Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

vendredi 11 avril 2003

BusinessWeek reports that ruggedized notebooks are commonly deployed by troops in Iraq. Here are some selected quotes.

Early in the war in Iraq, a firefight broke out in a neighborhood that had supposedly been secured by coalition forces. As bullets whizzed by, a U.S. soldier did what came naturally: He held up his laptop computer, a Toughbook 72 from Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. Unlike most plastic-covered laptops, this "semi-rugged" model has a hard magnesium shell and steel-reinforced innards. The improvised shield did the trick. "There's a bullet lodged in his hard drive," marvels Maria Leadingham, who manages technology for the Civil Affairs Psychological Operations Center at Fort Bragg, N.C.
No, Panasonic doesn't bill its Toughbooks as bulletproof. But its "fully ruggedized" models are all but impervious to sand and heat, and even the semi-rugged models can stand up to the daily jostling of war. As a result, more than 5,000 are in use in Iraq. Special Forces paratroopers pack a four-pound model in their backpacks. B-1 bomber crews use them for mission planning.
So far, the machines are proving their mettle. After sandstorms in late March, 6 of 32 standard notebooks used in Leadingham's group suffered technical glitches, compared with only 3 of 200 Toughbooks.

Of course, fully ruggedized notebooks are expensive -- in the $3,000 range.

But some semi-rugged models, which come equipped with spill-resistant keyboards, hard casings, and gel-encased disk drives, cost just 10% more than garden-variety models.

This can increase sales of such notebooks, especially when looking at additional savings.

The real appeal is reduced maintenance costs. Analysts say 20% of mainstream laptops fail in the first year, usually because of accidental damage. That rises to 35% once a notebook leaves its docking station and to more than 50% for machines that are used outdoors or on shop floors. But the failure rate of rugged or semi-rugged machines is just 5%.

Source: Peter Burrows, BusinessWeek Online, April 11, 2003

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