Infantry: Good Things Come In Small Packages


September 18, 2007: Just in time for Christmas, here's something for those of you who have a platoon leader or Special Forces type guy who's hard to shop for. Computer makers are now creating laptops for combat (and industrial/police etc) users. Ruggedized laptops have been around for over a decade, but they are getting really, really rugged, and small. A good example of this breed of computer is the GoBook MR-1 rugged Ultra Mobile PC. This is a two pound unit with a 5.6 inch (1024 x 600 pixel) display, optimized for outdoor viewing. The unit comes standard with an 40 gigabyte hard drive and half a gigabyte of RAM memory. But you can upgrade to an 80 gig hard drive and a gig of RAM, as well as an all RAM hard drive. Batteries are available to provide three or six hours of use. There are plenty of commo options, including wi-fi, Bluetooth and GPS. External video provides 2048 x 1536 resolution, making it easy to plug into one of those 30 inch displays back at headquarters. There is plenty of I/O ports for common military electronics.

The MR-1 is seriously immune to bad treatment, dust, liquids, and even chemical weapons, like nerve gas (and the chemicals used to decontaminate equipment that has been gassed.) The standard installed operating system is Windows XP, but Vista is available. There is a three year warranty. The base model is $4,500, but you can load on several thousand dollars of extras. But it's small, 1.6 inches high, six inches wide and 4.3 inches deep. That means a lot on the battlefield.

Most commanders now use a laptop on the battlefield. Orders, including maps, are often received electronically, or via a thumb drive. Lots of documents that used to be on paper, are now on a laptop. So a compact, and rugged, laptop is very appealing to combat officers.


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