Can We Break a Durabook?
We get nasty with Twinhead's Durabook to see how well this ruggedized notebook takes the punishment our diabolical testers dish out.
The drop test is really very lame. Dropping to a plywood deck on a wooden frame on grass is a very easy test. Try dropping to a tile floor on a concrete base. Or, better yet, try dropping to just plain concrete. These are the places things often get dropped (airports, fast food joints, cafeterias). The drop to plywood on a wood frame absorbs a huge amount of the energy of the fall. The results would not be pretty if you performed the same test on a harder, rigid surface. Also, try dropping on a corner. 'Pop' will go the display. Trust me, I know what I am talking about. I design mobile, hand held computers for a living and the display & hard drive just won't take it in a consumer product (However, you can make these things survive in a MIL-SPEC portable device it's just that the laptop will be larger and heavier to get the shock isolation).
I fully agree with Mitch. The test method and apparatus needs to be tougher than that. Also, what about a shake test, on say, a paint shaker on a midrange speed? If the internal connectors, mini-pci cards can survive that, then I'd call it tough.
Also, if you had tested it alongside a Panasonic ToughBook that would have given us a reference to compare the results.
The test is indeed lame. I work over concrete, I'd like a concrete-proof laptop from standing position (taking a quick look at something on my notebook) This is just barely better then typical laptops... I droped my typical Dell laptop quite a few times from ~30 inches on my living room hardwood floor and it didn't break yet - weirdly enough, I broke a part of it while taking it out of it's carrying bag though!
Anyhow to the point, I was interested in it because it featured - tada - an RS-232 port... it's quite hard to find nowadays!
But I noticed something: on their site it advertizes the D14RY as a Centrino Duo; not a Core 2 Duo!
So essentially, ignore the performance test, they don't sell that laptop!
I agree with the detractors above. The durability testing was not good enough. The main users of these devices will be contractors and similar jobs, which will almost always be falls on concrete. They should have dropped it from 60" and also should have dropped it on the corners.
My only other complaint about the article is that it is really annoying when you show benchmark results with only one product in the charts. Show the scores for the THG base system (or any system really). Even if the two aren't that similar in specs, at least it would give some indication of relative performance. The charts are useless without that as I have no idea how many bungholio marks any other system gets. You could say it scores 1000 or 10000 points and it wouldn't make any difference to me without a point of reference.
Well, looking deeper into the issue, the "30inch or so test" is in laymens terms the "standard military test used normal notebooks" (as opposed to some - so they market - so fancy high-tech test...
Another problem I found was that one of the reselers sells "Intel Core Dual Processor Technology" (wtf?) with the model "X" and "XL" (are they selling T-shirts?) - with a Core 2 Duo logo (I wonder if they'd sell me a Centrino Duo wether I could sue them for flase representation).
Given that in their latest show in Jan 2007 they were still offering only 4 models of DURABOOK I wonder where they came up with the X and XL models...
You guys at THG don't have the faintest idea how to do a proper notebook durability test.
I used to own a Panasonic CF34 Toughbook. It was the first we would later have in a fleet of laptops for work. Needless to say, the first thing I did when I got it was go outside with the boss and do a drop test from 3 feet onto the concrete sidewalk WITH THE COMPUTER RUNNING.
It fell hard on it's corner, but when I picked it up and opened the screen, the machine was still running, the hard drive was perfectly fine, the screen and the case showed no damage whatsoever, and my boss was quite impressed.
Incidentally, I did this concrete drop test while running a CPU/GPU stress test.
Another test we did was to put the unit under a tap of running water, dousing both the keyboard and the screen, again WHILE THE COMPUTER WAS RUNNING.
No damage whatsoever.
A third test we did was to put the unit inside a leather attache case and hurtle the case as far as we could across the room and have it land on the floor. The unit was switched off for this test.
When we powered it back on, all was well, and the attache case padded the unit from the fall without damaging the exterior or the LCD.
For our endurance test, we mounted the unit inside a vehicle on a special mount and ran it through a week-long trial. This was right at the peak of summer, temperatures inside the vehicle reached 144F at times while it was over 100F outside in the shade and 120F in the direct sun. We left it parked in the sun on the dashboard for 3 days, drove the vehicle over every bad road we could find, intentionally spilled water, coffee, soda on the keyboard, deliberately blew sand and dust over it, and gave it a solid knock more than a couple of times.
Needless to say, it survived in the hands of our "barbarian" driver.
I suspect they were required to return the review unit in new condition, but if you're going to put a toughbook through it's paces, my advice to THG is to, first, remove the kid gloves, and second, handle the unit like a man.
That is, if you can.
That was lame as it gets.
You want a leak test. Test it while the laptop is ON. Strap it to the roof of the car and drive through a car wash.
I can submerge a microwave in to gasoline, let it dry over night and it will still work. Duhhh..
Office assault? You guys getting paid for this rubbish?
You want a real test, toss the laptop out the window from a moving car on to a free way.
In my branch of the military we use panasonic toughbooks as well, and I can say from experience, the older models, the CF-29's, and the CF-30's are beasts. I am not sure about the newer ones, I think they went through a redesign but anyways, we have a system that comes in a shock absorbing and weather resistant case with the toughbook, the printer, and a digital camera and they throw you out of a plane with the case closely behind, and once you hit the ground you are told to get to work. How I love toughbooks, I think they could probably be used as body armor.
I try not to be critical of Tom's articles as there are plenty around who do so on very minor points that are subjective to them... HOWEVER, these so called tests to show how strong the laptop is do very little to convince.
The drop test should have been done from a greater height onto a surface that the intended users would drop it on i.e. a hard surface. A drop onto the corners with the power on would be the next step after this rather than seeing how good it is at knocking a plastic hat off someone's head.
I figured I'd be nit picking at this point but actually I'm not, the spill test should have been done with the laptop on! I've seen all sorts of devices live after liquid has run over them and then dried off, this doesn't prove anything.
Normally I look at all the bitching on here about your articles and think to myself that for all the time and effort required I probably wouldn't have done a better job myself. On this occasion I think I'd have done it about 10x better.
I have to agree that the drop test should have been a little more tough. I've dropped my R3000 while it was on and done it no harm.
As far as the liquid test goes. It should have been done with it on.
My brother friend ran his computer with the side off on the floor and somehow got a waffle on the sound card just took it out....washed it in the sink and let a fan dry it off. Good as new. once liquid dries(how many times has a remote got pop and other stuff) its not likely to do any damage.
As a last note. they should have tested the hard drive with some tools. all i saw was a will it boot. ohh good.
Drop it from higher you know you want to maybe drop it in the bath tub :P
I'm gonna agree with the others and that the durability test did not test the limits of notebook.
All of the tests should have been conducted when the system is on, and running a CPU/GPU/HDD/ stress test (and constantly reading a CD at 48x), running in an infinite loop. The notebook should have been dropped from 6' onto a corner, landing onto concrete, instead of the plywood--as this would replicate more realistic conditions.
With regards to the liquid spill test, again, the system should be on, and spilled with 20oz of soda and it should still be functioning. Better, pour soda all over it, and then start spilling gallons of water to clean out the soda in the system, while the system is operational.
With regards to more "office like" conditions; (again, while the system is on, running it's stress tests) the note book should be stepped on with one foot, by a male that weighs around 180lb, it should face the power-cord trip test, and be toss down a flight of stairs, from corner to corner.
Also, intentional damage should be replicated, such as take the notebook and throw it towards a wall out of pure frustration, it should also take a 20lb sledge to the notebook, to see what kind of damage it can with stand.
As a measure of durability, the notebook should been tossed out of the tallest sky scraper and see if the HDD is still readable.
Oh also, drag the notebook through mud, sand, and water...
Another note to the stress test, the notebook should be open, with screen at "normal" viewing angles, when performing drop, kick, run over tests....
Just my two cents....
I agree that enviroment temperature should also be part of the durability testing. here in some parts of Australia the temperature in the shade over summer can reach the into the mid and 50's Celsius (+140 F). Most computer aren't even to be stored at that temperature.
I would like to see computer at leas to be able to run in temperatures up to 50 Celsius and stored up to at least 75 Celsius .
If a computer is left in a car out in the sun in summer I know of many computer that have die as of a result.
I believe that manufacture that don't honor warranty because they say that you stored it at to high of temperate, even when there specified temperature is much lower that the temperature in the shade of normal climate conditions should changed
It can easily get in to greater than 70 in a parked car over summer.