs 7 lbs and makes my Gameboy Advance (cheap entertainment in the field) look like a Cray Supercomputer. Oh, and it's roughly 20x larger than the GBA.

      So if I had the room in my ruck for a laptop (I don't), and I could justify spending $4500 on it - four months' pay (I took a slight paycut when I quit my sysadmin job in Silicon Valley for the opportunity to get gassed in Iraq), you could bet I'd be buying one of these and not FOUR pieces of crap that are going to break when I hit the DZ.

      Cheers! :)
      • Re:crazy price... (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        OTOH, I dropped my PLGR once and accidentally kicked it into the path of a pickup truck and it was promptly run over. Dug it out of the dirt, smacked it a few times, and it ran fine.

        Try that with a gameboy.

        On the gripping hand, the amount of crap we're expected to carry nowadays is ludicrous. Someone tell the boys in R&D that we're not ALL mechanized.

    • One area where ruggedised laptops are usefull is on stage with a band. The Sisters of Mercy use several military grade laptops (aging 80386 based beasts) for sequencing - totally obsolete by most peoples standards, but ideal for the Sisters purpose. I've tried using a similar setup, laptop with a USB MIDI interface and the rosegarden sequencer, which worked quite well.

      Chris
  • Nice! (Score:3, Funny)

    by fredrikj (629833) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:20AM (#5573906) Homepage
    But does it survive a BSOD?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:21AM (#5573911)
    I remember a Washington Post Article where some Marine Private was evaluating his 733t new computer. "I could beat someone to death with this battery pack..."
    • by sql*kitten (1359) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @01:11PM (#5574349)
      I remember a Washington Post Article where some Marine Private was evaluating his 733t new computer. "I could beat someone to death with this battery pack..."

      There was an old story, possibly apocryphal, about the USMC evaluating a piece of kit from DEC. A marine driving a forklift accidentally dropped a fighter jet engine on it, but the VAX wasn't damaged. The Marine Corps signed the purchase order that day.
  • Makes sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SlimFastForYou (578183) <konsoleman@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:21AM (#5573913) Journal
    My laptop just took a lil fall and the screen went cracky cracky. I can still read what the screen says, but its too bad that this laptop wasn't the one I dropped.

    I wonder how they have the hard drive set up, or if they use flash. Normally, any hard drive experiencing even a small shock can be easily destroyed if the head is reading.

    700 MhZ isn't too great but you could always take it in the shower for some good 'ol pr0n. ;)
    • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sam Nitzberg (242911)
      Some rugged / military notebooks or other systems subject to shock have dampening systems for their hard drive mountings.

      But, you probably don't want to shell out the $$$ for most civilian uses.

      Sam Nitzberg
      http://www.iamsam.com
      http://www.Nitzbe rgSecurityAssociates.com
    • Hardened hard drives (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 87C751 (205250) <sdot&rant-central,com> on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:38AM (#5573971) Homepage
      Hard drives can be made to withstand a lot of punishment. 10 years ago, I saw a demo at a trade show where a 2.5" HP hard drive was attached to the end of a 30" bar. A motor and crank lifted the end of the bar 18" above a steel plate and then dropped it. There was an O-scope hooked up to the read channel, and it barely fluctuated at impact.

      Granted, I don't expect consumer-channel equipment to be that strong.

  • toughbooks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hawwy (235434) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:24AM (#5573921) Homepage
    wired ran an article [wired.com] a few weeks ago about how the army was using rugged panasonic laptops [panasonic.com] for operations. one of their gis guys was having trouble manipulating huge images with them and had the government ship over a titanium powerbook which is apparently holding up fine.
  • Or do they come equipped with heat pads for our boys' laps? ;)
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:24AM (#5573928)


    OK, what about aweproof?

    • Won't stop them being stolen or left in a taxi.
    • Infantry proof?
      • Infantry Proof (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Detritus (11846)
        That's tough to do. I once saw an electronics box from a tactical missile launcher in the repair shop. It made a sloshing noise when moved. Some bright G.I. had removed the cover from the dessicant cartridge holder and inserted a garden hose. The box did work after it was disassembled, dried out and reassembled.

        A friend who worked in the radio repair shop reported less success with several radio sets that had been run over by tanks in the motor pool during vehicle maintenance.

  • by n9fzx (128488) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:26AM (#5573931) Homepage Journal
    Reliable hardware is of course a Good Thing, but without some improvements in software reliability, you're buying a HumVee when a Yugo would do. The old Bell Labs standard called for 1/3 of system faults to be ascribed to hardware, 1/3 to software, and 1/3 to operator error. Most available operating systems clearly aren't there yet, and can't even match the reliability of existing off-the-shelf motherboards and power supplies.

    Having said that, it's also clear that some operating systems, owing to their monlithic architecture, will never improve. At least with Unix, you can discard what you don't need, reducing the volume of code that has to be checked. That's a major reason why Microsoft's "Trustworthy Computing" initiative is such a joke -- you can't get rid of the crapola, heck you can't even see the crapola!

    • by dan g (30777) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:21PM (#5574153) Homepage
      I'm not sure what you meant by the term, but if you are talking about operating systems and kernels, Unix systems are generally monolithic whereas windows (nt and on) are microkernel(ish) architectures.

      You say that on Unix you can throw away what you don't need but that on Windows you "can't even see the crapola". You certainly can't open up Solaris, cut out what you don't need, and recompile for a leaner version so I assume you meant Linux or BSD. But obviously you can only do that with those OSes because they are open source, it really has nothing to do with their architecture.

      dan.
      • Certainly, recompiling the kernel can slim it down, but that's not the whole story.

        Beyond the kernel, any Unix is a collection of tools that fit together to make an OS. Need to embed it? remove X, replace init with the embedded app, remove all of the system tools and shells.

        In contrast, with MS, it's a pain to even remove the stupid web browser, much less the entire GUI system.

    • It's called BSOD.
    • by hkon (46756) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @01:07PM (#5574335) Homepage

      The old Bell Labs standard called for 1/3 of system faults to be ascribed to hardware, 1/3 to software, and 1/3 to operator error. Most available operating systems clearly aren't there yet

      That doesn't sound quite right. At least, if the users at Bell are anything like the users where I work, hardware and software really have to fail a lot more frequently if they're going to keep up with the operator errors.
    • That's a major reason why Microsoft's "Trustworthy Computing" initiative is such a joke -- you can't get rid of the crapola, heck you can't even see the crapola!

      I can see the crapola.

      It starts "Welcome to Windows. Press Ctrl-Alt-Delete to begin"
  • by hillct (230132) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:28AM (#5573940) Homepage Journal
    Ss you want to sell laptops to the US Army?

    Yes, would you like to test it out?

    Yes, Put it over there.

    [Officer aims a rifle at the laptop and puts a hole the size of a small tangerine through the case]

    I'm sorry. Your product has failed our quality inspection. Have a nice day.
    • Does the Army trust its officers with rifles? I thought they only got to play with the M9's. . . :)

      • [weak humor]

        They get non-functioning replica's so they don't stand out to the snipers.

        You might think that's unfortunate since now a hardworking NCO or private may get hit. However if officers stood out we'd soon run out of West Pointer and 90-day-wonders from ROTC and then some NCO would get a field promotion, have to fill the whole in the org chart, and we'd start loosing the really useful people at too high a rate.

        [/weak humor]>

    • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:50PM (#5574277) Homepage
      Supposedly before the M1 Garand rifle was accepted as the primary service rifle, immediately before World War II, the Army finished it's "scientific" testing and thought they would let the Marines check it out. The Marines soaked a couple of rifles in seawater, attached ropes and dragged them back and forth across sand, and then tried to fire the rifles. Gotta love pracical folk.

      I somehow envision the Marine laptop evaluation to replace the 1 meter drop onto concrete test with bash-an-enemy-on-the-head test.
      • This is why I'm surprised the US military (or the Marines) don't use glocks. Tests such as described have been undergone repeatedly - one was to drive over it reapeatedly, one was to soak it in a silty riverbed for an hour (then fire one clip, and repeat 10x or so), one was soaking it in water (and repeating previous example), one was to use a degreaser on it and then fire 10 clips, etc... after each of the tests, the pistol still fired the clips as if it were straight from the factory.

        I don't know about a
  • iBooks... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Squidgee (565373) <squidgeeOO1@hotmailRASP.com minus berry> on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:29AM (#5573942)
    FYI, iBooks are also very, very sturdy. Mine took a leap from a table (~3ft up) due to dog, and survived. And it was on, with the screen open, and CD-ROM drive out (It shootso ut form the side). And it landed on its side.

    My friend also sent his for a trip down the stairs (Screen open, iBook on), and it still works A.O.K.

    So, you could also buy an iBook, and it will survive the same falls.

    • Until you drop it the second time. Or you're just not as lucky as with your experiences.
    • by zozzi (576178) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:38AM (#5573973)
      FYI, iBooks are also very, very sturdy. Mine took a leap from a table (~3ft up) due to dog, and survived. And it was on, with the screen open, and CD-ROM drive out (It shootso ut form the side). And it landed on its side.

      Did the dog survive after all this???

    • Re:iBooks... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:40AM (#5573984)
      Good for you. Most laptops can survive a 3 foot drop. Try doing a google search for laptop + 3 + feet + drop and see all the people talking about all their laptops that they dropped 3 feet and had them survive.

      All your ibook has to do now is survive being baked in an oven, chilled in a freezer, vibrated, and submitted to a shower of hurricane proportions, and then it is relevant to this article.

      Disclaimer: I own an ibook and am, in fact, typing on it now.
    • One time is luck.
      If it survives being dropped from 1 - 1.5 meters onto asfalt or concrete a few times (say four or five), I'll agree that it's sturdy. :)

      Hehe, regarding sturdy laptops (Or rather: Being lucky with your standard laptop)
      A friend of mine got mad at his laptop at work, slammed close the lid, dropped it on the floor, stood on it with both feet and shouted at it a few times.
      It still worked afterwards, without any errors. =)
      On the other hand, we had other laps of the same brand and model that woul
      • One time is luck. If it survives being dropped from 1 - 1.5 meters onto asfalt or concrete a few times (say four or five), I'll agree that it's sturdy. :)

        Buy me a test iBook and I'll be happy to try it out. ;)

    • by evilviper (135110) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:59AM (#5574055) Journal
      Mine took a leap from a table


      My friend also sent his for a trip down the stairs

      Come on... admit it... There really is no friend is there... :-)
    • Re:iBooks... (Score:5, Informative)

      by edmo (619449) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:06PM (#5574086)
      To anser all the people asking if the ibook can stand up to more than 1 fall, the anser is yes
      there are currently 3 ibooks in my immediate family, and all have been dropped several times(usually resulting from younger siblings wanting a turn). The highest drop mine has taken was about 2.5 meters and there is no notable damage aside from a few scratches here and there.
      while I haven't tried myself I do remember reading that ibooks can survive some time in an oven, being run over by trucks, being hit in the screen w/ a baseball bat, in fact I'm fairly certain they can survive water, altho not when on(apples old 5300's could)...
    • by Galvatron (115029) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @01:20PM (#5574389)
      iBooks are terribly made. My girlfriend has one, and the ethernet jack is totally borked. She can't even remember having done anything to it, but we speculate that she must have tripped over the ethernet cord. Certainly if she'd done something more dramatic, she'd remember.

      Anyway, Apple's "wonderful" repair centers are refusing to fix it under warranty because it is "accidental damage or mistreatment." Since iBooks do not have PCMCIA ports, and usb ethernet devices only work with Macs, she has two choices. She can either pay the outrageous $775 that Apple is charging to repair an ethernet jack with a few broken pins, or else buy an AirPort card and 802.11b base station.

      It should also be mentioned that the power connector is very fragile. Being stepped on can bend it completely out of shape, and it is very difficult to get back in the right shape, because it has to be basically a perfect circle.

      The test of laptop sturdiness, IMHO, is not whether it can survive the dramatic falls, but whether it can survive the minor, day to day damage over a prolonged period. Can it survive being tripped over, carried around in a backpack, etc? I have a 4 year old Dell laptop that I have treated far more roughly than my girlfriend has treated her 6 month old iBook. The Dell looks a little worse for the wear, but works perfectly. The iBook still looks shiny and new, but has been completely crippled.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:31AM (#5573948)
    "We drop each one 54 times from one meter, bake it in an oven, chill it in a freezer, vibrate it, and submit it to a shower of hurricane proportions,"

    So another words, each one of these laptops receives the same treatment a Dell laptop does from the local courier company?
  • You can drop a Game Boy Advance in the toilet and it will work fine after it dries for 12-24 hours.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:40AM (#5573983)
    [posted anonymously, no karma-whoring for me :)]

    Perhaps msn should invest in some military grade servers, it's already really hard to get trough...

    Here's the text for those who can't get it:

    The military's laptop of choice provokes shock and awe.
    By Paul Boutin
    Posted Friday, March 21, 2003, at 2:38 PM PT

    Tough enough for war

    Just as Desert Storm boosted the sales of Hummers and GPS handhelds, Gulf War II will spawn its own crossover hits, pieces of military equipment that become civilian fetish objects. A prediction: One of the war's big winners will be Itronix's GoBook MAX [gobookmax.com], a sort of Windows laptop on steroids. The GoBook MAX has already been spotted in video from the front, and Air Force firemen deployed in Turkey have them. If Gulf War II is the first Internet war, then a computer should be its first piece of military chic.

    No wider than an entry-level ThinkPad [ibm.com] but much thicker and heftier, the $4,500 GoBook MAX is a waterproof, vaporproof, shockproof piece of field equipment. "We drop each one 54 times from one meter, bake it in an oven, chill it in a freezer, vibrate it, and submit it to a shower of hurricane proportions," crows the GoBook's brochure. Unlike most laptop makers, Itronix [itronix.com] specializes in handheld gadgets for hardhats, not wussy desktop PCs. The GoBook MAX is designed for civilian emergency-response teams as well as soldiers in the field. In my hands-on tests, it easily survived a few tosses across the floor of a local Starbucks--plus a spill of my third double espresso onto its keyboard. Its rubber-gripped handle makes it feel like sports gear rather than fragile electronics.

    Itronix says the MAX is big among FBI bomb squads and NYPD anti-terrorist units. For government buyers, the MAX comes bundled with a restricted software package called CoBRA [defensegroupinc.com] (or Chemical Biological Response Aide), a search engine that can identify some 60,000 chemical agents, plus a few dozen biological threats. Select the symptoms of victims at a disaster scene, and CoBRA will tell you how long you have before your hazmat suit craps out.

    For civilians, the MAX offers features to rival new Centrino [msn.com]-powered laptops. Its 700 MHz CPU isn't the fastest, but built-in Cisco Wi-Fi and a heavy-duty antenna are available as factory options. Dual USB jacks and aPCMCIA [google.com] slot, protected by sturdy latches, are standard. CoBRA sales reps claim eight hours of work time from one charge to its heavy-duty (and just plain heavy) battery. Chem-bio response teams can't take off lunch to recharge.

    But the company's roughneck and military clientele belies its much larger potential market: professional parents. Finally, a laptop worthy of the term "toddler-proof." No disastrous crashes to the kitchen floor. No months of data lost to an incident with the sippy cup. Hazardous materials? Toss it in the dishwasher. Need to get out of the house? The handle flips back to mount the MAX open across the wheel of an SUV for mobile use. There's even an add-on DVD drive for movies.

    With the amount of money office workers spend on their cars alone, a couple thousand dollars more for a droppable, dishwasher-safe laptop is a no-brainer bargain in total cost of ownership. The GoBook MAX gives new meaning to the phrase "homeland security."

    ____________________end copy__________________________ __
    Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity

  • by disputin (464508) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:49AM (#5574012) Homepage
    The laptop isn't the problem. Most people are smart
    enough to keep it out of the rain and dust. Most of the components are sealed. The real problem was copiers and printers. If someone made a copier or printer that could be bounced around working in heat, cold and dust, they'd make a killing with the US Army.

    I don't need a sig - I gave up smoking
    • No shit... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kikta (200092) <jasonNO@SPAMkikta.net> on Saturday March 22, 2003 @01:43PM (#5574521)
      I spent two years stationed at Quantico as a Tech and the printers that would come into our shop from TBS (The Basic School) were the worst. I swear those motherfuckers were using their HP Laserjet 4's as wheel chocks for their Humvee's. They were always filled with sand & one time I found a huge-ass spider nest above the fuser! "Shit, Devildog, I don't know what's wrong with it." :-D
  • Offical Specs (Score:5, Informative)

    by CyberSlugGump (609485) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:49AM (#5574013)
    http://www.gobookmax.com/gobookmax/images/gobookma x.pdf [gobookmax.com]

    Mobile Pentium III/700, 256 MB of PC100 SDRAM, 20 GB IBM DJSA-200 hard disk, external 10x TEAC USB CD-ROM, external USB floppy, 4MB Silicon Motion LynxEM+ graphics, 10.4in SVGA touchscreen TFT, ESS Allegro PCI audio, integrated mono speaker, V.90 modem, integrated CISCO Wirelsss LAN PC Card, one Type II PC Card slot, plus support for VGA, serial and two USB, Windows 2000 Professional. Dimensions: 284 x 233 x 62mm (W x D x H) excludion handle. Weight 3.3 kg. [7.28 pounds]

    Note: The PDF wouldn't let me copy and paste the text, but I think I got it all right.
    • Re:Offical Specs (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dsmey (193342)
      Odd. My Sony Vaio came with that IBM DJSA-series hard drive, and it croaked after the first 1-foot drop it took while the PC was running. Sony replaced it with a Toshiba.

      I'd have to see the hard drive compartment to believe it.

  • by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@@@praecantator...com> on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:55AM (#5574033) Homepage
    Dolch [dolch.com] has been making these sorts of things for years now. Mostly aimed at scientific, construction, and engeneering field work (the military only started widely deploying laptops fairly recently). Their laptops can handle 15G's while running and 50 when turned off.
  • Stockwise that is? I know out in the workplace construction workers could really start to network operations and be more efficient with a little WiFi in there.
  • by CausticWindow (632215) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @11:58AM (#5574047)

    Since the US military never are the ones being bombed, but rather always the ones bombing.. what do they need this for?


    Part of their image I guess.. "Oh yes, we're getting bombed all the time".


    bomberclaad...

  • Computer Surplus Outlet occasionally has old used Itronix units available. I just ordered a P133 color unit with 32 MB and a 1.6 GB drive. I'm hoping I can get the thing to run Linux. It has no floppy, no CD - so I'll either have to find a cheap PCMCIA CDROM, or (hopefully) I can load it via a parallel port Zip drive.
    • Just pull the harddrive, and stuff it into another laptop. Just make sure you have a few different kernels pre-built when you stuff the drive back into the Itronix, so you can tell LILO what to try next..
  • Hmmm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Planx_Constant (594897) <planx.constant@gmail.com> on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:00PM (#5574059) Homepage
    Can they perform "military grade" encryption?
  • When I use my powerbook in daylight I hardly see anything, ofcourse they must have found something on it, since their notebook is made to last outside, but I wonder how they managed that.
  • by sabri (584428) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:05PM (#5574079)
    With the amount of money office workers spend on their cars alone, a couple thousand dollars more for a droppable, dishwasher-safe laptop is a no- brainer bargain in total cost of ownership. The GoBook MAX gives new meaning to the phrase "homeland security."

    I don't think the TCO is an issue here; I'm sure that most insurance companies (who nowadays pay for broken laptops) will be seeing these robust laptops as a positive development.

    Additionally, I really wonder if these laptops are protected against those EMP bombs..
  • From the article:

    The handle flips back to mount the MAX open across the wheel of an SUV for mobile use. There's even an add-on DVD drive for movies.

    Driving to work in the morning is dangerous enough with people on talking on cell phones, putting on make up, shaving, reading the f*ing newspaper, or eating breakfast (cold cereal with milk...) all while driving. I don't need some soccer mom trying to watch a movie or write an e-mail to Johnny while driving her Ford Behemoth to work in the morning. For r

  • by Len (89493) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:16PM (#5574130)
    Its 700 MHz CPU isn't the fastest...

    I wonder if it's even possible to put a P4 in one of these things. If they're sealed ("waterproof, vaporproof") then I don't think they could cool a fast CPU. Even the new Pentium M laptops need fans and air vents.

  • by snyrt (151824) <snyrt@onebox.com> on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:18PM (#5574136) Homepage
    i'm a pre-production engineer from technology advancement group, a company in dulles, va. we build systems very similar, though we've moved away from the laptops and build mostly rack mounted systems. our systems are build to be ruggedized from the component level in order to survive more shock than any other system around. all the chassis are custom designed and all components are tested thoroughly. our most impressive test is the barge test. we take our machine, put it inside it's fiberglass case, turn it on and link up to it with a wireless connection. we put it on a small barge in a lake and detonate depth charges beneath the barge. most of the time the barge will fall apart, the machine will go flying in the air and land floating in the water. while all this is happening it is linked to a system on land which is monitoring its work. we don't sell a system unless it can go through this test without missing a step. this is the beauty of ruggedized computers. there's a video of a barge test on our website [tag.com]
  • by ChefPsyconaut (652061) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:26PM (#5574174)
    And is anyone else surprised that there have been no EMP 'terrorist' attacks yet? Cheap, simple, minimal training, incredibly effective...
    • by blincoln (592401)
      And is anyone else surprised that there have been no EMP 'terrorist' attacks yet? Cheap, simple, minimal training, incredibly effective...

      Yeah, if you can get your hands on a nonexistent EMP weapon. Aside from nuclear weapons, EMP devices are all theoretical.

      Yes, I know about the Popular Science/Mechanics article where they made it seem like every terrorist could build a magic EMP bomb, and that the US was going to deploy them in Iraq. As soon as the war started, I saw a clip on the news where they asked
      • EMP devices are all theoretical

        Naw, anyone can make a coil of large gauge wire and a fast switched capacitor bank to make a high amperage pulse through it.....the question is, will it really be effective at damaging electronic equipment at a hundred yards or more away on a consistent basis? And even if it did, what if that equipment was in rugged military chassis, or more usually inside tank, armored transport, ship, concrete (with rebar) bunker, etc.

        I can only conclude the military has tried this
  • Ewww (Score:4, Funny)

    by huhmz (216967) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:38PM (#5574227)
    Most of the laptops I've owned over the years died through dropping or drowning

    Ewww Taco... That's a little more information than we needed thank you very much

    *goes to take long shower*
  • Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @12:46PM (#5574255) Homepage Journal
    I've been in the Marines for about 8 years and I've never seen these. I've seen some Panasonic Toughbooks but nowadays all we use are Dell latitudes. Of course, the Air Force has infinitely more $$$ than the Corps.
  • by Paul Doom (21946)
    You can pick up a nice magnesium shell ToughBook for cheap, if you are willing to put up with some sloth. They would make an excellent war driving box! Here is one source: (I am not affiliated, and I have never ordered from them)
    TelePro PC Store [yahoo.com]
  • Not so rugged... (Score:5, Informative)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@gOOOda ... inus threevowels> on Saturday March 22, 2003 @01:43PM (#5574518) Homepage
    In Antarctica [gdargaud.net], 1997. I had two rugged military laptops (Kontron [kontron.com]) for data acquisition and an HP Vectra desktop for use indoors. One of the laptops video fried when a snow machine started a few feet from it and the other didn't have the right connectors. I had to program an eprom on some equipment outside and just put the Vectra+Monitor on a box. For 4 hours at -45C and it worked fine. I even have a picture [gdargaud.net]. So it's not because there's a thicker case around a motherboard that it makes it more reliable...
  • by panurge (573432)
    If the thing was running VNC when it was dropped, what would that make the terminal velocity?

    Sorry.

  • by mrbrown1602 (536940) <mrbrownNO@SPAMmrbrown.net> on Saturday March 22, 2003 @02:52PM (#5574827) Homepage Journal
    I owned an older Itronix military grade model at one time. It was pretty cool, I threw it in the oven a few times and into a lake once, and it kept on working. But, we I finally threw it across the room and it landed on its corner... the hard drive ceased to function. ;-)
  • Depends on need (Score:2, Informative)

    by dwaggie (106338)
    Walkabout (who make a lot of 'hardened' laptops') have a few slower, but very versatile books that have IR ports that can be rigged to be used over packet radio for network connectivity. They have a stylus that you have to use as a pointer device, but they're small, not terribly heavy for a milspec laptop.

    Now, Panasonic Toughbooks are NICE. They're completely touchscreen, you can use fingers, pencils, pens, the provided stylus.. just about anything. They have onboard peripherals that are in air-tight / wat
  • I've seen some video on CNN of a "secret" miltary facility in the Iraq area and just about everyone there had something from the Dell Inspiron 8x00 series. Certainly not battlefield ready but certainly useful for mobility and power when crunching a lot of data and a fast GPU for displaying graphical information.
  • by cryptor3 (572787) on Saturday March 22, 2003 @04:30PM (#5575220) Journal
    If they're developing notebooks for the army, why not make this thing stop bullets, or shrapnel? What would be really cool would be if it could take a bullet without giving out. It would be even cooler if the bullet could go through the laptop and still run. Of course, then the thing would have to hook up to Skynet, too.
  • by mr. methane (593577) on Sunday March 23, 2003 @02:56AM (#5577381) Journal
    Ok, time for me to 'fess up.

    As a backbone router geek, I have had the liberty of working from my home for the last couple of years, usually keeping whatever hours please me, and often doing my work from my bed, while watching "Law and Order" reruns captured on Tivo. (Belated kudos to the couple of co-workers who heard the Tivo 'ding' and managed not to bust out laughing during those weekly staff calls)

    I've attended conference calls while slouched in the hot tub, completely submerged except for my head, while occasionally muttering an approving comment into my headset, usually to cover up the noise of the filtering system kicking in.

    I've done major configurations on well-known business portals while smoking a cigar and hoping the 802.11 link won't crap out before I 'wr mem'.

    But I've always wanted to do late-night maintenance work FROM my hot tub. And it's within range of my 802.11 equipment. But I just don't have the guts to bring my beloved Dell laptop that close to water.

    But now this piece of equipment may allow me to achieve my goal: Getting paid for being as close to a chronic vegetative state as possible.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears

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