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The semi-rugged credentials of the Getac S400 include meeting MIL-STD-810G and IP5X. The former gives it certification for operating in temperatures between 45ºC and -15ºC, (113ºF and 5ºF) and withstanding sudden, dramatic changes in temperature, resisting driving and wind-driven rain, and surviving free fall drop tests from a 4ft (1.22m) height. Meanwhile, the IP5X standard rates the device for 'Ingress Protection', covering dust and water in particular.
That's quite a serious certification for a 'semi-rugged' notebook, whose build quality also belies the 'semi' nature of the ruggedness.
The chassis is made from what Getac calls 'KryptoShell', which is extremely solid. There's absolutely no give at all in the (often weak) lid and wrist rest areas. The trade-off is that the S400 is relatively bulky and heavy — especially for a 14in. system — at 34.8cm by 25.8cm by 4.92cm and 2.9kg.There's a carrying handle built into the front edge of the chassis, which is easily removed with the right-sized Allen key. The keyboard is spill resistant, while the hard drive, which is removable, has shock protection. There are plenty of ports and connectors around the edges of the chassis, protected by multiple hinged covers that allow access to just a few at a time, keeping the remainder covered and protected.
Getac adds other features that help you use the S400 in harsh conditions. The 14in., 1,366-by-768-pixel screen responds to both finger and stylus touch — there's a housing for the stylus on the chassis edge, while the screen can be used with gloved as well as bare fingers. There's an option for a 700-nits sunlight-readable screen. The keyboard can be backlit too.
Undepinning all these special features is a decent specification. The S400 can be configured with a discrete graphics controller (Nvidia's GeForce G310M), up to 8GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive or an 80GB SSD. Options include a multitouch touchpad, a webcam, Bluetooth (2.1+EDR), mobile broadband (Gobi 2000) and GPS.
Standard features include a fingerprint scanner, smartcard reader, Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Gigabit Ethernet, an IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port, three USB 2.0 ports and a further USB 2.0/eSATA combo connector, a pair of audio jacks, plus VGA and serial ports.
There is a DVD super-multi drive, PC Card and ExpressCard/54 slots, and a multi-format flash card reader. Getac doesn't stint on processing power, either. You can specify either a 2.53GHz Intel Core i3-380M or a 2.4GHz Core i5-520M. The operating system is Windows 7 Professional.
All this doesn't come cheap, with a starting price of £1,227 (ex. VAT). But if you want a notebook that will survive challenging conditions, you need to be prepared to pay for a system like the Getac S400.