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General Dynamics Itronix GD3080

Field-proven, fully-rugged, compact 8.4-inch tablet gets name change and a number of tech updates
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, October 2011)

On October 4, 2011, General Dynamics Itronix introduced the GD3080, a fully-rugged tablet computer for mobile professionals who need consistently reliable wireless computing regardless of weather conditions, seasons, or time of day. The GD3080 also so happens to be the latest generation of the company's venerable Duo-Touch II tablet, a time-proven and field-tested design that goes all the way back to 2003 when Itronix introduced it as the GoBook Tablet PC. The name change from the descriptive Duo-Touch II to GD3080 is in line with the company's gradual switching to a consistent GDxxx nomenclature.

First, for those new to this tablet platform, it's a conventional rugged tablet computer that measures 10.6 x 7.2 inches -- significantly smaller than a standard sheet of paper -- and weighs barely more than four pounds. It has a sunlight-readable 8.4-inch display, and the "Duo-Touch" name came from being one of the first to incorporate a combination of auto-switching touch screen and active digitizer. Our full review of the original Duo-Touch is here, and our full review of the Duo-Touch II, the immediate predecessor of the new GD3080, is here.

Now, what's new and exciting about the GD3080? Not that much. This is mostly a technology update and not an attempt at an entirely new machine. So we're not talking rugged iPad (though it does share the iPad's 1024 x 768 pixel resolution) or anticipating Windows 8 here (though the GD3080 will definitely be able to take advantage of it).

Not that staying with a field-tested, mature form factor and design is necessarily a bad thing. Existing Duo-Touch customers will welcome an updated machine that is fully compatible with all existing peripherals and accessories. And new customers will be able to take advantage of a full complement of such peripherals and accessories, something that's usually not available right away for an entirely new design. The picture to the left, for example, shows the optional Desk Mount dock that charges the main and expansion battery as well as a second spare, includes two USB ports, and a 15-pin CRT port connector for an external monitor. GD-Itronix also offers vehicle docks and numerous cases, straps, keyboards, etc. for the GD3080.

But let's see what's new and improved. First and foremost, the 8.4-inch display now offers 1024 x 768 pixel XGA resolution, up from the 800 x 600 res of the Duo-Touch II. That's 60% more pixels (780k vs. 480k) and is entirely more suitable for today's complex web pages and applications. A big plus here. Next, the 3080 comes with Windows 7 versus Vista or the older XP Tablet PC Edition (older OS custom images remain available). 2GB of DDR2 memory is now standard. The batteries have almost 10% more capacity (43 vs 40 watt-hours for both the primary and the expansion battery). Bluetooth is now the more secure version 2.1. On the storage side, customers can now opt for 2.5-inch hard disks as large as 500GB (vs. just 160GB) or optional solid state disks up to 256GB solid state disks (vs. 128GB). All good moves.

On the processor side, things remain unchanged as far as we can tell. It's still the 1.2GHz Core Duo U2500 processor that's been a stalwart in this class of machine for several years. I say "as far as we can tell" since the specs don't list a model designation, but front side bus speed is now listed as 800MHz while the U2500 generally runs at 533MHz. We're not talking Core i7 speediness here, but solid performance with likely a Passmark summary score of about 320 for a hard disk-equipped unit, roughly 50% faster than your average Atom-based design.

The GD3080 is a fully rugged computer that's able to operate within a very wide temperature range of -4 to 140 degree Fahrenheit. It has been tested in accordance with methods described in MIL-STD-810G. The GD3080 survived a total of 26 drops from three feet on each face, edge and corner. Ingress protection sealing is at the IP54 level. This means the housing is protected against dust and also against water spray from all directions.

The GD3080 also meets ASTM 4169-99 truck assurance Level II, Schedule B. ASTM stands for American Society for Testing and Materials but is now simply known as ASTM International. The D 4169 standard sets tests and requirements for strength, durability and protective capability of packaging. Level II stands for medium test intensities (Level I is highest and Level II lowest) and is most commonly used.

GD-Itronix also offers optional compliance with UL 1604 Class I, Div. 2, Group A/B/C/D. UL 1604 is a certification document by Underwriters Laboratories and covers equipment, circuits, or components intended for use in hazardous locations. This basically deals with a unit's safeguarding against causing ignition of specified flammable gas- or vapor-air mixtures.

GD-Itronix always affords special attention to best possible wireless versatility and performance, and the GD3080 is no different. It can be ordered with Bluetooth 2.1, 802.11 a/g/n WiFi, and SiRFstarIII GPS. There's also a sealed PC Card slot for radio card support and 3G WWAN. Up to three RF modems and GPS can be integrated in a unit at one time.

Bottomline: with the GD3080 General Dynamics Itronix provides a technology update to its fully-rugged tablet PC platform while continuing with the standardization of its product line nomenclature ("Duo-Touch" was actually more descriptive, and with the growing emphasis on touch would have remained a great choice of name). Complete backward compatibility and legacy support are appreciated, and both new and existing customers will greatly welcome the extra real estate of the new XGA display.

Contact:

General Dynamics Itronix
1000 Sawgrass Corporate Parkway, Suite 300
Sunrise, FL 33323
Tel: +1-800-441-1309 or +1-954-846-3400

Specifications
Added/changed Added 10/2011
Processor 1.2GHz Intel Core Duo ULV U2500 with 2MB L2 Cache and 800MHz front side bus
CPU Speed 1.20 GHz
TDP 9 watts
OS Windows 7 Professional
Chipset/Graphics Mobile Intel 945 Express
Standard/Max RAM 2GB DDR2
Disk/drive Up to 500GB shock-mounted hard disk with heater; 120GB and 256GB Solid State Drive options
Card slots 1 PC Card Type I/II (supports Cardbus 2.1), 1 CF Card Type I/II
Display type Transmissive TFT LCD with sunlight-viewable DynaVue technology and LED backlight
Display size/res 8.4" XGA (1024 x 768 pixel)
Digitizer/pens Passive touch screen standard; optional dual digitizer
Keyboard/scale Onscreen, optional external USB
Housing Magnesium alloy casing and impact absorbing exoskeleton
Operating Temp -4° to 140° F (-20° to 60° C)
Sealing IP54
Shock Multiple 3-foot drops to plywood
Humidity 5% to 95% non-condensing
Size (WxHxD) 10.6 x 7.2 x 1.65 inches (270 x 184 x 42 mm)
Weight 4.0 lbs.
Security Pre-boot and supervisor password, TPM v1.2, Fingerprint Reader, Computrace BIOS software, Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), Virtualization Technology (VT); Smart Card (optional)
Power Rechargeable 11.1V/3,900mAH 43 watt-hour Li-Ion smart battery; optional external 11.1V/3,900mAH battery
Communications Optional integrated: 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth class 1, V2.1+EDR, SiRFstarIII GPS, sealed PC Card slot for radio card support
Interface 2 USB 2.0 host, audio/mic, RJ-11, RJ-45, Pogo pin mount dock
List price Starting at US$3,250
Contact www.gd-itronix.com, 1-800-441-1309
Data sheet GS3080 data sheet (PDF)

Definitions and Primers
  • Active vs passive digitizers
  • What does "rugged" mean?
  • Rugged Specs Primer
  • FIPS 201
  • Intrinsic Safety
  • NEMA Ratings
  • NVIS standards
  • IEC 60601
  • IP Rating
  • RFID
  • RFID vs. Bar Code
  • RFID viruses and worms
  • RoHS
  • Outdoor-readable screens
  • MIL-STD-461E
  • Wide-angle LCDs