Getac, a brand known mostly for its fully rugged notebooks, is dipping its toe into the more mainstream business-rugged category, taking the knowledge gained from its enterprise-class systems and applying it to a larger audience. The Getac 9213 ($1,799) is a stylish, light system that can withstand the abuse of hard-core road warriors. It’s designed to survive short drops and resist damage from water spills. Just don’t expect blazing performance.
Adorned in black brushed aluminum, the exterior of the Getac 9213 is reminiscent of the stylish (and much more expensive) Samsung X360—as well as the much less expensive Acer Aspire 3935. The look continues on the 9213’s keyboard deck, where it’s offset by silver aluminum trim. Four blue lights on the front edge indicate the status of the Wi-Fi connection, power, battery, and hard drive. At 12.6 x 9.0 x 1.1 inches and 3.8 pounds, the 9213 is an ultraportable that’s truly easy to carry. While the equally rugged Panasonic Toughbook F8 is the same weight, it’s nearly an inch wider and thicker.
Security and Business-Rugged Features
In addition to a fingerprint reader, the Getac 9213 comes with TPM circuitry for extra security. Also, according to Getac, the keyboard is rated to withstand liquid spills of up to 100 ccs (about 3 ounces). The hard drive and display are shock-mounted, and the system can be dropped safely from about 18 inches when turned on and 30 inches when it’s off. We dropped the Getac 9213 twice from 18 inches, twice from 30 inches, and poured 3 ounces of water on the keyboard, and the notebook suffered no ill effects.
The ruggedness of the Getac 9213 compares with that of the Panasonic Toughbook F8 (starting at $2,499), which can withstand as much as 6 ounces of liquid and is drop resistant to 30 inches. The HP EliteBook line doesn’t make drop claims, but has been tested to meet the military standard 810F (MIL-STD 810F), which means it withstands temperatures from 140°F to –20°F and meets the MIL-STD 810F for altitude, dust, high temperatures, humidity, and vibration.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The matte keys on the 9213 offer excellent response and exhibited no flex, but their placement takes some getting used to. The Enter key is oriented vertically rather than horizontally, which forces users to reach farther to the right with their pinkies; we kept hitting the slash button by mistake. Also, the left Shift key is somewhat undersized, but Getac has included adequately sized arrow keys on the right.
We like that the glossy touchpad is relatively large, but the tiny braille-like dots that cover the surface offer a bit too much friction. Still, we had no problem moving the cursor. Below the touchpad, two responsive mouse buttons are separated by a fingerprint reader.
Above the keyboard on the left are three touch-sensitive buttons: A Battery button (which works only when the notebook is unplugged) lets users change their power settings on the fly, an Internet button opens the browser; and the P1 button opens the G-Manager for viewing system information, such as battery life, Wi-Fi strength, and even such granular data as CPU and hard drive temperature.
Display and Audio
The glossy 13.3-inch, LED-backlit display (Getac does not offer a matte display) on the 9213 was plenty bright and offered excellent viewing angles horizontally, but degraded fairly quickly when we tilted the screen forward. Its resolution of 1280 x 800 was more than adequate for the size; a 1080p video (The Magic of Flight) played smoothly, and we easily made out finer details, such as smoke trails left by airplanes.
The speakers, located on the bottom front of the chassis, were adequate for personal use, but we would never confuse the 9213 for an entertainment system; nevertheless, we could appreciate the intricate classical guitar of Rodrigo y Gabriela when we streamed their strumming over Pandora.
Ports and webcam
For a 13-inch system, the Getac 9213 has a full complement of ports: two USB, VGA, docking, and headphone and mic ports are on the left; an additional USB port, DVD drive, and ExpressCard/34 slot are on the right; and the front houses a 4-in-1 memory card slot. We also would have liked an eSATA port for fast backups to external drives.
The 1.3-megapixel webcam in the bezel above the display captured accurate if dim video during video chats in Skype, and although there was some motion blur, it wasn’t egregious.
Powered by a 1.4-Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 processor and 3GB of RAM, the Getac 9213 is no speed demon, but will certainly provide adequate power for everyday business use. Its PCMark Vantage score of 2,269 is about 400 points below the Acer Aspire Timeline 3810T we tested (which had the same processor with 4GB of memory) and 500 points below the ultraportable average. Still, we were able to listen to music streamed from Pandora, surf the Web in Internet Explorer, and write this review in Microsoft Word without any concerns.
The 9213’s 160GB, 5,400 rpm drive was disappointing; Although it booted into Vista Business in just 46 seconds (as a result of the lack of preinstalled trialware), the drive took 7 minutes and 6 seconds to duplicate a 4.97GB folder of mixed media, a rate of 11.9 MBps—well below the category average of 19.8 MBps.
Graphics and Video Transcoding
The Getac’s integrated Intel GS45 GPU with 256MB of shared memory was rather anemic, garnering just 657 in 3DMark06; that’s 200 points below the category average, and about 40 points below the Timeline 3810T. As with the CPU, though, this system isn’t intended for heavy graphics lifting; you need look no further than the 9213’s score of just 3 frames per second when running Far Cry 2 at 1024 x 768. On a sightseeing trip to New York City using Google Earth, the Getac took about 15 seconds to fully render the 3D buildings in lower Manhattan.
When we used the 9213 to transcode a 5-minute-and-5-second MPEG-4 file to AVI using Handbrake, it took 10:36, which is 5 minutes faster than the category average. But when we performed the same test while compressing a 4.97GB mixed-media folder in the background, it took 36:45, which is more than 10 minutes slower than the average ultraportable.
Battery Life and Wi-Fi
Despite Getac’s claims that the 9213’s six-cell battery lasts up to 8 hours, on our LAPTOP Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi), it held out for just 4:38, 12 minutes short of the ultraportable average. Users can purchase an additional three-cell battery ($119) that takes the place of the DVD-ROM drive and provides additional runtime.
The Intel Ultimate N WiFi Link 5300 chip gave us throughput of 20.6 Mbps at 15 feet and 18.8 Mbps at 50 feet; both are just above the category averages; episodes of The Daily Show streamed from Hulu were fluid, the audio was in sync with the video, and although Getac doesn’t offer an integrated broadband option at the moment, the company plans to include it in the future.
Configurations and Upgradeability
There aren’t many options for customizing the Getac 9213: You can upgrade the hard drive to 250GB for $149. An additional six-cell battery costs $159, and a three-cell battery in place of the DVD drive will cost $119. Or, to make the system lighter, you can purchase a weight saver (also in place of the DVD drive) for $29.
Software and Warranty
The Getac 9213 comes with little preinstalled software, which is a good thing for a business notebook. Included are a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2007, Ulead DVD Movie Factory, InterVideo WinDVD, and Getac’s handy G-Manager utility. Getac backs the system with a three-year return-to-depot warranty, and its toll-free tech support is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.
Your interest in the Getac 9213 will ultimately come down to how much you need its business-rugged features. Though its list price of $1,799 might seem steep, keep in mind that Getac intends to sell this machine to enterprise customers, who most likely will see a discount. The Dell Latitude E4300, while not as rugged, is roughly the same size and weight, can be had for $445 less (2.26-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SP9300, 2GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive), and comes with on-site service from the Dell Small and Medium Business site. Although the Panasonic Toughbook F8 lasted an hour longer and had better performance scores, the Getac offers the same ruggedness in a smaller package, and for $1,100 less, too. It may not be lightning fast, but the Getac 9213 is a stylish, durable, and lightweight notebook that should prove attractive to road warriors.