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Portables Hardware

Dell Rugged Laptops Not Quite Tough Enough 225

An anonymous reader writes "Trusted Reviews has put the new Dell XFR rugged laptop through the grinder and it hasn't fared as well as expected. Considering that these guys drove a car over a Panasonic Toughbook, they went pretty easy on the Dell, but it still couldn't take the punishment. It looks like Dell still has a way to go to steal the ball from Panasonic when it comes to all terrain computing."
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Dell Rugged Laptops Not Quite Tough Enough

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  • Interesting... (Score:0, Informative)

    by TrisexualPuppy ( 976893 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @11:44AM (#29964036)
    But as for ruggedness testing, do you think that they were going a little overboard? I have been using my Latitude D810 for about four years now, have dropped it multiple times at the airport, the wife stepped on it while the lid was shut, and my aging cat urinated on the keyboard. Thing is that it still works. I am impressed with Dell's quality for the higher-end models made to withstand abuse. I would have bought two or three HPs in the time that I have had my Latitude. End of story for me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @11:54AM (#29964182)

    Er, what? This Slashdot summary does not jive with the article at all. The laptop was perfectly functional after all of their tests. The only problems they had were a minor cosmetic issue of the adhesive coming off around the trackpad (which they just called "fit and finish") and that some of the doors might pop open during drops since they weren't double locked. Their conclusion was that it was indeed quite rugged.

  • by Shag ( 3737 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:07PM (#29964378)

    Did *you* RTFA? They stated quite clearly that the Dell had issues with water ingress, including water getting into a battery compartment that isn't isolated from the mainboard.

    Yes, it worked again after they let it dry out for a day... but that's bad.

    I volunteer somewhere that bought one of these Dells, and honestly I have no idea why they needed a ruggedized laptop.

  • Notsotoughbooks (Score:4, Informative)

    by juanhf ( 167330 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:08PM (#29964390)

    We used to believe that the ToughBooks were the end all be all of ruggedized computers; that is until the day someone actually managed to break one!

    If you read the warranty statement from Panasonic you will see the following under Section 3 - Limited Warranty Exclusions []

    "Failures which result from alteration, accident, misuse, introduction of liquid or other foreign matter into the unit, abuse, neglect, installation, maladjustment of consumer controls, improper maintenance or modification, use not in accordance with product use instructions"

    That means that if your coffee somehow spills on the laptop and fries the motherboard Panasonic will not repair it under warranty!

    On the other hand if you purchase a Dell or an HP ruggedized notebook with the accidental damage protection the notebook will be repaired with no questions asked.

    Considering the cost of the Panasonic ToughBooks, I would take a Dell XFR + CompleteCare any day!

    Besides, regardless of what notebook you own, if you roll over it with your vehicle (by accident) and it happens to break, would you not rather be covered?

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:15PM (#29964484)

    This isn't a uber traveler laptop. It's for people working in harsh environments. Do you work on an oil rig, war zone or the middle of the amazon? If you answer no, then you don't need a rugged laptop.

  • by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:20PM (#29964534)

    That's pretty much spot on. They need the hardware to work in temperature extremes. And even then I would assume they would by the semi-rugged model. The Panasonic Toughbook is a great machine. They still make them by hand in Kyoto. Panasonic doesn't trust the quality of factories in other parts of Asia, part of the price premium means you're getting a laptop built by a highly skilled workforce with a keen eye on tolerances.

  • by Volante3192 ( 953645 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:27PM (#29964662)

    It's no surprise that the military customers would require a lower ruggedness spec than civilian users.

    And then there's this story that utterly contradicts you: []

  • Re:Notsotoughbooks (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:28PM (#29964668)

    Panasonic, just like Dell and HP, has an accidental damage plan.

    Consider this. What's worth more the laptop or the data on the laptop? You're in a rugged location, you're off the grid and can't back up your data until you get back to civilization, which laptop would you want? I'm going to opt for the one that doesn't let moisture seep inside.

  • Re:Notsotoughbooks (Score:5, Informative)

    by darkmayo ( 251580 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:34PM (#29964768)

    You are comparing a base limited warranty with an ADP warranty, apples an oranges.

    Panasonic has ADP warranty as well which like the rest of the brands has to be purchased, I am not aware of any company that has accidental damage protection as there baseline warranty for a laptop.

  • General Dynamics (Score:2, Informative)

    by GrBear ( 63712 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:50PM (#29964982)

    I dunno man, I'd rather buy a notebook [] from a company [] that knows how to make things rugged [], verses a company that makes VCR's and questionable quality audio products.

  • by nahdude812 ( 88157 ) * on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @01:46PM (#29965766) Homepage

    You may find that with such a blemish, any AppleCare warranty support is now void.

    My brother's MBP had a video card with a known issue where some times the video card would not output any video (either to the LCD or to the display port). He had the exact model number which experiences this problem, and supposedly every MBP with that model video card is affected and eligible for free repair even out of warranty.

    He took them up on it (he was still under AppleCare, having bought the extended version), but because there was a dent in his case, they claimed the video card was damaged by the dent, and they further claimed they would not be able to repair the damage without replacing the entire chassis. I had seen the dent, it was very small; more of a scratch and a dimple - there's no way this was responsible.

    What should have been a free repair cost him $800.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @03:20PM (#29966854)

    They've typically got a metal case

    Not just generic steel or aluminum, Toughbooks have titanium cases, to keep them light, stiff, and strong. Now you can get a Toughbook with a solid state drive, and the biggest weakness to the system is eliminated. With an SSD on board, it becomes extremely difficult to damage the laptop. You have to hit something so hard you literally tear the components off the motherboard (very hard to do) or overcome the strength of the titanium (which is not thin, btw) to crush it. Even then you're more likely to damage the LCD than anything, and destroying the hard drive would be nearly impossible.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Informative)

    by iq in binary ( 305246 ) <> on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @05:43PM (#29968766) Homepage

    Not just generic steel or aluminum, Toughbooks have titanium cases, to keep them light, stiff, and strong.

    Magnesium, actually. Just as tough, half the price. Titanium would have to be machined, which would double the price of the toughbook just in machine time. Magnesium can be formed and stamped.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:4, Informative)

    by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @06:48PM (#29969906) Journal
    Magnesium's also easy to injection mold or die cast. There are some difficulties in safely melting magnesium (as this amazing picture showing a Volkswagen magnesium casting foundry burning in 2006 [] demonstrates) but it's far easier to do casting processes with magnesium, which melts at a very reasonable temperature, than it is with titanium, which destroys mold materials. Titanium also burns fiercely, and goes so far as to burn in a pure nitrogen environment, the only metal that will do so. Magnesium's also cheaper. However, it isn't anywhere nearly as tough. Titanium has yield strengths on the order of 40,000-140,000 pounds per square inch, while magnesium's more in the 20,000-50,000psi range. However, since magnesium's like 1/3 the density of titanium you can put a *lot* more magnesium into a structure for the same weight, and since stiffness rises as an exponential function of cross-section, you get hellaciously stiff, light structures that are reasonably tough.

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