Letter to the editor: GoBook was unfairly downrated

GoBook was unfairly downrated in recent GCN review

In your recent review of rugged notebook computers, we are disappointed with the testing criteria and question the review's objectivity and accuracy, and the resulting categorization of our product, the Itronix GoBook.

Itronix Corp. has manufactured rugged, wireless notebook and handheld computers for 13 years. We pioneered the production of rugged computers and today our mobile-computing solutions are deployed in more mission-critical environments across North America and Europe than any other manufacturer's.

One of our biggest concerns with the article was that there was no end-user profile that would have added context to what mission-critical rugged computing is all about in the first place. Itronix products are designed from the ground up to ensure that field workers--whether this means firefighters, utility repair technicians or soldiers--can depend on their computers to function and stay connected, regardless of environmental conditions.

Nowhere in the article was the Itronix GoBook described as not being operational as a result of any drops, and this capability is key to providing support for personnel who depend on rugged computers. On the other hand, Panasonic's notebook received a better rating, even though its computer when dropped had to reboot and took "15 minutes of nursing" to bring back to an operational state.

In industry and military standards-based testing, a drop that required a reboot would typically be deemed a failure. While we agree that our display latch and handle D-ring should not have broken--both have been redesigned as of May 2002--a damaged latch and broken D-ring for the carrying handle are far from excessive damage and shouldn't be editorialized as "major exterior damage" and "supposedly rugged."

The article goes on to state that the Panasonic made a "strong comeback after failing the drop tests last year." Here's a reality check. Any unit that can't reboot after a 10-inch drop has failed the drop test. The Panasonic computer failed your GCN drop test two years in a row.

In the review, your writers focused attention on the Itronix GoBook's "disappointing" processing power. The clock speed of the 850-MHz Celeron processor is much faster that the Dolch notebook's 600-MHz processor, but this was not pointed out in the article. The GoBook is also available with an 850-MHz Intel Pentium III processor. In any case, it's a gross exaggeration to call the GoBook "old fashioned."

Itronix takes painstaking efforts to ensure that everything from case design to internal components can stand up to abuse and keep users connected and working. This is why we disclose all of our test specifications, something few of our competitors are willing to do.

We urge GCN to continue to track and test rugged and ultra-rugged computers. The solutions they offer can help companies be more productive, improve operating results and save lives. However, in the future we ask that your reviewers strive for improved testing criteria and remove the bias from their reporting. This includes accurate reporting of prices. We provided GCN with the GoBook list price. However, based on our understanding of the price quoted for the Panasonic CF-28 as configured in the review, it is incorrect. This obviously skews the "Bang For The Buck" reference your reviewers gave the CF-28.

Thomas Turner

President and chief executive officer

Itronix Corp.

Spokane, Wash.

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