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Perhaps the greatest change in law enforcement technology over the last decade has been the rapid proliferation of computers into patrol cars. The average patrol officer can now be dispatched to a call, write up reports, and receive critical alerts on his or her car computer.

David Griffith 2017 Headshot

Perhaps the greatest change in law enforcement technology over the last decade has been the rapid proliferation of computers into patrol cars. The average patrol officer can now be dispatched to a call, write up reports, and receive critical alerts on his or her car computer.

Here's a look at some of the products that may be mounted in your car this year.


When you bestow the trade name "Rocky" on a line of computers, they had better be tough. Amrel's Rocky line of rugged computers lives up to its name. The line, which includes tablets and notebooks, is ruggedized to MIL-STD 810F. They can sustain rain, shock, humidity, vibration, salt, fog, altitude, and extreme temperatures. Yet, they are also light and fast. The Rocky Apex tablet has a high-speed Intel ultra low-voltage CPU, 512MB of RAM, and an 8.4-inch SVGA TFT Alpha-Star touchscreen display. Its laptop counterpart, the Rocky Unlimited RT7, features an Intel Pentium Dothan processor, 512MB RAM, a 60GB hard drive, and a 13.3-inch anti-reflective TFT display.


Alameda, Calif.-based Data911 makes mobile data solutions as well as in-car digital video systems. The flagship of Data911's product line is the M5, a modular system that's easy to upgrade, easy to install, and airbag-compliant in Ford and GM fleet vehicles. Multiple display options are available for the M5, including 15-inch, 12.1-inch, and 8.4-inch all with 1200+ NIT brightness. The M5 makes an excellent complement for Data911's Mobile Digital Video (MDV) system. Data911's MDV is a car-mounted wireless video camera that captures video and audio. Users can set it for continuous recording or to trigger when an incident begins.


You can find Datalux computers in many hospitals throughout America. The company also makes the Tracer, a popular all-in-one system found in many police cars. One reason for the Tracer's popularity is that it is very easy to install; all you have to do is attach a single connection. Another interesting feature of the Tracer is that it has no cooling fan. The sealed case dissipates heat through pipes. You can get the Tracer with one of three different processors: a 1.4-GHz Pentium M with a 2MB cache, a 1.6-GHz Pentium M with a 1MB cache, and a 1.3-GHz Celeron with a 512MB cache. The data is displayed on a 12.1-inch LCD with XGA resolution.

General Dynamics-Itronix

Itronix's latest ruggedized notebook is the GoBook XR-1, a 6.8-pound notebook that boasts a next-generation mobile dual-core Intel Core Duo 1.83-GHz processor with an FSB of 667MHz and a 2MB L2 cache. A 40GB hard drive is standard, but the computer can accommodate an 80GB drive. The GoBook XR-1 meets MIL-STD 810 F for durability and performance.


Getac is not exactly a household word, but the company is well known in the ruggedized computer market. Its M230 notebook is popular with industrial, military, and law enforcement users. The M230 meets MIL-STD 810F for survivability, and it features the latest CPU: a 1.66-GHz Intel Core Duo L2400 with a 2MB cache. Data storage is handled by 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive.

Glacier Computer

Primarily known for its ruggedized computers used in industrial applications, Glacier Computer recently entered the public safety market with its Magnum line. The Magnum comes with a 12-inch sunlight-readable color display and is offered with CPUs ranging in power from a 600MHz Celeron to a 1.4-GHz Pentium M. One unusual feature of the Magnum system is that it has a custom, onboard diagnostic and configuration utility. The diagnostic utility provides IT personnel with real-time access to key statistics such as processor temperature.

JLT Mobile Computers

Sweden's JLT Mobile Computers makes mobile computers and nothing else. The JLT12041 is a rugged (MIL-STD 810F) fixed-mount computer for public safety application. It comes in two versions: one with an Intel 1.4-GHz Pentium M CPU and 1GB of RAM and the other a 400-MHz processor with 128MB of RAM. JLT's display is a 12.1-inch 1000NIT SVGA touchscreen that's designed for use in bright sunshine and is also dimmable for night operations. A motorcycle version, the JLT100021, is also available with similar features and processing power as the car-sized models.


Although the company is not very well known in the United States, Kontron is one of the world's largest manufacturers of onboard computer systems and ruggedized notebook computers. Kontron's two best known products are the Envoy_II three-piece mobile data computing system and the Rugged Note ruggedized laptop. The Envoy_II features a 1.7-GHz Intel Pentium M processor with 512MB of RAM and a 2MB L2 cache. Storage options include 40GB, 60GB, and 80GB hard drives. The Rugged Note is a less than six-pound laptop that features a 1.1-GHz Intel Pentium M processor with a 1MB cache, 256MB of RAM, and a 60GB hard drive.

L-3 Communications

Most cops don't know the name L-3 Communications, but the company's products are well known. L-3 was constructed of divisions that once were part of Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, General Electric, and other major defense contractors. Its mobile data system for law enforcement is the MobileVu computer. MobileVu is a lot like a classic mobile data terminal. The brain of the system is mounted in the trunk, and the display and keyboard are mounted in the passenger area of the car. MobileVu's 12.1-inch 1500 NIT color matrix display is ultra bright for sunlight viewing but dimmable for night work.


Odds are if you use a computer in your patrol car, it's a Panasonic Toughbook. The Toughbook is by far the most popular mobile law enforcement computer. Last fall, Panasonic debuted the latest versions of these powerful and extremely rugged systems. The Toughbook CF-30 notebook and the CF-19 convertible tablet PC both have displays that are twice as bright as most rugged notebook displays. Yet, it delivers more than six hours of battery life. The CF-30 notebook features a 1.66-GHz Intel Core Duo Processor with a 2MB L2 cache, 512MB of RAM, and a 60- or 80GB hard drive. The CF-19 convertible tablet PC is powered by a 1.06-GHz Intel Core Duo processor with a 2MB L2 cache, 512MB of RAM, and an 80GB hard drive.

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