Laptops and now tablets are essential to our daily lives - both business and leisure - but take that computer outside beyond a sidewalk café, and you'll realize this device is really out of its element. For those who work in the field, more than just a plastic or thin metal shell is required to protect their hardware. The R13C convertible computer from GammeTech has all the features to pass Military Standard 810G certification, and then some.

The portable PC passes certification tests for drop, shock, and spill protection. It also stands up to an explosive atmosphere such as operation near a mine or other explosions. The rugged features also include protection against salt, fog, freezing and thawing.

Part of the Durabook line of rugged computers, the R13C is an upgraded version of the R13S. The R13C is a convertible computer, meaning it operates as a laptop, but the screen also swivels and operates as a touch screen tablet for different applications. The Durabook comes with an Intel Core Low Power i7-620LM vPro Processor, which means more battery time in the field. It can be built up to 8GB of system memory.

The 2.5-inch shock-mounted SATA hard drive has its own heater, and a quick removal feature for those moments when you just have to pull the drive. Additional drives and inputs on the system include an ultra slim super-multi DVD drive; I/O ports including a built-in RS-232 serial port with RS-422/485 optional; a low-voltage express card slot with a PC card slot option; two USB ports; SIM card connector; SD card reader and other media inputs.

Standing up to the elements is one thing, but taking a beating is another story. In addition to the IP65 rating, which means portions of the unit are protected against contact with dust, water and just about anything else, the convertible computer is housed in a magnesium alloy case that's 20 times stronger than the ABS plastic typically used for laptops, and often rugged laptops. GammaTech tested the R13C to Military Standard 810G, and a version rated for Military Standard 461E/F is available as an option.

Display is another feature where rugged laptops often get the shaft, with dim images in sunlight, and typically a smaller screen. The R13C features a 13.3-inch multi-touch shock-mounted, 1,000-nit LCD sunlight readable screen. The screen has a lock and eight-level adjustable LED, to be sure you can see the display in sunlight - which typically washes out most laptop screens.

A comparable ruggedized laptop, the GETAC X500 released early summer 2011, features a 15.6-inch QuadraClear sunlight-readable LED display with 1,000 cd/m2 of brightness.

The GammaTech R13C is available through GammaTech and authorized resellers. Details on the cost of the R13C are not available at this point.

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