It's a hard-knock life: 3 rugged notebooks take a beating

We dropped, drowned and shook these fully ruggedized notebooks to see if they could hold up. Not all survived.

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LaCie offers a hard drive for tough times

If the 80GB of storage that either the Toughbook CF-30 or the GoBook XR-1 provide are too constricting, but you don't want to give up the peace of mind that rugged design and construction provide, there's another way: the LaCie Rugged Hard Disk.

At 8.8 oz. and measuring 1 by 3.5 by 5.7 in., it's about the size and weight of other portable hard drives, but there's a big difference: This drive has soft rubber edging and internal bumpers, as well as a tough aluminum shell to protect the drive inside. (On the other hand, all its ports are open to the environment, which is a definite drawback.)

The 160GB model we looked at is a jack of all trades: The 2.5-in. drive has 8MB of hardware cache and includes USB 2.0, FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 connectors for $150.

rugged_lacie_sm.jpg

LaCie Rugged Hard Disk

Click to view larger image.

After I plugged it in, the drive automatically set itself up on Windows XP, Vista and Mac OS X systems and yielded 149GB of usable space. It was powered by either the FireWire or USB cable. The LaCie worked well with four test computers, stayed cool and operated quietly.

As measured by Simpli Software's HD Tach benchmark on a ThinkPad X300 with a USB 2.0 connection, the drive had an access time of 17.8 milliseconds and a peak burst speed of 35.4Mbit/sec., which is competitive with the stated performance of other external hard drives.

The LaCie drive also performed admirably through my torture tests. It survived six drops from 29 inches, freezing, heating, and being sprayed with an ounce of water &mdash and kept on running.

LaCie's Rugged Hard Drive comes with a three-year warranty, as well as backup programs for PCs and Macs. All told, it's a quick way to make sure your data always has a safety net.

3 Rugged Notebooks

Results - Torture Tests

GDI GoBook XR-1 Getac M230 Panasonic Toughbook 30
Dropped Scratched bottom No damage No damage
Vibration Two keys loose No damage No damage
Moisture No damage No damage No damage
Submersion AC adapter light blinks System failure No damage
Sand Sand got into fan No damage No damage
Heat (175 degrees F) No damage No damage

Power connector

cover broke
Cold (25 degrees F) No damage No damage No damage

3 Rugged Notebooks

Results - Performance Benchmarks

GDI GoBook XR-1 Getac M230 Panasonic Toughbook 30
Futuremark PCMark 05* 3,331 2,689 3,239
PassMark Performance 6.1* 422.5 373.7 316.5
Battery life (hours:minutes)* 2:45 4:25 7:20
*Higher is better

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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