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March 19, 2014

Getac's latest rugged convertible replaces the V8 with a turbo-4

I love cars and often use automotive analogies to describe situations. One came to mind recently as we evaluated a particularly interesting new rugged mobile computer. So here goes:

With gas mileage becoming ever more important in cars and trucks, the automotive industry has been pulling all stops to come up with more fuel efficient vehicles. One way to boost fuel efficiency is to reduce the weight of the vehicle. Another is to use smaller turbocharged motors to burn less fuel while providing the same performance.

That came to mind when we did a full hands-on test with the new Getac V110 convertible notebook computer. It's very significantly lighter than its two predecessor models. And it uses a processor with less than half the thermal design power than those predecessor models. Yet, it offers close to the same performance and has even longer battery life.

Here's how this likely came about. While Getac's early convertible notebooks had used low-voltage economical processors, subsequent models became more powerful and required larger batteries. That eventually pushed their weight in the six to seven pound range, quite a bit for devices meant to be carried around and occasionally used as tablets.

So Getac's engineers went back to the drawing board and designed a new convertible notebook, using the latest space and weight-saving technologies to cut an ounce here and a fraction of a inch there. Most importantly, they switched to low-voltage versions of Intel's 4th generation Core processors that include new and superior power saving features. That allowed them to replace the massive battery of the older models with two small batteries, each no larger than an iPhone. The resulting design, the V110, weighs over two pounds less than the last V200 we tested, and a good pound and a half less than the old V100. The V110 is also much thinner.

So as for the automotive analogy, Getac replaced a hulking V8-powered SUV with a much svelter, lighter one with a turbo-4.

But does that work in the real world? For the most part it does. While peak processor performance of the V110 is close to that of the standard-voltage predecessor models, idle power draw is less than half. What that means is that in many routine applications, the re-engineered and much lighter V110 will get the job done on what amounts to half a tank compared to the predecessor models. There's just one area where the automotive analogy breaks down: whereas automotive turbos can suck a good amount of fuel under full load, the V110 remained quite economical even when pushed to the limits.

Posted by conradb212 at March 19, 2014 03:55 PM

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