Not only do fully rugged notebooks have to perform well for a variety of tasks, but they have to do so in environments that would reduce most other systems to a heap of plastic and metal. With an Intel Core i7 processor and a tough-as-nails magnesium alloy chassis, Getac's new V110 ($3,298 as tested) excels at both its duties. Plus, this 11-inch touch-screen convertible is light for a rugged notebook, making it well-suited for those times when you need to lug it around, whether it's around the construction site or the middle of the desert.
Design: Twist and Shout
Even in this age of 2-in-1 notebooks, it's still fairly rare to see a system that lets you rotate the display on two axes; Dell's rugged Latitude notebook used to have this hinge before it switched to a different mechanism. In order to go from laptop to tablet mode on the Getac, you lift the lid 90 degrees, twist it 180 degrees, then fold it back onto the keyboard.
It's an older style, but it's still effective. Helpfully, markings on the bottom bezel tell you which way to turn the screen for laptop or tablet mode, so that you don't wreck the hinge by accident. A spring-loaded latch on the front secures the lid in place.
I also like that pins on each of the corners help secure the screen in place, but they could become bothersome if you try to rest your palm on the lower part of the display.
You're never going to mistake the 4.4-pound, 12 x 9 x 1.3-inch V110 for an iPad Air, but all things considered, it wasn't too uncomfortable to hold the Getac in the crook of my arm while I drew on the screen.
To make it easier to use in tablet mode, the V110 has buttons along the front edge for power and volume, as well as two that are user-configurable. These let you do things such as quick-launch the camera or any other installed app.
The left side has locking bays that grant you access to the hard drive and one of its batteries, while the right side has a bay for the second battery, as well as slots for USB, a smart card reader and an ExpressCard/54 slot. The only thing missing from the V110 is a slot for the included stylus. However, it can be tethered to and stowed in the removable plastic handle that comes with the notebook.
Durability and Security
The Getac V110 is built to take all kinds of abuse. Its chassis and lid is made from magnesium alloy, and rubber bumpers at each of its corners help dampen the shock from a fall. It has a MIL-STD 810G rating, which means it can withstand drops from 4 feet, and operating temperatures from minus 5.8 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 F.
While it can't be completely submerged in water, its sealed ports have an IP65 rating, which means the system can withstand water being poured on it.
I put the V110 to the test by dropping it several times from 4 feet with the system on and the lid closed. I also poured nearly half a watering can's worth of water on the notebook's keyboard, and the system came through both tests without issue.
In case something does go wrong, the notebook comes with a three-year warranty that covers all major system components. Getac uses FedEx TechConnect to service the unit, which helps ensure faster turnaround times.
The V110 also has several security features available, including an optional fingerprint reader.
Keyboard and Touchpad
At first glance, I really liked the V110's keyboard. The island-style keys have big, bold lettering, making the backlit layout easier to see in the dark. The keys also benefit from an above-average travel of 2.1mm, and require 78 grams of force to press, also better than average. However, once I started typing, my enthusiasm dipped. I found my fingers sliding off the edges of the keys, which would dip down around their edges, exacerbating the problem. As a result, on the typingtest.com test, I averaged 59 words per minute, below my average of around 68 wpm.
Built into the bottom of the 3.5 x 1.75 touchpad, the V110's mouse buttons were somewhat hard to press. Such is the price of having a spill-resistant deck.
Display: Daylight Bright
Designed to be used in almost any condition, the V110's 11.6-inch 1366 x 768-pixel screen is one of the brightest we've ever tested. Registering a retina-searing 931 nits, I could easily see it in direct sunlight. Even the darker scenes in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer were somewhat visible.
Under office lighting, the same trailer looked pretty good, too. The crimson of the Empire's banners was well saturated, and there was great contrast between the white and the black of the stormtroopers' armor.
On our lab tests, though, the V110 wasn't the most colorful, as the display reproduced only 70.5 percent of the sRGB color gamut. Its Delta-E rating of 4.03 (where numbers closer to 0 are better) is also far from accurate.
The V110's LumiBond 2 panel supports 10-finger touch -- bare or with a glove, so Luke Skywalker is covered -- and it also worked with an included stylus.
The front-facing speakers on the V110 were able to pump out dialogue and music fairly well -it'll suffice for video chats -- but don't expect high-fidelity audio.
The V110's 2.2-GHz Intel Core i5-5200U, 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD provides more than enough power for pretty much anything you throw at it. The machine never stuttered as I browsed the Web, played videos and crunched numbers.
On Geekbench 3, the V110's score of 5,318 was higher than the ultraportable average (4,696), and on a par with other notebooks with the same CPU, such as the $899 Dell XPS 13 (5,530).
While not the fastest, the Getac's 128GB SSD duplicated 5GB of multimedia files at a rate of 154.2 MBps, about 30 MBps slower than average, but faster than the 87.7 MBps offered by the Dell.
The V110 was able to pair 20,000 names and addresses in OpenOffice in 5 minutes and 7 seconds. That's a good 2 minutes faster than the average ultraportable (7:29).
Its integrated Intel HD Graphics 5500 proved capable, but not commendable, as it averaged a not-quite-playable 29 fps in World of Warcraft with the graphics set to Good and the resolution at its native 1366 x 768 (we consider 30 fps to be the bare minimum). That's well below the typical ultraportable (36 fps) as well as the Dell (41 fps).
The Getac G Manager is a small, handy utility that shows you the current state of the notebook (from Wi-Fi strength to battery life and health), and lets you configure the touch screen for finger, glove or pen input. This app also enables you to monitor GPS (if installed), as well as select if you want to use any external antennas connected to the V110's docking station.
While it has a number of manual controls (white balance, contrast, hue, night mode), the V110's camera is worse than what you'll get from a budget smartphone. Not only were images low-res, but they had a gauzy cast that made it look as if I was the subject of a Barbara Walters interview.
The dual batteries in the V110 combined to last for 8 hours and 56 minutes on the Laptop Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi). That's just a few minutes shy of our ultraportable average (9 hours). However, the V110 has dual hot-swappable batteries, so provided you have enough spares, you could keep the notebook on indefinitely.
The V110 is available with a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-5300U, 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-5500U, or 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-5600U processors. The notebook can also be configured with a 4-band LTE or an 8-band 3G antenna GPS.
Getac also sells a variety of accessories for the V110, including docks (in-office and in-vehicle), extra batteries and even a solar charger.
Just because a notebook is rugged doesn't mean you have to sacrifice portability, especially in the case of a convertible. The Getac V110 successfully combines the power of an ultraportable like the Dell XPS 13 and the versatility of a tablet like the iPad in a single device that field workers can take practically anywhere. Its hardened exterior means this machine will survive conditions that would turn other devices into little more than spare parts. Although I wish Getac offered a holster on the V110 for the included stylus, and the webcam could be better, overall this is a highly durable ultraportable that's well worth the investment.