HP's rugged notebooks can take a beating

Hewlett-Packard's first ruggedised notebook and Tablet PC are able to withstand those types of abuse by workers in demanding...

Hewlett-Packard's first ruggedised notebook and Tablet PC are able to withstand those types of abuse by workers in demanding environments and military personnel.

The HP Rugged Notebook nr3600 and the HP Rugged Tablet PC tr3000 were developed in partnership with Itronix, which has manufactured these types of notebooks for some time under the GoBook II brand.

Mobile workers such as appliance repairmen, police officers and utility workers need computing power as much as any business traveller or salesperson. But the demands of their environments require a notebook that can stand up to extreme weather conditions and frequent movements.

Both notebook and Tablet PC users can operate up to three integrated wireless radios simultaneously, including Bluetooth, 802.11 wireless Lan technology, and cellular technologies such as GPRS and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access).

Customers can also install other types of radio technology with replaceable radio modules, said Ben Thacker, a business development manager with HP.

The notebooks are designed for three to eight-year lifecycles, and customers like the flexibility to keep up with changing wireless standards, he added.

The notebook uses a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor from Intel.

Faster processors are available, but because the nr3600 is sealed to prevent rain from leaking into the unit, it needs to operate without a fan directly over the processor, Thacker said.

If HP had used a chip that ran any faster, it would be extremely difficult to remove the heat from the processor using the heat exchanger built into the notebook.

Both the notebook and the Tablet PC were designed to exceed US military specifications for rugged products. This involved dropping the notebook 26 times from a height of 3ft onto a surface of plywood laid over concrete, and verifying the unit will operate in temperatures ranging from -23C to 60C. Other tests included water resistance, vibration endurance and dust protection.

The nr3600 notebook has a list price of $4,099, and comes with the 1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor, 256Mbytes of PC2100 (266MHz) DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic Ram), a 40Gbyte ruggedised hard drive, a 12.1in touchscreen display, and Microsoft's Windows XP Professional operating system. It weighs 7.9lbs.

HP will sell the tr3000 Tablet PC for a list price of $3,449. It comes with a 933MHz ultra-low voltage Mobile Pentium III processor from Intel, 256Mbytes of low voltage SDRAM, a 40Gbyte hard drive, an 8.4in touchscreen display, and Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system. It weighs 3.7lbs.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

Read more on Mobile hardware