Hardcore rugged notebooks are hands down my favorite notebooks to test, if only because my butter fingers will not damage the review item when I trip down a flight of stairs. The newest rugged notebook in for review is the GETAC M230, which offers a punch proof screen, rubberized carrying handle, and passively cooled dual core performance in a thick magnesium shell of awesomeness. In terms of rugged notebooks, this model is probably the closest we will ever come to playing with military-grade equipment.
The GETAC M230 has the following configuration:
- Windows XP Professional
- Intel Core Duo Processor L2400 (1.6GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 667MHz FSB)
- 15.0″ XGA Touchscreen (1024×768, Matte finish)
- 2GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm)
- Intel GMA950 Integrated Graphics
- Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG Network Connection
- Optional Connections:
- Optional GPS (with internal antenna)
- Optional Bluetooth(v2.0 class 2)
- Optional EV-DO/GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA
- 80GB Toshiba 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive
- 8X DVD+/-RW with Double Layer Support
- External Connections: AC Input, 2 USB, Firewire 800, Serial, Docking Connection, 2 PC-Card, VGA, LAN, Modem, Parallel, IR, and Headphone/Mic
- 7800mAh Battery
- Dimensions: 13.25″ (w) x 11.3″ (L) x 1.8″
- Weight: 9lbs 15.8oz
- 90W AC adapter
- Price as configured: $4,399
Build and Design
Few notebooks hit the realm of perfect ruggedness, and the GETAC hits the spot perfectly in all areas. The design is excellent, everything from the port layout, to the onboard metal carrying handle. Sturdy rubber bumpers are screwed into all corners of the notebook to absorb impact forces when the notebook is dropped, tying into the immensely strong chassis to spread out the impact. No part on this notebook is left unprotected, in both open and closed positions. This includes the hinges, keyboard and buttons, external ports, and device bays, which all have a thick rubber cover, or secure metal hatch.
The device bays, which include the battery, optical drive, and hard drive all use a pinch release metal hatch. The release mechanism is spring loaded, and with your fingertips you pinch the clips together to open the panel.
Build quality is top notch, well above any other notebook I have tested to date. Squeaks and creaks are left to the plastic notebooks, where this notebook laughs at trucks running over it to induce screen flex. The frame is thick magnesium alloy and nothing short of jumping on it will make it bend. I am not joking when I say that pressing firmly on any section of the frame will not make it bend or flex. I might have been able to tweak it a little bit by putting a chair leg on the middle of the screen cover, but that is it.
The GETAC M230 is rated for the following test specifications:
According to IEC 68-2-1,2,14 / MIL-STD-810F, Method 501.4, 502.4
- Operating: 0˚C (32˚F) to 55˚C (131˚F)
-20˚C (4˚F) to 55˚C (low temperature option)
- Non-operating: -40˚C (-40˚F) to 70˚C (158˚F)
According to IEC 68-2-30 / MIL-STD-810F, Method 507
- 45% to 95% RH, non-condensing
According to IEC 68-2-13/ MIL-STD-810F, Method 500.4
- Operating: 15,000ft
- Non-operating: 40,000ft
- Altitude change rate: 2,000ft/min
According to IEC 68-2-27/ MIL-STD-810F, Method 516.5
According to IEC 68-2-32 / MIL-STD-810F, Method 516.5
According to IEC 68-2-6 / MIL-STD-810F, Method 514.5
ESD According toIEC1000-4-2
According to IEC 529, NEMA, MIL-STD-810F, Method 506.4, 510.4
IP 54 compliance
Regulation FCC, UL, CUL, TUV, CE, CB, CCC, PSE, WHQL, BSMI, e-Mark
Others MIL-STD 461E (option)
The GETAC M230 is equipped with a shock-protected XGA resolution touch screen. This touch screen has a protective Plexiglas cover that allows it to take a fist at high velocity, or a large ball bearing dropped from about table height without damaging the screen. The surprising part is when punching it, the screen shows no color distortion or ripples. Flexing the screen frame (or should I say not flexing it) is almost impossible with your hands, and the rear cover will hold up to almost anything without flexing inward. A few of us in the office have taken turns jumping and standing on it without ill-effects, and we were also shown video of the notebook being run over by trucks without damage.
The display itself is average compared to most consumer notebooks, but has the added benefit of the passive touch screen. Color seems slightly washed out, but that is usually a side effect of most touch screen surfaces. Viewing angles are shallow, with colors quickly inverting or washing out with a small change in vertical angle adjustment. Horizontal range is better, with the colors staying intact … although it does dim down a bit. Screen brightness is great, easily readable in a bright office setting. If you opt for the standard screen option, the brightness is much greater and listed as “sunlight readable.”
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the GETAC M230 is a silicone membrane style, which is not the most comfortable to type on. Typing is very labored, and requires more effort than you would find on a normal notebook, but most keyboards are not designed to be dust, rock, and water proof. The keys are sized and spaced enough that typing (pecking) with gloves on would be possible with a bit of practice.
This keyboard is also backlit which enhances visibility when working at night or dark conditions. The backlight color is a mild red, which doesn’t distract much from the screen, and won’t attract unneeded attention around others.
The touchpad is of average size, and operates and feels just one found on a normal notebook. Finger sensitivity is great, requiring little pressure move the cursor. The touchpad buttons are the same type of silicone rubber keys found on the keyboard, and require more pressure to press down than normal plastic buttons. Button feedback is shallow, giving the user a dampened click when pressed.
Performance and Benchmarks
The performance of the GETAC M230 was excellent compared to other rugged notebooks, mostly attributed to the dual core processor, over a single core ultra low voltage model. This gave it a good bump in speed without adding much in the way of heat. Start times were excellent, and programs loaded with no noticeable lag. Even though gaming is out of the question (the 3DMark06 score was only 164), this notebook would have no problem playing around in Photoshop if needed.
PCMark05 measures the systems performance as a whole (higher scores indicate better performance).
NotebookPCMark05 ScoreGETAC M250 (Intel Core Duo L2400 1.6GHz, Intel GMA900)2,775 PCMarksDRS ARMOR C12 (Intel Core Solo 1.2GHz ULV, Intel 945GMS chipset)1,606 PCMarksMotion Computing F5 (Intel Core Solo 1.2GHz, Intel 945GMS chipset)1,557 PCMarksFujitsu LifeBook P1620 (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.2GHz ULV, Intel 945GMS chipset)2,113 PCMarksAsus R1E (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz, GMA 965 chipset)4,679 PCMarksGateway C-140x (Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz, ATI X2300 HD graphics)4,342 PCMarksFujitsu LifeBook T4220 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics)4,171 PCMarksHPtx2000 (AMD Turion 64 X2 2.3GHz, Nvidia Go 6150 graphics)3,738 PCMarksLenovo ThinkPad X61(Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz, GMA X3100 graphics)3,473 PCMarksToshiba Portege M700 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, GMA 965 chipset)3,399 PCMarksHP tx1000 (AMD Turion X2 2.0GHz, Nvidia Go 6150)3,052 PCMarksLenovo ThinkPad X60t (1.66GHz LV Core Duo)2,860 PCMarksAsus R1F (1.66GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950 graphics)2,724 PCMarksHP Compaq 2710p (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics)2,453 PCMarksFujitsu LifeBook T (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics)2,334 PCMarksGateway E-155C (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.06GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics)2,205 PCMarksToshiba R400 (Intel Core Duo ULV 1.2GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics)2,187 PCMarks
wPrime comparison results (lower score means better performance):
Notebook / CPUwPrime 32M timeGETAC M250 (Intel Core Duo L2400 @ 1.6GHz)52.906 seconds DRS ARMOR C12 (Intel Core Solo ULV @ 1.2GHz)150 secondsAsus U2E (Intel Core 2 Duo U7500 @ 1.06GHz)86 secondsLenovo ThinkPad X300(Intel Core 2 Duo L7100 @ 1.20GHz)98 secondsApple MacBookAir (Intel Core 2 Duo P7500 @ 1.6GHz)68 secondsAsus Eee PC701 4G (Intel Celeron M ULV @ 900MHz)200 secondsSony VAIO TZ (Intel Core 2 Duo U7600 @ 1.20GHz)76 seconds
Ports and Features
Port selection on the GETAC M230 was excellent, and even included a surprise that we don’t usually expect from most notebooks, let alone a rugged one. The surprise was a 1394b connector (Firewire 800) which we have not seen on any notebook except the MacBook Pro.
Front: Indicator Lights, Carrying Handle, Kensington Lock Slot
Rear: IR, AC Power, Serial, Modem, LAN, VGA, Parallel, Headphone/Mic
Left: Optical Bay, Hard Drive Bay
Right: Battery Bay, 2 PC-Card Bay, 2 USB, Firewire
Heat and Noise
Heat and noise are practically nonexistent, with the majority of the notebook acting as a massive heat sink for the passive cooling system. During the middle of our battery test where the notebook had been on continuously for three hours, most of the notebook was only 10 degrees above room temperature. No hotspots were found on the notebook, and even during benchmarks you never had to listen to a fan in the background.
Battery life with the standard battery was outstanding, coming in at 5 hours and 30 minutes with the brightness down to 75%, or 5 hours with the backlight on max. Users can also configure a optical bay battery with this notebook for even greater battery performance, although we did not have that to test.
The GETAC M230 is an excellent rugged notebook, and hands down the best built notebook I have tested to date. Every part of this notebook from carrying handle to hinge covers has been designed to offer the perfect match of portability and ruggedness against any situation a user could get into. On top of its stellar build quality, the performance and battery life were excellent as well. If I had the cash required to plunk down on this notebook I would buy it in a heartbeat.
- Could stop a bullet (or grenade shrapnel) if needed
- Punch-proof touch screen
- Perfectly silent with minimal heat output.
- Silicone keyboard not the most friendly for typing
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