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Amrel Rocky RS11

Thin, light, AND rugged? What will they think of next?
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

On September 10, 2013, Amrel announced what the company described as the "thinnest, lightest rugged laptop on the market." The product in question is the Rocky RS11, which weighs 5.5 pounds and is 1.1 inches thick. While there is no official definition as to what exactly constitutes "rugged," judging by its specs, the Rocky RS11 appears to qualify as a rugged device, and Amrel's claims seem true. We do not know of a rugged or even semi-rugged laptop that is thinner and weighs less.

To further illustrate its claim of having the thinnest and lightest rugged laptop in all the land, Amrel promotional materials even put the RS11 back-to-back with a (decidedly non-rugged) Apple MacBook Pro. Checking with the Apple online store shows that both the 13-inch and the 15-inch current MacBook Pros are just under an inch thick. The 13-inch model weighs 4.5 pounds, the 15-inch version 5.6 pounds. So the rugged Rocky RS11 has roughly the weight and profile of a 15-inch MacBook Pro. That's impressive.

The pictures below show the Rocky RS11's left and right sides. And while the LCD case seems rather thin for a rugged notebook, there are the protective bumpers around the corners, and all the ports and openings are covered and sealed with protective doors.

Below is a closer look at some of the design detail, and how the protective port covers are implemented.

So how rugged, exactly, is the Rocky RS11? The machine is sealed to IP65 specifications, which means it's totally sealed against dust, and can also handle low-pressure water jets from all directions. That's what you find on fully rugged machines; semi-rugged models generally offer IP53 or less. The -4 to 131 degree Fahrenheit operating temperature range, likewise, is more in the rugged than semi-rugged range. Amrel doesn't supply a transit drop number (usually three or four feet in fully rugged machines), but refers to functional shock testing instead. That's where equipment must remain functional with a sawtooth pulse shock of at least 40G for 11ms. Fair enough. Amrel also lists a variety of other MIL-STD-810G tests. That all suggests fully rugged, though we'd like some hands-on to confirm the numbers.

On the tech spec side, the RS11 is equally impressive. Amrel uses a 1.7GHz Intel Core i7 processor that can reach up to 2.8GHz in turbo boost. That suggests the 3rd generation i7-3517UE, an ultra-low voltage chip with "embedded" designation. We've benchmarked that chip in other gear and it is a very solid performer with very good economy. That means the RS11's 67 watt-hour battery should last quite long. There is no discrete graphics option, but the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 are more than quick enough for most applications.

On the memory side, the RS11 can accommodate up to 8GB of speedy 1600MHz DDR3 RAM. Mass storage is via removable 2.5-inch SSD. There's good connectivity with three USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 ports, gigabit LAN, and audio. Sealed Fischer connectors (see Fischer Connector site) are optionally available, and they also seem to add an otherwise missing legacy serial port. The RS11 also has a multi bay port on its bottom, but we're not sure yet what the bay looks like.

The display measures 13.3 inches diagonally and offers 1,600 x 900 pixel resolution, which makes for wide-format 16:9 aspect ratio. There's no touch screen option, but the large capacitive touchpad offers multi-touch. The IPS display is described as sunlight-readable, and it has LED backlighting,

Amrel almost always offers wireless connectivity as options, which makes sense given that the military and some other customers may not want integrated radios. Available are 802.1a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, dedicated u-blox GPS, and vendor/technology-independent Gobi 3000 mobile broadband.

There's much we don't know yet about the Amrel Rocky RS11—such as price, screen brightness and treatment, specifics of the multi bay, case materials, etc.—but from what we do know, Amrel may well have a true winner here. The Rocky RS11's combination of low weight, slender profile, high performance, and impressive ruggedness are quite unique, and certain to attract attention.


Based in El Monte, California, AMREL (AMerican RELiance) has a long history of offering value-added applications in vertical markets. The Rocky line of ruggedized notebook computers was introduced in 1995 and has been updated, enhanced, and fine-tuned every since. AMREL was among the first to offer the full power, expansion, and convenience of a standard notebook in a ruggedized package.
Specifications Amrel Rocky RS11
Status Added 09/2013
Type Fully rugged notebook
Processor Intel Core i7-3517UE with 4MB smart cache
CPU Speed 1.7GHz (2.8GHz Turbo)
Video Intel HD Graphics 4000
OS Windows 8, Windows 7 Pro 32-bit or 64-bit
Standard/Max RAM 4GB/8GB DDR3 1600MHz
Disk/drive Removable 2.5" SATA II/III shock-mounted SSD
Optical drive NA
Card slots 1 SD Card, 1 SIM card
Display type Sunlight readable IPS TFT with LED backlight, optional night vision
Display size/res 13.3-inch 1,600 x 900 pixel
Digitizer/pens NA
Keyboard/scale Membrane-type 87-key
Housing Aluminum (military green)
Operating Temp -4° to 131°F (-20° to 55°C)
Sealing IEC 60529, IP65
Shock MIL-STD-810G 516.6, Procedure I
Salt Fog test MIL-STD-810G 509.5
Humidity test MIL-STD-810G 507.5 (Aggravated)
Vibration MIL-STD-810G 514.6, Proc. 1, Cat. 1, 14 and 20
EMC Optional MIL-STD-461F compliance (military package only)
Size (WxHxD) 13.3 x 10.4 x 1.1 inches (338 x 265 x 28 mm) with bumper guards
Weight 5.5 lbs. (2.5 kg)
Power Removable 11.1V 6,040 mAH Li-Ion; optional military 3-pin twisted lock
Interface 3 x USB 3.0 (one w/ fast charger), 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x gigabit RJ45, 3 x USB 2.0, audio in/out, multi bay port; optional sealed Fisher connectors
Wireless Options: Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 802.11a/g/n, uBlox LEA-6H GPS, AirPrime MC8305 Gobi 3000, BlueTooth 2.1 + EDR
List price Inquire
Web rs11.amrel.com or here
Data sheet RS11 spec sheet
Amrel Rocky RS11 details