Editor's note: This story originally appeared in Computer Shopper magazine. (3/14/06)
The $2,199 midsize Durabook N15RI comes ready to meet many hazards of travel, encased in extratough magnesium alloy and equipped with rubberized vibration protection for the hard drive and the LCD. Spill-resistant membranes shield the keyboard, the speakers, the touch pad, and the LCD.
Like James Bond with a Kevlar vest under his tuxedo, the 6.8-pound notebook (7.7 pounds with AC adapter) wears its protection well. We found it hard to distinguish this tough guy from the nonrugged notebooks in our Labs. At 13 inches wide, 10.8 inches deep, and 1.6 inches thick, the Durabook N15RI isn't as bulky as most ruggedized laptops.
The Durabook N15RI's standard array of connections and ports include FireWire, VGA, serial, S-Video, and three USB 2.0 ports as well as headphone and microphone jacks; the one high-end addition is an S/PDIF audio jack. The Durabook's networking connections include modem, Ethernet, and an Intel 802.11a/b/g radio; it lacks the built-in cellular radio you'd expect on a laptop designed to go beyond the safety of the office and the airplane. Our review unit included a modest DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive.
The Durabook doesn't force you to sacrifice power for durability. Our test model came with a 2.26GHz Pentium M processor, a whopping 2GB of RAM, and a huge 100GB, 5,400rpm hard drive. It had a few major weaknesses, however: slow 333MHz RAM and underpowered integrated graphics. Also disappointing was the 15.1-inch standard-aspect display with a 1,024x768 native resolution; it offers considerably less screen real estate than wide-screen models.
Performance was a tale of two tests. The Durabook served up an impressive score on our SysMark 2004 test, matching the much more expensive and slightly besting the considerably less expensive Acer TravelMate 8104, which has a slower processor. Gaming performance was another story. Bridled by its integrated GPU, the Durabook N15RI managed only a paltry 4.7 frames per second on our Doom 3 benchmark. As such, we can't recommend it for gaming, but it should be quite sufficient for typical productivity tasks and other demanding (though not graphics-intensive) applications.
Twinhead's industry-standard one-year warranty includes a year of toll-free technical support, and an upgrade to three years costs a reasonable $125. You can also opt for the $60 ExpressCare48, which covers overnight shipping to and from Twinhead should your Durabook need repair.
|BAPCo's SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
Find out more about how we test Windows notebooks.
Acer TravelMate 8104
Windows XP Professional; Intel Pentium M 760 2GHz; 1GB PC4300 DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon X700 128MB; Seagate ST9100823A Momentus 100GB 5,400rpm
Windows XP Media Center Edition; 2.26GHz Pentium M 780; 1GB PC4200 DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; Nvidia GeForce Go 7800 GTX 256MB; Fujitsu MHV2100AH 100GB 5,400rpm
Windows XP Professional; Intel Pentium M 780 2.26GHz; 2GB PC2700 DDR SDRAM 333MHz; Intel i915GM/GMS, 910GM Express 224MB; Fujitsu MHV2100AH 100GB 5,400rpm