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As a deputy for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in Texas, I recently took the General Dynamics Itronix GD6000 notebook computer for a ride in my cruiser.
Notebook computers mounted in our patrol cars are almost as important as the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake. The mobile devices provide access to law enforcement applications and databases and allow us to complete and submit reports from the road.
I appreciated the device's overall ruggedness -- especially the built-in wireless air card -- and its solid performance.
For this test, I swapped out my current GD Itronix XR-1 notebook with the GD6000 vehicle-rugged notebook. The GD6000 is designed for vehicle deployments for mobile users such as police officers or utilities inspectors. Technicians used a Havis Universal Laptop Mount to attach the notebook to the floor of a Ford Crown Victoria.
The computer is smaller than the XR-1 (at 10.24 inches long by 12.05 inches wide by 2.24 inches deep). The notebook weighs only 6.2 pounds and packs a lot of power into a small form factor. It sports an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 processor and boots up faster than our current fleet of notebooks.
A 13.3-inch touchscreen is a nice feature and is very easy to clean. The notebook features the Itronix's own DynaVue technology, which is designed to improve outdoor visibility without sacrificing battery power. I didn't experience any screen glare and had good visibility at all times -- no small feat when the Texas sun is beating down on your windshield.
The notebook's outer plastic isn't painted (it's dyed black and gray), which makes it more durable. My regular notebook is painted around the keyboard area. After a year of use, the paint has begun to rub off.
The GD6000's built-in AT&T wireless card is a big plus because I no longer have to worry about accidentally snapping it off. On our current notebooks, the card hangs off the USB port, and breakage has been a problem for me and several other deputies.
The speakers on the notebook are loud and clear -- good for when we have a camera system hooked up and are able to replay footage of traffic stops for training purposes, or if we simply need to replay a video to check for a violation.
The GD6000's internal wireless card is a big plus for IT, too. "We've had to replace dozens of external wireless cards," says Andrae Thierry, computer operator for the county. Obviating the need to replace the cards could save time and money.
In terms of security, Thierry says he can see how the built-in fingerprint reader or smartcard reader could be helpful. "Each officer has his own login, and the fingerprint reader would save them time from typing their passwords in," he says.
Among the few drawbacks to the GD6000: All the USB ports are located on the back of the computer, which is difficult to access on a vehicle-mounted notebook -- so difficult, in fact, that I didn't use them. I also didn't like the two LED task lights that are used to light the keyboard. I prefer the lights to be located under the keys so that the entire keyboard is illuminated. These quibbles aside, the GD6000 proved a worthy addition to our patrol fleet.