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Competent, semi-rugged notebook at a low price
(by Kirk Linsky)

Update December 15, 2012: GammaTech announced the R13C, a very significantly upgraded version of the R13S. The new model is much faster with an Intel Core i7-620LM processor, can have up to 8GB of fast DDR3 RAM, much larger disks, and ingress protection goes from IP54 to IP65. The display now supports multi-touch, and it has an extremely bright 1,000 nits backlight.

The Twinhead/GammaTech DURABOOK R13S is a rugged convertible notebook computer This type of design has a display that has a central rotating hinge that lets you use the computer as a standard notebook and also as a tablet. Acer initiated the design back in 2001 with one of the original Tablet PCs. The first rugged implementation came from Panasonic in 2003 or so, and several other rugged manufacturers have joined the market with similar designs since then.

What Twinhead/GammaTech bring to the table with the DURABOOK R13S is an implementation of this rugged convertible notebook form factor with a larger display than any of the competition. It is therefore a good solution for tasks that require notebook and tablet functionality, Core 2 Duo performance, long battery life and more screen real estate than is commonly available in rugged tablets.

As is almost always the case with Twinhead/Gammatech products, the R13S combines almost state-of-the-art technology with common sense rugged design features and makes it available at a significantly lower price than their more established rugged computing products competition. That's done by using tried-and-true components instead of bleeding-edge circuitry. The Intel Core 2 Duo U7500 used in the R13S has been around for a while, but it is both energy-efficient and quick enough for almost all tasks, and the integrated Mobile Intel 965GM graphics are a good match for this class of computer. For storage, there are a variety of shock-mounted 2.5-inch 5400rpm SATA hard drives with capacities up to 250GB. A Solid State Disk is optional.

The sunlight-readable display is a 13.3-inch wide-format TFT that comes standard with WXGA resolution (1280 x 800 pixel). The larger display will be appreciated in many applications in the field. One drawback is that the R13S is only available with a touch screen and not an active digitizer or dual-input.

Connectivity is adequate. There are three USB 2.0 ports, VGA, and a 9-pin serial legacy port. There is also a PC Card Type II slot, an SD card reader, and a SIM card slot for optional WWAN (GSM/GPRS/HSDPA/WCDMA). The R13S also has gigabit Ethernet, an RJ11 modem port, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth Class 2 version 2.1 with EDR. GPS is optional.

The D14RM uses a magnesium ally case that's 20 times stronger than the commonly used ABS plastic. A spill-resistant keyboard and additional sealing protect against common accidents. The machine is drop-resistant and able to survive multiple drops from three feet. Generous anti-shock mounting protects the LCD and hard disk. Ports are protected and the machine carries an IP54 ingress protection rating.

Measuring 13.5 x 9.7 x 2.3 inches and weighing about nine pounds with the standard battery, the Durabook R13S is a rugged machine for all sorts of field personnel who need a full-function laptop that can take a beating, and that can also be used as a tablet computer if the need arises.

The press release did not include pricing, but Twinhead/GammaTech's lineup usually undercuts the competition in price, so the new machine is likely economy-priced as well.

Added/changed Added 11/2009
Processor Intel Core 2 Duo U7500
CPU Speed 1.06MHz
CPU Thermal Design Power 10 watts
OS XP Tablet PC Edition, Vista, Windows 7
Chip set INTEL ICH-8M + 965GM
Standard/Max RAM 1GB/4GB DDR2 in two SO-DIMM slots
Disk/drive Shock-mounted 80 to 250GB 5400RPM SATA HD with heaterr and optional freefall sensor, or optional SSD
Media Bay Super-Multi optical drive (DVD burner)
Card slots 1 PC Card Type II, Smart Card reader (optional), 1 SD Card, 1 SIM
Display type TFT LCD
Display size/res 13.3"/1280 x 800 WXGA, sunlight-viewable
Digitizer/pens touch screen
Keyboard/scale 86 keys, LED backlight
Housing Magnesium alloy case
Operating Temp 32-122F
Sealing IP54
Humidity MIL STD 810F 507.4 Procedures I
Altitude MIL STD 810F 500.4 Procedures I
Drop MIL STD 810F 516.5,Procedure VI, 26 times 3-feet
Shock Random Vibration Test (Operating) : ASTM 4169-99, Truck Assurance Level II, Schedule E Random Vibration (Not-Operating) : MIL STD 810F, Method 514.5, Procedure 1, Category 24, Fig.514.5C-17 Sine vibation(Not-Operating): MIL STD 810F, Method 514.5, Procedure 1, Category 24, Fig.514.5C-18
Size (WxHxD) 13.5 x 10.0 x 2.84
Weight 9.0 pounds
Power 7,800 mAH Li-Ion ("6+ hrs.")
Interface 3 USB 2.0, gigabit RJ45, VGA, RJ11, audio in/out, dock, RS232
Wireless Intel WiFi Link 4965 802.11a/g/n, Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR Class 1, optional WWAN (HSDPA/GPRS/GSM/WCDMA), optional GPS
List price Seen starting at US$3,000
Contact www.gammatechusa.com
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