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In-Car Computers

Mobile technology makers offer a variety of systems for law enforcement vehicles.

October 01, 2006  |  by - Also by this author


Lake Forest, Calif.-based Getac makes a variety of ruggedized computers for public safety and military applications. All are certified to comply with MIL-STD 810F.

The latest model in the Getac line is the M220 Ruggedized Notebook. Boasting a 14.1-inch TFT XGA LCD touchscreen, the M220 excels in visibility and screen real estate. The CPU is an Intel 1.6-GHz Dothan LV processor with a 400-MHz FSB. Storage options start with a standard 80GB hard drive, and the system memory starts at 512KB of RAM.


A subsidiary of General Dynamics, Spokane, Wash.-based Itronix makes a full line of ruggedized notebooks and tablet PCs. As you might expect from its parentage, Itronix gets a lot of sales from the military, but its public safety division is also strong.

Itronix's latest ruggedized notebook is the GoBook XR-1, a lightweight (6.8 pounds) but tough mobile computer that features the latest in CPU and memory components. The GoBook XR-1 boasts a next-generation mobile dual-core Intel Core Duo 1.83-GHz processor with an FSB of 667 MHz. A 40GB hard drive is standard, but the computer can accommodate an 80GB drive. The GoBook XR-1 meets MIL-STD 810F for durability and performance.

JLT Mobile Computers

As the name implies, Sweden's JLT Mobile Computers makes mobile computers and nothing else. The company's product line includes a variety of on-board computer systems for both cars and motorcycles.

The JLT12041 is a rugged (MIL-STD 810F) fixed-mount computer for patrol vehicles. There are two versions available. The high-end model offers an Intel 1.4-GHz Pentium M CPU and 1GB of RAM. But the real star of the system is the display. It's a 12.1-inch 1000NIT SVGA touchscreen that's designed for use in bright sunshine and is also dimmable for night operations. In contrast, the basic JLT12041 is very, well...basic. It's got a 400-MHz processor, 128MB of RAM, and 420NIT display.

A smaller version, the JLT100021, is available for motorcycles. Like the JLT12041, this system is available in a high-end version and a basic version.


Germany's Kontron is one of the world's top manufacturers of on-board computer systems and ruggedized laptops. The company's two primary law enforcement products are the Envoy_II three-piece mobile data computing system and the Rugged Note ruggedized laptop.

The Envoy_II is an on-board computer system that offers low power consumption and MIL-STD 810F toughness. It's powered by a 1.7-GHz Intel Pentium M processor and features 512MB of system storage, expandable to 1GB. Data storage is handled by a 40GB hard drive that comes standard. Storage capacity is expandable to 80GB.

Kontron's Rugged Note is one of the lightest ruggedized notebooks on the market, weighing just under six pounds. The Rugged Note features a 1.1-GHz Intel Pentium M processor with a 1MB cache. System storage is handled by 256MB of RAM, and the hard drive slot can support a 60GB drive.

L3 Communications

Last decade's shakeout in the aerospace/defense industry helped create L3 communications. The company includes divisions that were once part of Raytheon, part of Lockheed-Martin, part of General Electric, and other major defense contractors. In the public safety sector, L3 is best know for its infrared surveillance devices and its mobile communications and computers.

L3's MobileVu Computers on-board systems feature trunk-mountable processors and bright, easy-to-read touchscreen displays. The MobileVu display is a 12.1-inch 1500NIT color matrix LCD that's great in sunlight and dimmable for night viewing.


Japan's Panasonic is perhaps the world's leader in supplying ruggedized laptop computers for military and law enforcement applications. If you see a laptop inside a police car, odds are that it will be a Toughbook. The Toughbook is the laptop computer most often used by American law enforcement.

The latest versions of the Toughbook are the Toughbook-18 and the Toughbook-29. The 29 is your basic Toughbook. It has a relatively thick, sturdy frame that's lightweight (7.9 pounds) and a reinforced 13.1-inch touchscreen display. Processing in the 29 is handled by a 1.60-GHz Intel Pentium M CPU with a 2MB Level II cache. The basic memory package is 60GB with 256KB of RAM. Upgrades are available.

Panasonic's Toughbook-18 is a very versatile ruggedized laptop that can be converted into a Tablet PC. When the computer is open, the user can flip the display so that it becomes a flat writing surface. You sacrifice a little screen real estate for this versatility-the 18's touchscreen display is only 10.4 inches-but if you need both a laptop and a tablet, the 18 bears a look. The CPU is a 1.2-GHz Pentium M processor with a 2MB Level II cache. Standard memory is 512MB of RAM expandable to 1.5GB and standard storage is a 60GB hard drive.

Both the Toughbook-29 and the Toughbook-18 meet MIL-STD 810F survivability requirements.

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