General Dynamics Itronix GD8000 Is One Battle-Ready Notebook

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


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The General Dynamics Itronix GD8000 Notebook PC brings military technology from the battlefield to the boardroom in one tough tank of a notebook. Even Panasonic’s ToughBooks can’t take the punishment that the Itronix can absorb.

In the realm of tough and sturdy notebooks, champions are far and few between. Sure, there’s Panasonic’s ToughBooks, Gammatech’s Durabooks, and even Dell has a rugged notebook. They’re all fine machines, but no one is about to dunk a ToughBook in 30 gallons of water or throw one on concrete over and over. That is where General Dynamics comes in.

The same folks that conceived and built the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 Falcon fighter jet and the Marine Corps’ Stryker Combat Vehicle are behind the Itronix GD8000 notebook, a military-standard notebook computer. You don’t have to be a soldier to appreciate what the GD8000 has to offer. While the unit may be at home on the battlefield, it can be even more useful at a construction site, hospital or police car.
The $3,800 Itronix GD8000 is built to take a beating and is loaded with features, including:

  • Magnesium chassis with impact-absorbing polycarbonate casing
  • 13.3-inch DynaVue touch-screen display for outdoor/direct sunlight viewing
  • Ergonomic design, full-size keyboard
  • Weighs 7.9 pounds fully equipped
  • Operating temperature from -22F to 140F
  • Up to 10-hour battery life
  • Integrated GPS and wireless connectivity with Wi-Fi, optional high-powered WLAN and Bluetooth
  • Fingerprint reader, smartcard port
  • Trusted Platform Module 1.2 and optional embedded Computrace software
  • EnergyStar and EPEAT certified

Sizewise, the Itronix GD8000 is a little bit bigger than a traditional notebook. At roughly 10 inches by 12 inches by 2 inches, the Itronix GD8000 Notebook is a little heavy on the arm and too big to hide in a briefcase. But who needs a case with the GD8000? The unit sports an integrated carry handle and closes up tight, eliminating the need for a separate travel case—except of course for the power supply. Users will need to put the power brick somewhere and regrettably, that power brick is full-size. An integrated power supply would prove to be a nice option, allowing users to just carry the PC and a power cord.

The Itronix GD8000 proves to be a workhorse that can perform under most any conditions. Designed to meet the MIL-STD 810F rating, the notebook has to survive some challenging conditions, such as being doused by 30 gallons of water and dropped multiple times from 42 inches onto solid ground.

Channel Insider tested the Itronix GD8000 with an Intel Core 2 Duo L9400 (1.8GHz), 3GB Ram, 120GB hard disk and a DVD-RW optical drive. Windows XP Professional SP3 came pre-installed. Normally, the Itronix GD8000 arrives with Windows Vista, with an XP downgrade available.

We tested the system with PerformanceTest 7.0 from Passmark software and scored a rating of 452.1—not a spectacular score, but acceptable for a notebook hampered by onboard graphics. Usable battery life was about five hours in a single battery configuration. After basic testing, we derived some perverse pleasure from throwing the unit down some stairs, onto the ground and even spraying it with a hose. Despite our best abuse, the Itronix GD8000 kept working.

The Itronix GD8000’s design ensures survivability. All ports are covered with watertight doors, the lid securely latches closed and the unit is clad in polycarbonate. Users will appreciate the full-size splash-proof keyboard and the integrated touch-screen. A removable stylus is stored in the palm-rest area of the notebook for use with the touch-screen. The touch-screen proves to be easy to use and offers decent sensitivity, if General Dynamics could convert the screen hinge to a twist and swivel joint, the unit would become a decent heavy-duty tablet. The 13.3-inch display is exceptionally bright and can be used in full sunlight. A nice touch would be to add a backlight to the keyboard, allowing the system to be easily used in low-light conditions.

The Itronix GD8000 is loaded with wireless connectivity options; users will find Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and wireless broadband available. Users can score additional battery life by swapping out the optical drive with a secondary battery, which purportedly boosts battery life to 10 hours—more than enough time for the typical work shift.

With government use in mind, General Dynamics made sure security was a primary feature. The Itronix GD8000 sports a fingerprint reader for access security and offers the Infineon Security Platform Solution, which incorporates encryption and other technologies to protect files stored on the system.

The Itronix GD8000 is far from cheap, but it does come down to "you get what you pay for." The unit is tough, speedy and customizable, making it a good fit for government markets as well as the extremely clumsy.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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