The brief for the Iridium Durabook (a.k.a. the Hardbook when sold via Rock) was as follows; a laptop designed to be rugged and waterproof, yet attractive enough to sit in a business environment. It’s managed to succeed on all parts of the brief. The Durabook not only looks good but it’s also got all the power and functionality a business user could want.
The ruggedness and waterproofing are built-in from scratch. The case and lid are made from magnesium alloy, which is claimed to be twenty times stronger than the ABS plastics used in regular laptops. Internally the hard drive is encased in rubberised foam and the screen is also surrounded by the same foam. It’s supposedly strong enough to survive a drop of 29 inches, though we haven’t tested that…
In addition the keyboard is resistant to spillages and conforms to European Ruggedised Equipment Standard IP31.3. However, if it does go wrong then as an extra precaution the Durabook comes as standard with a three year collect and return warranty covering both parts and labour.
The hardware specification should be more than enough for most business users. There’s an excellent bright and sharp 15-inch screen that is capable of 1,400 x 1,050 resolution, a 1.73GHz Pentium M740 processor, a 60GB hard drive and a DVD writer. In addition it has three USB 2.0 ports, a single mini-FireWire port, S-Video output and single Type II PC Card slot. Connectivity includes built-in WiFi, a 56Kbps modem and Gigabit Ethernet. And it manages to fit all of that into a 330mm x 297mm x 40mm footprint weighing in at just 3.2Kg.
If you do drop it there’s also a special lock on the DVD drive that stops the door shooting open and depositing your disc onto the floor. However it was never used in our tests, as the button to lock and release the drawer was so recessed that it was practically impossible to access. In addition, it was hard to locate the DVD eject button in low-light conditions.
In use the Durabook was fairly good to work with. In tests the battery life came in at a very respectable five hours for basic reading, which translated into a good four hours when used actively. But the keyboard wasn’t the best to type on, and the touchpad needed to be supplemented with an external mouse if you were going to get any real work done.
The only real downside, though, is the sound quality from the internal speakers, which was tinny, although there’s a Vinyl Audio application that enhanced the sound a little. The software package includes Roxio Creator 7, Bullguard Antivirus software, and Microsoft Works 8.
Contact: 08702 20 22 20