Rugged laptops have always been designed with extreme conditions in mind. The genesis for ruggedized computers began in 1982 in the US with the space program and the Grid Compass Computer that eventually made its way into the space shuttle. However, the evolution of rugged tablets has been a fairly slow one compared to that of other technologies and form factors. Size, weight, durability, connectivity, performance, and battery life have been the primary limitations preventing widespread commercial use. Mobile utility workers, for example, need to cover some very remote and some very inhospitable locations. The good news is that in just the past few years, innovation around rugged devices has greatly accelerated and the market for these powerful, versatile machines is finally starting to achieve its potential.
One of the latest devices in this new rugged computing era is the GammaTech Durabook R8300, a 13.3-inch notebook that is in a class by itself. Powering the R8300 is the Intel® Core™ i7-3667U Processor with 4M cache and up to 3.20 GHz. The device supports utility field operations that require a larger screen for outdoor viewing and high-performance computing. In the world of utilities, typical uses would include:
- Field service (maintenance, repair, installation)
- Meter change-out
- Trouble and outage
- Inspections and surveys
Connectivity is a primary driver behind the acceleration of mobile device innovation. Without it, laptops and tablets are limited to offline features only. Think of putting your mobile phone into airplane mode and you get the idea. The R8300 supports the mobile worker with the elegant implementation of:
- WWAN through the 7355 LTE Module from Sierra Wireless including antenna switching, and WLAN where we implemented not only 802.11 a/b/g/n but also added the ac support
- Bluetooth where the product delivers Class 1 to support long range (100 m) connections to peripherals with the Intel® Dual Band Wireless Bluetooth combo module
- GPS in a discrete module which is most often demanded by utilities
We set out to deliver a product with the highest levels of environmental immunity and the R8300 is tough as nails. It went through extensive MIL-STD 810G testing to achieve the notable IP65 certification. This standard from the Department of Defense means that the R8300 can survive extreme heat, cold, vibration and multiple drops onto hard surfaces.
Out in the field, there’s rarely a convenient power outlet when you need one. The Durabook R8300 was designed to last through a full 8-hour shift on one charge. The media bay can also accommodate a smaller secondary battery that can extend run time to 12 hours.
Mobile workers in the military, public safety, industrial, and utility sectors can now access enterprise applications in the harshest of environments. I’m really excited to see how our customers will use the capabilities and features of the Durabook R8300 that enable mobile workers to perform valuable field work in places accessible for the first time.