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Getac M220 - a Notebook Always at Hand

December 9, 2005








These days computers are required in all the domains, I guess. Of course, computers would also be welcome in uncomfortable conditions, to put it mildly. Rugged notebooks are designed for various emergency services, scientific expeditions, the army, as well as extreme sportsmen. Our readers may have already read the review of such a notebook from Panasonic. Today we are going to review a product from one of the most famous manufacturers of rugged notebooks - Mitac, who sells its products under the Getac trademark. Getac M 220 is certified to conform with military (810F, 461E) as well as industrial (IP54) environmental standards. Official web site publishes environmental conditions, in which these notebooks can operate. For all this, Getac M220 is quite a modern computer, just have a look at its specifications.

Getac M220 Specifications
(according to the manufacturer)

Processor Intel 738 LV Processor, 1.4 GHz (in our sample) or Intel 778 LV Processor, 1.6 GHz, µ-FCBGA, 400MHz FSB, 2MB L2 Cache
Chipset Intel 855GME + ICH4-M
RAM Two easily accessible 200-pin PC2100/ PC2700 DDR SODIMM slots
Standard: 256MB DDR SDRAM (in our sample), Maximum: 2 GB DDR SDRAM
Display
  • 14.1" Anti-reflective TFT transmissive XGA (1024x768) display (in our sample)
  • Optional 15.0" Anti-reflective TFT transmissive SXGA+ (1400x1050) display
  • Optional 14.1" Touch Screen
  • Optional 14.1" Sunlight Readable Display
  • Optional 14.1" Touch Screen/Sunlight Readable Display
  • Optional 15.0" Sunlight Readable Display

Graphics
  • Integrated (in our sample)
  • Optional ATI M11 64MB

Audio AC97 Rev. 2.3 support
HDD
  • Removable shock mounted 40GB HDD (our sample was equipped with Toshiba MK4025GAS)
  • HDD encryption feature (eNova solution 40bits)
  • Optional 60GB/ 80GB HDD
  • Optional low temp HDD heater (-20°~55°C)

Optical storage
  • Standard removable 24x CD-ROM Drive (our sample was equipped with TEAC CD-224E)
  • Optional removable COMBO Drive
  • Optional removable DVDRW (+/-) Recorder
  • Optional removable additional battery

PCMCIA Type II x 2 or Type III x 1 with CardBus support
I/O ports
  • 1 x serial port
  • 2 x USB 2.0 (supports bootable USB optical drive, up to 1A)
  • CRT port
  • PS/2 port
  • 1 x parallel port
  • RJ-45
  • RJ-11
  • Microphone-in
  • Line-out
  • IR
  • Docking Port (POGO, hot docking)

Keyboard
  • Water-proof membrane keyboard
  • Optional Back-light Rubber Keyboard

Communications:
  • 10/100 base-T Ethernet
  • 56kbps Modem
  • Wireless LAN (Centrino platform) 802.11 b/g
  • Factory Optional GPS module
  • Factory Optional wireless module from COM GSM/GPRS with 1 antenna (Reserve iDen/DataTAC interface)
  • Factory Optional Bluetooth module

Power supply

Dimensions and weight
  • 328 x 272 x 43 mm (12.9"(W) x 10.7"(D) x 1.7"(H))
  • 3.9 kg (8.6 lbs)

It's a pity our sample was not equipped with all optional accessories - it would have been an impressive device. But even in its minimal configuration, Getac M220 can solve almost a full range of tasks, except for 3D graphics processing.

Package Contents:

  • Notebook
  • Power supply unit with a cord
  • Phone line connector
  • User's Guide (in English)
  • CD with drivers and utilities (optional automatic install)
  • Installation Guide
  • A needle to remove CD from the switched-off notebook

The list of additional accessories for this model looks impressive. Besides various components, it includes everything necessary to install the notebook in a car.

First Impressions






The notebook exterior is very impressive. It would blend in with a semi sci-fi action movie like Mission Impossible N+1. The case produces an impression of reliability and solidity. All connectors and removable devices are covered with rubber seals.







Rear view (left to right)

  • IrDA port
  • Power cable connector
  • 1 x serial port
  • Phone line connector
  • LAN port
  • VGA port
  • 1 x parallel port
  • Audio out
  • microphone jack






The left flank houses an optical drive (an additional battery may be installed into this bay) and a HDD bay.







Right flank (from left to right)

  • Main battery bay
  • PC Card slots
  • 2 x USB
  • PS/2






The front panel houses a block of indicators, a handle, a display lid latch, and a Kensington lock hole.



There is a stylus bay in the handle, in our case it was just covered with a stub.




The bottom contains a lid to the bay with a SIM-card (on the photo it's under a label), a handle to remove the device from Media Bay






a docking port, a memory bay, and speakers.

Ergonomics and usability






When you open this notebook, it also produces a comforting impression of a well-built device. Power button stroke is rather long, but that's not a problem here. But the long stroke of touch-pad buttons is really irritating. You cannot press these buttons quickly, without distracting from your work. In fact, pressing a touch-pad button becomes a task in itself, so you naturally try to avoid using them. Perhaps, such a long stroke is intended to avoid accidental presses in rugged conditions (for example, being jolted in a car), but it's really annoying in normal conditions. Fortunately, we had no gripes with the touch-pad itself and the keyboard. The only thing we didn't like in this keyboard layout is a small Enter.

Indicators are divided into two groups.




The front panel houses status lights for AC power and battery, battery charge, wireless and wireline network activity, wireless modem activity (if installed), and optical drive activity.



Notebook status, HDD, and Lock indicators are located above the keyboard on the right.

It should be noted that designers paid attention not only to operation in extreme conditions, but also to protection of data from unauthorized users. This notebook uses total encryption of its hard drive (including the boot sector) on the BIOS level. The encryption option must be enabled BEFORE formatting the hard drive.




After that, each time the notebook boots up, it prompts for password. If you forget the password, all your data is lost.

We haven't carried out survival tests, but one thing put us on guard: the battery bay lid would sometimes open on its own will. Of course, the seal will get ground in time, but at first you should pay attention to the covers.

Matrix

It was very interesting to see the effect of the protective coating on the display properties. Colors seemed to be faded compared to regular panels. You can look at the complete instrumental test results here, the main results are published in the table.

Response time, ms Parameter Mean Abmodality Angles of vision
min., % max., % CR Horiz. Vert.
on
16.3
black spot brightness
0.68 cd/m2
-11
8.3
10:1
90
85
off
6.2
white spot brightness
137 cd/m2
-8,5
7.2
5:1
120
100
total
22.5
contrast
203:1
-8
9.1

In other words, this panel offers good brightness and contrast, as well as high uniformity of white and black spot brightness. Black spot luminance is a tad too high, but it's not critical for this model, I think. But the angles of view are too small - that's the effect of the protective coating.

Warranty and Tech Support

One year warranty for the entire bundle.

Testing the notebook

You cannot expect record-breaking performance from a notebook with a low-voltage processor and integrated video, so we just publish the results.

BAPCo/MadOnion MobileMark 2002 Productivity workload (Performance rating) 155
BAPCo/MadOnion MobileMark 2002 Productivity workload (Average response time) 1.27 sec
BAPCo/MadOnion MobileMark 2002 Productivity workload (Battery life rating) 275 minutes
BAPCo/MadOnion MobileMark 2002 Reader workload (Battery life rating) 314 minutes

Battery life is more than 4.5 hours of active operations and more than 5 hours in reading mode - very good results. Imagine the results with an additional battery...

BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2002 165
BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2002 Office Productivity 125
BAPCo/MadOnion SysMark 2002 Internet Content Creation 218

They are not very high for these day, but absolutely natural for this CPU clock.

MadOnion 3DMark 2001
(32 bit color, 32 bit Texture Format, 24 bit Z-buffer depth, Frame Buffer — Double buffering, Software T&L, Game Performance)
Resolution640x480800x6001024x768
3DMark Result362828932053


Conclusions

It's certainly a notebook for a specific niche. You will hardly spend extra money just to show off an original design. It's quite possible that potential buyers have totally different criteria. Nevertheless, I think our readers will have interesting time getting acquainted with Getac M220.





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