General Dynamics Itronix GD6000: Portable Durability


There are many people whose work involves their vehicle as an essential tool for more than just a commute to the office. It is for these almost literal road warriors that the General Dynamics Itronix GD600 was intended.

The GD6000 is a fully rugged notebook specifically designed for the mobile workforce. No lightweight, the 6.2-pound device is extremely sturdy and has a solid feel to it. Since it is meant for use on the go, the computer is capable of almost any form of connectivity; broadband connections are possible via 802.11 a/g/n, EVDO Rev A, and HSDPA/UMTS; and peripherals can interface using Bluetooth 2.0. There is also an integrated GPS receiver to round out the list.

With a spill-resistant keyboard and shock-mounted hard drive and display, the GD6000 meets MIL-STD 810F. During testing, multiple drops from desktop height didn't faze the unit, even while powered on. The keyboard has nicely spaced, full-sized keys and is comfortable to use. Currently available with a choice of Windows XP or Vista operating systems, our evaluation unit ran XP.

Under the magnesium alloy case is an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 (2.53GHz) with 6 MB of L2 cache and 1 GB of DDR-3 RAM, which is expandable up to 4 GB. Our evaluation unit had 3 GB. Storage is by way of a 120-GB hard drive and DVD-RW optical drive. For the most extreme of conditions, an optional HDD heater is also available.

The 13.3-inch touch-screen display is driven by an Intel GM45 chipset and is bright enough to view in sunlight. Although a stylus is included with the system, reviewers found using it to be a bit awkward, mostly due (we think) to the thick plastic coating protecting the screen. Luckily, using a finger proved to be much easier, as well as more accurate.

There is a detachable, rubberized handle on one side of the notebook and a hinged, solid handle on the other. Both are comfortable and sturdy to hold. Connections on the rear of the unit include the power adapter jack, an RJ-45 Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, an RJ-11 modem port, a serial port and an external monitor port. All are tightly sealed with rubberized plugs.

Using Primate Labs' Geekbench 2 benchmarking software, the GD6000 scored a respectable 2,994, on par with other systems having similar specs. Battery life on the standard six-cell pack was a few minutes more than 2 hours on our test, which consisted of playing a Windows media file movie in repeat mode, with all power-saving features turned off. We should note that all radios (including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS) were turned on during this test, which probably resulted in a lower-than-average usage life. An optional nine-cell battery is also available.

Depending on the configuration, retail prices range from $3,500 to $4,300. Per General Dynamics Itronix, the GD6000 is being marketed at field technicians, law enforcement personnel and others whose offices are in trucks, patrol cars, utility vans or other vehicles. Overall, we found it to be a capable, sturdy notebook, ready to withstand most rugged environments.