by Jerry Jackson
When it comes to making rugged notebooks and tablets, Getac is one of the most respected names in the business. As impressive as the fully rugged Getac V100 tablet might be at first glance, there's one thing that makes this tablet really special ... a screen rated at 1,200 nits brightness! By comparison, a good notebook screen might only be rated as a 250 nit screen. We're talking about a rugged tablet that can not only be used in the middle of the desert, but that has a screen you can still read when the desert sun is beating down from above. Read on to see how well the Getac V100 holds up against our testing.
Getac V100 Rugged Tablet Specifications:
Build and Design
The design of the Getac V100, like virtually all fully rugged notebooks is extremely boxy. There's nothing "consumer friendly" about this design. The V100 means business, and the magnesium alloy construction and rubber bumpers covering the edges are enough to strike fear in the hearts (or processors) of average notebooks. The V100 is almost twice as thick as a standard 12” notebook or tablet and a price tag to match it's rugged build.
At first glance it might look like the V100 is missing all its ports, but when you take a closer look you see that every external port has its own waterproof cap or door. This keeps dirt and moisture out when not in use, and also protects the fragile connectors in the event something might hit that area of the notebook when the tablet is dropped. The only potential negative to having all the ports covered in this way is that you have to move the port covers out of the way every time you need to plug something into the tablet.
The bottom of the V100--where you might expect to see easily replaceable components like a battery-you find access panels held in place with large screws and more weather-sealed doors. The docking station connector is hidden behind a sliding door and even the battery and hard drive are protected by rugged metal doors with hinges on the side of the tablet.
When we describe the Getac V100 as "fully rugged" we don't expect average consumers to understand that this convertible notebook is built with MIL-STD 810F and IP54 compliance. What should be easy to grasp is the fact that the V100 features a full magnesium alloy chassis, sealed ports and connectors, a shock-protected removable hard drive, a is overall vibration and drop-shock resistant.
The durability of the screen on the V100 is quite impressive. Not only are the back of the screen and screen bezel impact resistant, but the screen itself can withstand a direct impact from a fist (or the edge of a table as you drop the tablet) without any damage.
One minor problem with the design of the V100 is the integrated carrying handle. The handle seems to be more of a last-minute addition to the V100 rather than a fully integrated handle like what we see on the Getac B300 rugged notebook. The loose nylon strap and metal retention clips just hang off the front edge of the notebook. To make matters worse the metal clips started to wear some of the matte black paint off of the tablet next to where the clips connected to the chassis. Despite the fact that a fully rugged notebook needs to have a handle we would rather have a sturdy handle built into the design of the tablet (at the expense of size and weight).
The screen on our review unit of the Getac V100 Rugged Convertible Notebook is a 10.4” touchscreen with 1024 x 768 resolution that is bright enough to be easily read outside under bright sunlight. Getac also offers the V100 with a 12.4" widescreen display. Colors are bright, but have a washed out look due to the combination of the touchscreen surface and an amazingly strong backlight. As listed in the specs, the V100 includes a screen with a backlight rated at 1,200 nits brightness. To put that in perspective, many of the giant displays in New York's Time Square are rated at 1,500 nits. Unfortunately, one negative side effect of having the 1,200 nit screen option is that the minimum screen brightness is still quite high. Even if you turn the screen brightness down to the lowest setting it is still brighter than many standard notebook screens at nearly maximum brightness.
Being a convertible notebook, you can rotate the screen around to work in a slate or tablet manner. The touchscreen worked quite well using a pen or fingertip. In slate mode the user still has access to the buttons on the front edge of the V100. Unfortunately, we discovered one minor frustration with the screen rotate function on the V100: you cannot rotate the screen 360 degrees. You can have text and images showing on the screen in the standard notebook orientation, you can flip the screen 180 upside down, or you can rotate the screen as shown in the image below, but you cannot rotate it in the opposite direction as seen below.
The screen rotation limit is not a horrible problem, and could be fixed easily with a software update, but it is frustrating. To operate the touchscreen, Getac offers a pen as an optional accessory. Unfortunately, the pen feels like an accessory that wasn't supposed to come with this tablet. The pen itself is not particularly rugged, and the V100 lacks any pen silo or retention clip to hold the pen when not in use. You can use a small lanyard to connect the pen to the edge of the screen, but then it just hangs off the edge of the tablet when not in use. The pen’s tip is pretty smooth, having a fluid feel when drawn on the screen.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the V100 is nice and rugged like the rest of this tablet, and is exceptionally easy to type on despite the small size. The standard size black keys have large white letters for improved visibility and each key provides excellent tactile feedback. Although our review unit came with a standard keyboard customers with special environmental needs can order a waterproof "membrane" keyboard similar to what we reviewed on the Getac M230.
Key spacing and key size are about average for a 12” notebook, being slightly cramped if you're used to a desktop keyboard, but this keyboard is still far more usable that what we see on most laptops with 10-inch screens.
The Synaptics touchpad feels like any other touchpad, although this one is sealed against outside elements. The size is pretty standard, if not slightly larger than others found on notebooks of this size. Sensitivity and control are both excellent. The touchpad buttons are covered in a rubber shell, and have very shallow feedback with noisy "clicks" when pressed. The pressure required to activate the keys is a greater than average, but still acceptable.
Ports and Features
Overall the port layout for the V100 is as rugged and versatile as the rest of the tablet. As mentioned before, all ports feature environmental seals and there are a number of port options that customers can choose to customize (such as serial ports and Smart Card readers). It seems like an odd omission that Getac didn't include a fingerprint reader considering the target audience for this tablet, but overall there's little to complain about here.
Front: Indicator lights, front controls, massive metal notebook latch and strap.
Rear: Audio out and microphone in, Kensington lock slot, VGA and serial connectors. The VGA port can optionally be replaced by a second RS232 connector.
Performance and Benchmarks
The V100 has an Intel U7600 Core 2 Duo Merom processor, running at 1.2GHz. This might sound unusually slow compared to the latest notebooks and tablets on the market, but the V100 uses a sealed chassis that is passively cooled. Any excess heat is dissipated through the metal chassis and not through a vent.
The V100 might not shatter any benchmark records, but it's still more than powerful enough to handle regular work in Microsoft Office, do some light Photoshop editing, or browse the web and respond to emails in the middle of a combat zone. Bottom line, you don't buy a V100 for the fastest performance ... you buy it because it can keep working in just about any environment.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
|Getac V100 (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, Intel 945 graphics)||73.359 seconds
|HP tx2500 (AMD Turion X2 Ultra 2.4GHz, ATI HD 3200 graphics)||36.275 seconds
|Fujitsu LifeBook T5010 (2.26GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel 4500 MHD graphics)||67.281 seconds
|Lenovo ThinkPad X200 (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz, GMA X4500 graphics)||74.210 seconds|
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores indicate better performance):
|Getac V100 (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, Intel 945GMS graphics)||2,242 PCMarks|
|DRS ARMOR C12 (Intel Core Solo 1.2GHz ULV, Intel 945GMS chipset)||1,606 PCMarks|
|HP tx2500 (AMD Turion X2 Ultra 2.4GHz, ATI HD 3200 graphics)||3, 873 PCMarks|
|Asus R1E (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz, GMA 965 chipset)||4,679 PCMarks|
|HP Compaq 2710p (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics)||2,453 PCMarks|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz, GMA X3100 graphics)||3,473 PCMarks|
We also decided to benchmark the video and graphics performance of the V100 with 3DMark06 just for the sake of running a complete suite of tests. The V100 produced a 3DMark06 score of only 107 ... an extremely low score, but that is to be expected from all tablets in this class.
Wireless performance on this rugged notebook was average, losing a connection to wireless access points at roughly the same distance as other notebooks. That said, it's hard to complain considering the range of connectivity options that the V100 offers; everything from a modem to GPS and EV-DO/GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/WCDMA/HSDPA broadband.
Heat and Noise
Since the V100 is a passive cooled notebook the only noise you can hear is the faint seeking of the hard drive inside or the system chimes coming from the built-in speaker.
Heat is minimal at worst, even without active cooling. Like most passively cooled rugged notebooks, the entire chassis structure acts as a gigantic heatsink, evenly spreading the heat around inside. Even after stressful benchmarks the tablet's external temperatures stayed between 87 and 93 degrees Fahrenheit.
Battery performance was less than impressive, but it's safe to say that the lower-than-expected battery life is due to the insanely bright display. Again, having a screen rated at 1,200 nits is like looking into a spotlight ... a spotlight powered by the tablet's battery. With the screen set to the minimum brightness setting (still brighter than a 250-nit screen at maximum brightness) the V100 ran for just a little more than 4 hours. When you cranked the screen up to maximum for use outside, battery life was less than 2 hours with the 7800mAh battery in our review unit. In the interest of full disclosure, it's worth mentioning that we were never able to get the battery in our review unit to register a full charge (the maximum charge ended up being somewhere between 90 percent and 96 percent), so actual user results may vary. Still, spare batteries are probably a good idea for those who need longer battery life.
As a ruggedized convertible notebook, the Getac V100 is an exceptionally strong choice. Granted, you can find tablets with better processor and graphics performance for less money, but none of those cheaper tablets can withstand the daily abuse the the V100 will take in stride. Toss this tablet at a brick wall and the only thing that might be damaged is the brick wall.
At the end of the day, if you need a rugged tablet with a screen that's so bright you can see it from outer space then the Getac V100 is probably the perfect choice for you. The pen, screen rotation, and handle present some minor headaches, but this is still a very impressive tablet if you've got that budget to support a fully rugged convertible notebook.
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