3.5 star rating

General Dynamics Itronix GoBook MR-1 Review

$5,649.00
Pros: Fully rugged design; Daylight readable screen; Built-in GPS; Lots of expansion options; Backlit keyboard;
Cons: Extremely expensive; Finicky cursor controls; Short battery life with standard battery;
The Verdict: This fully rugged ultra-mobile PC can take a beating and boasts a sunlight-readable display.

REVIEW

SPECIFICATIONS

The General Dynamics Itronix GoBook MR-1 is one tough little notebook. Engineered to meet or exceed the military standard (MIL-STD-810F) for drop, shock, vibration, and temperature, it is well suited for field workers. While its $5,649 (as configured) price tag will give most consumers a severe case of sticker shock, the cost is not as big a factor for its target audience, who need a system that can be used outdoors and take a good amount of abuse.

Article Continued Below

Design

Weighing in at 2 pounds and measuring 6.6 x 4.8 x 1.6 inches, the GoBook MR-1 features a durable magnesium alloy clamshell chassis, shock-absorbing materials, and sealed ports to protect interior components. The device has an odd shape thanks to a GPS antenna (a $375 option) jutting out of the top left side of the brushed aluminum lid and a legacy keyboard slice (a $199 option) attached to the front edge of the keyboard deck. The slice contains a TPM security chip, an RS232 serial port, and a USB port.

Display

The 5.6-inch display has a native resolution of 1024 x 600 and has touchscreen capabilities. The screen is bright and offers good viewing angles, but you may want to bump up the font size to Extra Large—the Windows default size can be tough on the eyes. Thanks to Itronix’s DynaVue screen technology, the display looks just as good in bright sunlight as it does indoors, a must for field-service personnel. The touchscreen was responsive, but with such a small screen it’s easy to hit the wrong icon accidentally, especially if you have bigger fingers. Luckily, the GoBook MR-1 also comes with a stylus.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Like the rest of the unit, the keyboard deck is water-resistant and conforms to the IP54 specifications, meaning it will repel both rain and dust. The full QWERTY keyboard is understandably small but the keys are well spaced and comfortable for thumb-typing. We love the addition of a dedicated Ctrl+Alt+Del key, as well as a Zoom button that magnifies the screen 1.5 times. If that’s still not big enough you can hit Ctrl+Alt+M to increase the image up to ten times the original screen size.

On the upper right portion of the deck are a small touchpad and a joystick cursor controller; the left and right mouse buttons are off to the left. In between are a four-way direction pad and the power switch. The touchpad is responsive and smooth, but we found the joystick controller to be stiff and prone to cursor drifts.

All keyboard keys and controller buttons are backlit for optimal nighttime use. Standard ports are limited to a single USB port and a docking connector located on the rear of the unit. In addition to the optional slice on our review unit, Itronix can configure the GoBook MR-1 with a PC Card slice or a Multi-I/O slice ($399 each) if you require a PC Card slot or additional USB and FireWire ports. Docking options include an in-dash vehicle dock ($610), a mini office dock ($129), a remote I/O module for vehicle dock ($280), and a vibration-resistant pedestal mount dock ($739).

Performance

Under the hood is a 1.2-GHz Ultra Low Voltage Intel Core Solo U1400 processor, 1GB of system memory, and Intel’s GMA 950 graphic engine. This is a relatively low-end processor, so we weren’t surprised by its lackluster performance. On our PCMark05 benchmark test (which measures Windows XP application performance) the MR-1 turned in a score of 1,434, more than 500 points below the average for a UMPC. Its score of 899 on 3DMark03 (which tests Direct X9 performance) was more than 300 points above average, but you still wouldn’t want to use this device for graphics-intensive tasks.

Even with a single-core CPU, the GoBook MR-1 multitasked well. We encoded about 2 hours worth of music in iTunes, which took 12 minutes and 49 seconds to complete—nearly twice the amount of time of a dual-core notebook. With a Windows Defender full scan running in the background, the system needed only an additional minute and a half to complete the encoding process. We also watched a video clip while running a Windows Media Encoder test and did not notice any stutter or lag.

A shock-mounted 80GB hard drive comes loaded with Windows XP Professional and has a heater to keep things running in extreme weather conditions. The system needed 1 minute and 5 seconds to boot Windows XP, which is a bit on the slow side. You can order the GoBook MR-1 with a 32GB or 64GB solid state drive for an extra $700 or $1,549, respectively. The slow rotational speed of the hard drive (4,200-rpm) is to blame for the system’s subpar score of 8.0 MBps on the LAPTOP Transfer Test (copying a 4.97GB folder of mixed media).

Durability

The GoBook MR-1 held up just fine while undergoing our durability testing. We performed three consecutive drop tests onto a carpeted floor from a height of 36 inches, making sure the notebook landed on a different edge each time. The GoBook MR-1 started up as usual after each drop and we found no evidence of damage. Likewise, the unit passed our water test with flying colors; we spilled a total of three ounces of water on three different areas of the keyboard with no adverse effect.

GPS and Wi-Fi

We fired up the GPS radio using Leadtek’s WinFast Navigator software (included) and had to wait 23 minutes for the system to acquire a 3D fix, which means that at least four satellite signals have been locked in. Subsequent launches were much faster; we obtained a 3D fix in less than a minute in most cases. 

In addition to GPS, our review unit came with an integrated 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi adapter ($225), which performed well, delivering throughput of 19.0 Mbps and 13.2 Mbps at distances of 15 and 50 feet from our access point, respectively. You can add mobile broadband connectivity for $799 (EV-DO or HSDPA) and Bluetooth for $145.

Battery Life

Surprisingly, the GoBook MR-1’s battery lasted just 2 hours and 41 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi); for a machine that’s going to see a lot of use far from an outlet, we would expect a longer runtime. Users can also purchase an extended battery ($299) that the company says will provide up to 6 hours of juice.

Verdict

With a base price of $4,450, the GoBook MR-1 is wildly expensive to begin with, and that’s before adding in staples like Wi-Fi and a sizable hard drive. However, this UMPC is a good fit for military personnel, first responders, and other outdoors workers who require an extremely durable ultra-mobile notebook, at any cost.

Tags: General Dynamics Itronix GoBook MR-1, General Dynamics, rugged notebooks, Ultraportable Notebooks, notebooks, reviews, laptops

Technical Specifications
General Dynamics Itronix GoBook MR-1
www.gd-itronix.com


The central processor unit, or CPU, is the brain of your notebook.
Learn More
CPU
1.2-GHz ULV Intel Core Solo
Operating SystemMS Windows Vista Basic
The amount of memory our reviewed configuration comes with.
Learn More
RAM
1GB
The maximum amount of memory this notebook supports.
Learn More
RAM Upgradable to
1 GB
Amount of data your storage drive can hold.
Learn More
Hard Drive Size
80GB
The rotation speed of a mechanical hard drive.
Learn More
Hard Drive Speed
4,200rpm
Your notebook’s storage drive (hard drive or solid state drive) holds your operating system, your programs, and your data.
Learn More
Hard Drive Type
SATA Hard Drive
Your notebook display is the primary viewing device for your laptop computer.
Learn More
Display Size
5.6
The number of pxiels (wxh) displayed on your screen at once.
Learn More
Native Resolution
1024x600
Graphics chips are responsible for processing all images sent to your computer’s display.
Learn More
Graphics Card
Intel GMA 950
The amount of memory available for graphics processing.
Learn More
Video Memory
128MB
Wi-Fi connects you to a router or hotspot for wireless Internet access.
Learn More
Wi-Fi
802.11a/b/g
Bluetooth allows you to connect to wireless devices such as headsets, smart phones, and speakers.
Bluetooth
Bluetooth 2.0
Ports allow you to connect to external devices such as monitors, printers, MP3 players, and hard drivse.
Learn More
Ports (excluding USB)
Headphone; serial
USB ports allow you to connect many external devices, from MP3 players to external hard drives.
Learn More
USB Ports
2
Warranty/SupportThree-year limited, one-year battery, two-way shipping for covered repairs/24/7 toll-free phone
Size6.6 x 4.8 x 1.6 inches
Weight2.0 pounds
FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 3840 x 2160 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE