Systemax Assault Ruggedized Notebook

Sometimes, you just need a laptop with a little more meat on its bones. The trend toward making laptops smaller, lighter and faster works well for the business traveler who only needs to pop his laptop open in airports and hotel rooms, but for the construction worker working off of a concrete slab 30 stories up, “smaller and lighter” doesn’t have the same appeal.

For guys like him, there are rugged laptops. With beefed-up cases, shock-mounted hard drives, bright screens and other modifications, rugged laptops can handle more extreme conditions than your average boardroom warrior would find himself in. But the trouble is, many of these laptops are only available through large-scale orders from commercial, industrial and government buyers. You may end up with one if you find yourself on a construction site or in a convoy moving through Iraq, but the companies that make them just don’t market them or sell them to the average Joe, and those that do charge a hefty premium for the added toughness.

Fortunately, there are exceptions. The Systemax Assault Ruggedized Notebook can not only be ordered by individuals, it can also be customized with every order, and has a price just shy of a grand – $999. Compare that with other consumer-level rugged notebooks, such as Panasonic’s semi-rugged Toughbooks that run just under $2,000, and the Systemax might just be practical for an ordinary laptop user who’s a bit of clutz.

Systemax Assault
Image Courtesy of Systemax

Unlike some of the more extreme laptops meant for military and police use, the Systemax Assault isn’t a laptop built in shell worthy of a tank, but it does come with plenty of features that allow it to go above and beyond the call of duty. For instance, a magnesium alloy case and anti-shock design will come in handy when your precariously placed laptop slips onto the floor. Likewise, a spill-proof keyboard, touchpad and external buttons will keep your morning cup of coffee from ruining your day when it tips over onto your computer.

Beyond its ramped-up exterior, the Assault is more or less an average laptop – but that “more or less” all depends on what you put in it. In its base $999 form, the Assault runs Windows XP Home on a 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 512MB of DDR2 memory and a 60GB hard drive. Of course, you can also order it with Windows Vista Ultimate, a 2.33GHz processor, 2GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive and a slew of other accessories plus an extended warranty – but you’ll drop $2,329.94 on the fully loaded machine.

All Assault models use an Intel GMA 950 graphics accelerator to drive a 14.1-inch XGA LCD. With a resolution of 1024 x 768, nothing you put on this laptop’s screen is going to drop any jaws, but fewer pixels to draw may make performance more acceptable in gaming applications, even with somewhat lackluster graphics hardware under the hood. A four-in-one memory card reader and built-in Wi-Fi are standard.

All things considered, the Systemax’s enhanced durability makes it a unique laptop at its price point. Whether you plan on computing in the great outdoors or just anticipate a fall here and there, the Systemax Assault may be worth looking into.