Sometime in late 2011, General Dynamics Itronix quietly added the GD4000 to its expanding lineup of ruggedized tablets and notebooks. It's described as a "Go-Anywhere Semi-Rugged Notebook" on the GD-Itronix website, and it'll fill the role of a modern, durable laptop with all the Itronix rugged computing DNA, but not taking it to the fully-rugged extreme of, say, the GD8200 or the vehicle-rugged GD6000. Instead, you get a General Dynamics notebook computer that's undergone much of the same testing, but that's built for everyday use, and is available at a much lower price.
So let's take a look at the GD4000. It's about as big and heavy as a 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro, which means sizable but still compact. Weight starts at about six pounds. The display measures 14 inches diagonally and has 1366 x 768 pixel resolution. A resistive touch screen is optional. No active digitizer is available, but you wouldn't expect that in a large notebook, and the GD400's touchpad does support multi-touch.
Under the hood, or in this case inside the magnesium alloy frame, the GD4000 packs quite the punch. Default motivation is via a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2520 processor, a standard voltage (35 watt) second generation Core processor design that can scale up to 3.2GHz via Intel Turbo Boost. The second gen Core chips also benefit from faster integrated graphics, more efficient 32 instead of 45 nanometer design, and for US$99 extra you can upgrade to nVidia NVS 4200M discrete graphics. What all this means is that the GD4000 is, for now, in all likelihood the fastest machine in the entire GD-Itronix lineup. And that's even before opting for one of the also available dual or quad core i7 processors.
The news is equally impressive in the storage department. Memory is of the speedy 1333MHz DDR3 variety, hard disks come with capacities of up to 500GB, or you can opt for a speedy solid state drive. If that's not enough, the GD4000's modular bay can accommodate a secondary hard drive instead of a DVD reader/writer.
Like most notebooks in its class, the GD4000 offers plenty of onboard connectivity. There are four USB 2.0 ports, one doubling as an eSATA port of external storage connection. For video there are both VGA and HDMI ports, for wired communication a gigabit RJ45 Ethernet jack and even optional RJ11 for those who may still need a modem connection. If USB 3.0 is needed, that is available too via a two-port module that fits into the modular media bay.
For expansion there is an ExpressCard/54 slot and also an SD card reader (presumably at least SDHC). Inside the unit, additional expansion is possible via mini-PCIe.
For wireless, customers can specify a variety of optional modules, including Bluetooth 3.0, dual band 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi with or without WiMAX, and either 4G HSPA+ or LTE WWAN with A-GPS.
All of this is powered by either a 6-cell 60 watt-hour battery or a more powerful 6-cell 97 watt-hour battery said to be good for up to 12.5 hours of operation. If that is still not good enough, customers can opt for an additional 30 watt-hour secondary media bay battery.
For security, there's TPM (Trusted Platform Module) v2.1, a fingerprint reader, a cable lock slot, a contact or contactless Smart Card reader and, presumably, the usual levels of password protection.
The GD4000 is classified as semi-rugged. There's no clear definition for that. Generally it means "tougher and more durable than your standard consumer notebook." GD-Itronix says the GD4000 with its magnesium alloy chassis can handle a 2-1/2 foot drop, it's pretty much dust-proof, its keyboard is spill-resistant, its ports protected by rubber plugs, and the device has been tested according to MIL-STD-810G procedures (but the specs don't say to what level).
What does it all cost? The starting list price is about US$2,000. That's a lot by consumer notebook standards, but a bargain by vertical market equipment standards. But the two grand is just the starting point, and a nicely equipped machine is probably more in the US$3,000 range. For that you get an elegant and very powerful notebook computer with a 3-year warranty, and it carries the General Dynamics name. Given that many rugged systems customers like to stay with the same vendor, this makes the GD4000 a very attractive proposition for GD-Itronix shops. And from the looks and specs of it, its appeal may go considerably beyond that.
General Dynamics Itronix
1000 Sawgrass Corporate Parkway, Suite 300
Sunrise, FL 33323
Tel: +1-800-441-1309 or +1-954-846-3400