New rugged notebooks get tougher: biorugged

Michael J. Bechetti

The definition of computer ruggedness has changed.

At the FOSE conference this month in Washington, vendors touted their portable computers' resistance not only to the military knowns'dust, moisture and shock'but also to sterilization by steam or bleach after use by first responders in biochemical emergencies.

The new $3,000 Toughbook CF-18, from Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. of Secaucus, N.J., is 'ruggedized enough to steam-clean,' Panasonic officials said.

Vince Menzione, public-sector vice president of Itronix Corp. of Spokane, Wash., said his company recommended putting its rugged GoBook Max systems 'into the dishwasher, with all ports open' when the FBI bought some for a team assigned to hunt weapons of mass destruction.

Psion Teklogix Ltd. of London demonstrated its new, rugged Netpad handheld immersed in a fish tank. Government mobile computing manager Dennis Castor said the Netpad's government price is not yet set, but the device can survive three-foot immersion, withstand a 1.5-meter drop and work in temperatures as low as 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

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