Tablets have proven to be a huge success amongst field service companies providing a good mix of portability and processing power. However, when it comes to significant data input or powering particularly CPU intensive applications the laptop still remains king. Therefore the rise in prominence of the convertible laptop makes perfect sense in the world of industry.
Here we look at Getac’s latest convertible model the V110...
What the manufacturers say...
The breakthrough design of the Getac V110 rugged convertible enables the computer to be amazingly strong while also being unbelievably light. It truly is a revolution in rugged computing.
At 1.98kg and 34mm thin, it’s 27% lighter and 30% thinner than the previous generation.
The V110 is built to perform, featuring a powerful 5th generation Intel® Core™ processor, flash storage and responsive graphics. It’s the fastest rugged convertible we’ve ever built. The V110’s dual batteries are 66% smaller and 57% lighter than previous generations, and the unique, hot-swappable dual-battery design allows for potentially infinite, uninterrupted battery life.
This enables you to remove one of the two rechargeable batteries and replace it with a fresh battery without ever shutting down apps or your Windows OS.
The V110 rugged convertible has been built using the highest quality materials to make it unflinchingly resilient.
The V110’s main chassis structure is precision cast using magnesium alloy, an incredibly strong structural metal that also happens to be one of the lightest in the world for its strength.
We combined that with an advanced rugged polymer in areas of less impact and rubberised absorption polymer at the main points of contact.
A quick look at the V110 and there is absolutely no mistaking this device for what it is - i.e. a heavy duty rugged device that can handle itself in the field.
In fact the V110 would look right at home in a modern war film set in the deserts of the Middle East such is its rugged outward appearance that reveal its manufacturer’s roots as a leading provider of rugged devices to the military sector.
However, up close and in hand the device is a lot smaller than one might imagine and certainly comes in a more compact form factor than some of its fully rugged convertible counterparts.
Weighing in at just 1.98kg the V110 is over 15% lighter than Panasonic’s C19 and over 20% lighter than Durabook’s U12Ci semi rugged convertible making it certainly one of if not the lightest device of it’s kind in the market currently.
This is largely to do with the V110’s slim depth which at a particularly sleek 34mm which is considerably smaller than other similar rugged convertible devices.
With all of it’s I/O ports tucked away behind lockable, rubberised seals it is perhaps a touch surprising that the V110 isn’t a fully submersible - however, we shall touch on that a little later.
In terms of actually using the device, the full size keyboard is comfortable in hand, and both the touch screen and tracker pad are pleasingly responsive.
Meanwhile the 800 nits LumiBond® display with Getac sunlight readable technology, was certainly a match for the brightest British sunshine available during the testing period and there were no problems with using the device in the outdoors at any point.
Using the device in laptop mode, whilst it was obviously a more robust device than your average laptop, there was never a feeling of trading usability for ruggedity. However, this did change substantially when switching to tablet mode.
“Using the device in laptop mode, whilst it was obviously a more robust device than your average laptop, there was never a feeling of trading usability for ruggedity...”
Essentially, if the sole reason you are considering a convertible is for a keyboard then a rugged tablet with a bluetooth keyboard would be a more slimline and mobile solution for your field service engineers.
However, the point remains of course that the biggest selling point of any laptop over its tablet rivals would be what kind of processing power, storage and optimised inputs and outputs can be squeezed into the extra space under the bonnet.
So let's take a closer look.....
The V110 comes in four different processing power flavours with the top end specifications boasting an Intel Core i7 vPro Technology chip set with an Option Intel Core i7-5600U vPro Processor 2.6GHz Max. 3.2GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology and a 4MB Intel Smart Cache.
When it comes to storage the V110 has 4GB DDR3L which is can be expandable to 16GB and has storage options of a 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB solid state drive.
This gives the V110 enough processing power handle almost any application that could be required of it within a field service environment.
In fact at its optimum configuration the V110 is pretty much at the top of the pile. The only other fully rugged convertible that can keep pace with the V110 is Panasonic’s CF19.
Given the power the V110 holds under its bonnet it makes complete sense for the convertible to be on the Windows platform in order to support the more comprehensive applications that may be used by field service engineers who would require such a powerful tool.
However, what is an impressive inclusion is that in terms of OS the V110 is available in three different versions of Windows - Windows 7, 8 and 10.
This flexibility could be particularly useful for those companies that are making the transition from one iteration of the operating system to another with Windows 7 proving to be the XP of its generation in that is a reliable and robust platform which many companies are reluctant to move away from.
However, many of those that have made the switch to Windows 8 are keen to move on quickly to 10 due to some of the well documented flaws in its predecessor. And it is Windows 10 that shows off the full capabilities of the V110's flexibility as a convertible laptop with the OS being a perfect match for the V110's impressive specifications.
The Ins & Outs:
Aside from the obvious benefits of having a keyboard for data input, perhaps one of the biggest reasons for selecting any form of laptop over a tablet equivalent is the available I/Os - and in this regard the V110 certainly doesn’t disappoint.
As mentioned above all ports are protected within closable rubber sealed enclosures.
In total the V110 boasts:
- Serial port (9-pin; D-sub) x 1
- Headphone out / mic-in Combo x 1
- DC in Jack x 1
- USB 3.0 (9-pin) x 2
- USB 2.0 (4-pin) x 1
- LAN (RJ45) x 1
- HDMI x 1
- Docking connector (24-pin) x 1
In terms of connectivity options the V110 comes with dual band Intel Wireless-AC 7265; 802.11ac meaning it should be able to take the maximum speed from any availableWi-Fi signal whether it be on the 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz frequency.
The V110 is also capable of supporting internet speeds of up-to 1000 mbits per second across an Ethernet connection which could be useful for the transfer of large files from the field back to HQ.
The convertible also comes with Bluetooth 4.0 which should provide reliable, stable and fast connectivity with mobile devices.
One area where the V110 is perhaps let down however, is when it comes to mobile internet.
Whilst the device does have the optional inclusion of Gobi mobile broadband, for field service engineers mobile broadband is absolutely essential for jobs where there may be no conveniently available wi-fi signal.
Similarly a dedicated GPS is only available as an optional extra also. Connectivity is an essential factor in selecting the right tool for our field service engineers and whilst the V110 is clearly capable of being able to deliver high end levels of mobile connectivity, given the importance of such tools for communications in the field one can’t help but feel these should perhaps be standard features rather than optional extras.
When it comes to the rugged specifications of the V110, Getac’s convertible is a pretty robust beast.
"With an IP rating of 65 the V110 is fully protected from dust ingress making it an ideal device for more arid climates whilst it is also certified to survive protection against low pressure water jets from any direction so could be easily cleaned"
It is also well protected against water ingress and, as mentioned previously, all I/Os are protected by rubber seals. Also, the V110 also has an option Salt Fog feature that could make it an ideal device for wet locations such as oil rigs or offshore wind farms etc.
Whilst not fully water proofed, or capable of being fully submersed, the fact is that the device remains well protected from water means it is almost certainly able to cope in most wet environments just as long as you don’t drop it in the sea!
In terms of drop specs the device is certified to Mil-Std 810g (tested by an external third party), so it should be able to cope with almost all knocks and drops. It also e-Mark certified for vehicle usage.
In terms of battery life the V110 is again well provisioned with a dual battery system.
In fact the V110 is powered by 2 separate Li-Ion smart battery (11.1V, 2100mAh) which promise to deliver up to 13 hours of battery life and using the device during our test period we found that this was in fact achievable even with the device being used constantly throughout the day.
Getac also provide LifeSupport battery swappable technology which could theoretically extend the battery life forever although running on two fully charged batteries is likely to be sufficient for even the longest jobs.
In conclusion the V110 is very clearly a well designed, highly specced piece of kit that sits right a the top of its tree when we look at the rugged convertible form factor.
In terms of processing power, rugged specifications, battery life, and I/Os the V110 is either as good as it gets or pretty darn close.
In the hand the device is light and comfortable and, as we saw earlier, compares favourably to similar competitor models in this respect also.
The one major criticism would be aimed not so much at the V110 but at the convertible form factor itself. Whilst they work well as laptops, as a tablet they feel that much more cumbersome and one can’t help but feel the convertible form factor is a stepping stone, towards fully detachable rugged devices that truly offer the best of both worlds.
That said, detachables are still a new concept and as such relatively untested whereas convertibles have been around that much longer and are perhaps the safer alternative currently in a mission critical environment such as field service.
And when it comes to convertibles the V110 is certainly a formidable tool for field service companies and an excellent option for those companies whose field engineers need more computing power than a tablet yet still want the reliability and robustness of a fully rugged device.