When Computers Get Tough

Rugged computers for the law enforcement officer


Motorola Public Safety. The ML900 rugged notebook from this Schaumburg, Illinois-based company, offers integrated wireless capabilities over local, cellular and private wireless networks so information can be shared for situational awareness and decision support, whenever and wherever emergencies occur.

Designed to stand up to harsh environments, the ML900 operates in extreme temperatures from -20 to 60 degrees Celsius, withstands multiple 3-foot drops, and is sealed from water, dust and humidity. The rugged notebook comes equipped with a high-resolution, 13.3-inch display so users can view multiple applications simultaneously.

The ML900 contains an integrated 500-dpi fingerprint reader. This biometric recognition system allows officers to protect their data without the headache of remembering passwords, and provides convenient "authentic user only" access.

Panasonic Computer Solutions. This Secaucus, New Jersey-based company's fully rugged CF-19 and CF-30 Toughbooks are built to go wherever the job takes the officer. From the field to the station, Toughbook takes the punishment while its shock-mounted removable hard drive performs the most advanced applications flawlessly. Both mobile PCs are designed using the military's MIL-STD-810F test procedures that measure equipment durability under harsh conditions including drops, shocks, vibration and extremes in temperature.

The Toughbook 30 is encased in magnesium alloy, with durability designed into every seal, hinge and connector. Armed with Intel's dual core processor, it is a fast, fullyrugged mobile PC, built for quick processing and wireless connectivity.

The Toughbook 30 allows a user to communicate in real time from remote areas, access databases online and run sophisticated software applications, even in the harshest environments and its 1,000-nit brightness makes the screen visible in any condition.

"Law enforcement professionals demand durable, reliable solutions that work wherever they do, and they trust Panasonic to deliver that," says Jan Ruderman, director, public sector, Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. "The Toughbook CF-19 and CF-30 with wireless connectivity and 1,000-nit display are the latest examples of how Panasonic engineers will continue to push the limits of technology where our customers' missions require it."

RuggedNotebooks.com. Based in Orange, California, this company manufactures (among other ruggedized notebooks, tablets and handheld computers) the Rough Rider Max.

"The transflective display actually reflects light back to users rather than just using more bulbs or making it brighter," Alan Shad, vice president of marketing, explains, adding that this proprietary technology is desirable because using more bulbs can compromise battery life and result in a heavier and hotter-running device.

The Rough Rider is compliant to MIL-STD-810F (it can withstand temperatures of -4 F to 122 F) and is IP54 rated for water and dust. Shad says it can handle up to 4 inches of rainfall per hour and describes it as showerproof, not waterproof. Dust resistance is achieved through the use of double seals inside and outside, and through the use of an O-ring gasket that encircles the entire cabinet and LCD for what he terms, "a second line of defense." A copper tube cooling system distributes heat evenly throughout the unit's case. Various mount options, such as floor or console, are available, as are universal mounts.

Trimble Navigation. One of the rugged handheld computers made by this Corvallis, Oregon-based company is the Recon X. Dale Kyle, product manager for rugged handheld products, describes this as a handheld in a PDA form factor and says it's a little smaller than most handheld computers.

The Recon X is designed to handle immersion in water for up to 30 minutes. (On the company's Web site is displayed this device at the bottom of a fish tank, a space Kyle says it has occupied for "a long time." It is easy to see that it still works. "However, we don't recommend doing this," he adds.) It can operate in temperatures ranging from -22 F to 140 F.

The electronic rugged components are shock-mounted on a PC board and then set into a polycarbonate shell that has a rubberized overbolt to help absorb shock. The touchscreen display is recessed to protect it and is also "kind of" shock-mounted, says Kyle. It has an eight-button keypad.

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