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Senior Editor

Itronix GoBook III runs cooler, includes GPS chipset

Sep 22, 20043 mins
Cellular NetworksNetwork Security

Southwest Gas is one of the first companies to roll out Itronix’s powerful GoBook III rugged laptop. So far no has reported cooking quesadillas on them.

“Quesadilla cookers” was the nickname given to the older GoBook II models, mounted in front of the windshield in hundreds of trucks and cars used by the gas utility’s customer service reps, meter readers and construction crews. In the searing summer heat of the Southwest, coupled with hot-running Intel chipsets, the laptops seemed to be hot enough to use as a stove, says Richard McNutt, project manager in the IT department for the Las Vegas utility.

The new GoBooks are using Intel’s most advanced Pentium M, the 745, running at 1.8 GHz. But Intel’s latest generation runs cooler and demands less power, and for efficiently dissipates what heat it creates. According to Itronix, battery life is 30% greater in the new model, based on the standard battery mark test, up to about 3.5 hours.

But there are other changes in GoBook III, some of them long pushed by Itronix’s customers. An important change for Southwest Gas is an optional integrate GPS radio chipset, picking up satellite signals to pinpoint a truck’s location. Previously, employees relied on a separate GPS device that was frustratingly sensitive to vibration. Vibration is common in the Southwest where the utility’s trucks often are in desolate areas with unimproved roads.

McNutt has high praise for Itronix’ intgegrated GPS. “It’s more reliable, it picks up more satellites, and the client software tells us a lot more about the signal reception,” he says.

Another key change for the utility is the laptop’s 12.1-inch color display that’s bright enough to be seen clearly even in the desert sunshine. “It’s very noticeable,” McNutt says. “People got excited being able to see the text on work orders and read [onscreen] maps easier.”

The GoBook III comes with a built-in WLAN NIC: the Intel PRO/Wireless 2200 BG, which supports both 802.11b and 11g in the 2.4 GHz band. Southwest Gas uses the WLAN connection for data synchronization, file transfers and software updates. Crews park their vehicles in the dispatch yards at the end of their shifts, where the GoBooks can connect to a WLAN access point. Using that connection, the IT group automatically updates up to 1,000 of the new models every night.

Itronix offers still more radio options: a Bluetooth NIC for short-range connections to Bluetooth-equipped printers, or cameras, cell phones or bar-code readers; and a choice of cellular interfaces: either CDMA/1xRTT or GPRS/EDGE.

A new dedicated video processor, ATI’s Radeon Mobility chip, and 64M bytes of video RAM, makes a map drawing application used by Southwest Gas work crews run noticeably faster, McNutt says. The new laptop displays video at 140 frames per second compared to 32 frames for the older model. The GoBook also has 2,048M bytes of DRAM and an 80G byte hard drive.

The computer is built with a die-cast magnesium housing, waterproof glow-in-the-dark keyboard, and meets or exceeds Mil Spec 810F test standards, according to Itronix.

The GoBook III will be generally available in October. The suggested base retail price is $4,495. It comes with a limited three-year warranty.

Senior Editor

I cover wireless networking and mobile computing, especially for the enterprise; topics include (and these are specific to wireless/mobile): security, network management, mobile device management, smartphones and tablets, mobile operating systems (iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS and BlackBerry 10), BYOD (bring your own device), Wi-Fi and wireless LANs (WLANs), mobile carrier services for enterprise/business customers, mobile applications including software development and HTML 5, mobile browsers, etc; primary beat companies are Apple, Microsoft for Windows Phone and tablet/mobile Windows 8, and RIM. Preferred contact mode: email.

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