- Swivel screen function seamless and well-built
- Whisper quiet
- Excellent peformance for a rugged tablet
- Easily removable battery and hard drive
- Note taking less than ideal
- Bright screen kills battery too quickly
- Cumbersome carrying handle
- Gets a bit toasty
- Mono speaker
The V100's strongest point is its ability to take a licking and keep on… well, computing.
As soon as Merriam-Webster gets around to adding “rugged tablet” to the dictionary, they really ought to include a photo of the Getac V100 above the definition, as this device certainly looks the part. Getac designed the V100 with in-the-field engineers, in-the-line-of-duty military personnel, and all other manner of big bruiser outdoor professional types in mind, and they’ve been cranking out rugged notebooks and tablets since the 90s. So does the Getac V100 live up to its mission?
- Genuine Windows 7
- Intel CoreTM i7-640UM 1.2 GHz Processor
- 10.4-inch XGA (1024 x 768) TFT QuadraClear sunlight readable LED
- 2 GB DDR3 800/1066 MHz expandable to 8 GB
- SATA 320 GB HDD(optional SATA 80 GB Solid State Drive)
- Integrated 225 degree reversible 2.0 MP camera
- 10/100/1000 base-T Ethernet
56K ITU V.92 modem
WLAN 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR class 2
- 11.4 x 8.74 x 1.93 inches
- 5.51 lbs
BUILD & DESIGN
In the age of the iPad and other sleek tablets, it’s easy to scoff at the V100’s unappealing boxy exterior, but in my eyes, it’s an awfully handsome device.
The V100 actually looks the part of a high tech piece of military equipment, and its 5.5 lbs. of bulk does make you wonder how effective it would be at point blank range in a dire, self-defense situation. It’s also MIL-STD-810G compliant, and that’s just a fancy technical way of saying that it’s up to specs with Department of Defense standards for the ability to withstand drops, shock, high levels of vibration, extreme weather conditions, dust, and humidity.
Its exterior case is made up of magnesium alloy, and comes complete with rubber bumpers on its edges. It practically growls “Hit me with your best shot!”, which you may or may not want to try. I did, and the V100 won. I walked away with bruised knuckles and the V100 kept chugging right along. Suffice it to say, it’s an incredibly durable machine. Even the removable hard drive is shock-mounted, and you can do things to the screen that you wouldn’t even dare consider on other laptops.
Understanding the durability ratings of rugged laptops is sort of like trying to comprehend the numbers on the sidewall of your car’s tire – each letter and number represents a specific rating that actually means something important. In the case of the V100, it’s been rated IP65 compliant. Basically, the “6” in the equation tells us the V100 is completely dust proof (no vents). The “5” indicates that the interior is completely protected against water jets. And we’re not talking a simple mist of rain here, but an actual water jet at point blank range from any angle. I wouldn’t submerge it in a swimming pool, but you also don’t have to worry about it fizzling out if you’re caught outdoors in a monsoon with it.
The V100 can also function perfectly in temperatures ranging from -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s -20 to 60 degrees Celsius everywhere else in the world), and can be kept in storage in even more extreme temperature conditions: -60 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, or -51 to 71 degrees Celsius. Functionality in humidity can range from 5 to 95 percent relative humidity.
Activpen Stylus and Inking Capabilities
The unit we reviewed features a dual-mode touchscreen that is both pressure sensitive and has a digitizer. The V100 is also available with only a resistive touchscreen or a glove-type multi-touch screen.
The action on the V100’s activpen leaves a bit to be desired, and this was one of the biggest disappointments about it. When you first take a gander at it, the expandable/collapsible stylus – which extends to about three quarters of the length of a full sized pen – looks like a mini-miracle of practical design. When collapsed, it fits neatly into a well placed 2.5″ slot on the bottom interior face of the flip-up screen.
As convenient as this is, the results I experienced when actually putting it into use for the purposes of inking were only so-so. Although there’s very little lag and it feels plenty comfortable in your grip, in order to get the activpen to respond, it’s got to be pressed firmly against the screen. Any let-up in pressure causes a disruption of the flow and therefore renders the V100 fairly ineffective as a tool for note taking. Also, there is no palm recognition – which wasn’t as big a deal as I imagined owing to the screen’s relatively small size and large borders, which my palm rested comfortably on.
The likely culprit for the inking issues is the collapsible pen, which is much smaller than the traditional Wacom or N-trig unit. It’s also possible the tough-as-nails display has something to do with the decreased sensitivity. Either way, there is a noticeable tradeoff between function and form with the V100 pen capabilities.
Display and Speakers
One of the coolest features of the V100 is its convertible swivel screen, which easily turns the laptop into a fully functioning tablet. When I say “easily,” I do mean easily. It doesn’t take a genius or even anyone with above average dexterity to accommodate the transformation. Once the screen is placed into tablet view, the same front locking mechanism that keeps the V100 tightly clamped shut can also be fully engaged – but even without the lock in place, there’s very little give on the hinges.
The brightness level of the display is rated at 1200 nits, which allows the screen to be easily viewable in direct sunlight and is about as bright as rugged tablet displays come these days. The only drawback to this is that the brighter the display setting, the lower the battery life. By some estimates, usage at full brightness can cut the amount of time you’ll get from your battery by more than half (the average expected length under light usage is approximately 7 hours).
We measured the contrast ratio at 744:1.49, 729:1.39, and 726:1.48. By way of comparison, the recently-reviewed Armor X10gx had a 705:1 ratio.
The V100 has one speaker that does its job, but in future models it would be nicer to see a version of the tablet that’s stereo enabled. Just because the unit itself is built for business doesn’t mean it can’t have a little bit of rock and roll for leisure use.
There is also a swiveled two-megapixel digi-cam mounted atop the display with approximately 180 degrees of movement.
Keyboard and Touchpad
With a full size, 83-key qwerty keyboard, the V100 proves easy to use with bare or gloved hands, lending to its adaptability to rugged outdoor environments and usability in conditions that would otherwise render a laptop as useful as a brick in your lap. The only issue I experienced was that the ENTER key is positioned slightly higher on the keyboard face than I’m used to on a standard keyboard, providing a bit of a learning curve that I was able to overcome with little difficulty and only a few misplaced keystrokes. The mouse touchpad is equally responsive to bare or thickly gloved fingertips and supports two-fingered control, as well as scrolling.
An examination of the sides and rear of the V100 reveals all of the ports necessary for standard operation: USB, VGA, PCMCIA slots, Ethernet, modem (for the built-in 56k), power supply, and audio in/out. In addition to this, both the battery and the hard drive on the V100 are removable through easily accessible side slots. All ports are protected by weatherproof plug-like doors that are as easy to pop open as they are to snap firmly back into place. The doors which facilitate the removal of the battery and hard drive require a bit more work to open, but are far from difficult.
The V100 comes with a couple of easy-to-attach accessories for added mobility, but only one of them really manages to impress as anything beyond a mere afterthought.
- Carrying Handle: A rugged tablet without a comfortable and convenient method of toting it around might as well be just another laptop, yet Getac’s attempt at a handle is one of the weakest points of the V100’s overall design. Attached by two hooks on its front edge, the handle amounts to little more than a clip-on hand strap. It’s not flimsy by any means, but a little bit more unwieldy than the V100 seems to deserve.
- Bottom Hand Strap: The hand strap that affixes to the bottom of the V100 is another story entirely. It’s held in place by hooking each of its 4 points to small clips on the underside of the tablet. Once it’s in place, you can slide your hand into its glove-like grip and hold the unit like you’d palm a football. The fit is snug and secure and a far preferable carrying method than the aforementioned clip-on handle.