Getac Inc., a rugged mobile computing manufacturer will round out its line of solutions later this month with its new MobileForce M220.

Currently the company offers a full-featured A770 rugged notebook weighing 14.3 pounds and its W130 mini ultra-lightweight rugged devicethat is stripped

of an optical drive and weighs 5.9 pounds.

“The new M series falls in between both of those products andit basically fuses our full-rugged products together,” Andy Ho, sales and marketing manager at Lake Forest, Calif.-based Getac.

Ho said resellers will be able to approach a broader range of customers, such as the road warriors in fields of sales, data collection, field service, utilities, construction, telecommunications, military, police, fire and emergency services.

Under the hood of the M220 is Intel’s 1.4 GHz Dothan LV Processor. The notebook features a versatile Bay 1 that can accommodate various optical drives such as a DVD, CD-ROM, and COMBO DVD/Floppy or CD/Floppy. For users looking to increase the battery life from the standard four hours of full-out, pedal to metal use, can swap a second battery into the bay for an extra two hours of power.

Also the removable hard disk drive bay design allows users to easily remove or swap the HDD, making it ideal for multiple users to share the laptop during different shifts within a workday.

The M220 meets the IP54 standard, making it resistant to dust and water jet spray from any directions that can occur during the worst weather conditions. It also meets military standards of 810F, and IEC’s extreme standards for durability and withstanding cold environments as low as –4º F to as hot as 130º F, dusty environments, moisture and vibration.

“The military standard calls for a three-foot drop on a wood plank and we actually drop all of our products from four feet onto a concrete floor,” Ho said. “That is one way we differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”

Weighing less than nine pounds, the M220 features a bright 14.1-inch TFT XGA LCD screen with 64MB of shared RAM.

“There is no other full-rugged product out there that has a 14.1 inch screen,” Ho said.

The company will show off the M220 at DistribuTECH in San Diego, Calif., from Jan. 25-27. According to Ho, resellers north of the border will see the M220 during the middle of February.

Back in October of last year, Getac signed its first distribution agreement with TTX to provide sales and service for its entire line of ruggedized products in Canada.

“What they offer us that is very important for the CanadianMarket is a service centre,” Ho said. “We have it all set up now and arelooking forward to a strong 2005 in the Canadian market.”

“Getac customers and resellers can now just deal with us, they don’t have to go elsewhere or certainly not have to go or even need to call across the border,” said Gil Broude, vice-president and general manager at TTX Canada. “They can call TTX and we will handle anything that is required.”

Canadian pricing for the M220 will start from $4,995.

“Traditionally with our A770 notebook resellers are making around 25 per cent margins, with the W130 they are making around 15 to 20 per cent and now we look at those same types of margins for the M220,” Ho said.

Newman Ho, business development manager, notebooks and mobile computing at TTX Canada, said resellers may be quick to jump at those kinds of margins, but did warn that they will need to know a few things to sell rugged notebooks properly.

“Resellers should first understand that this is not a commercial notebook business and they should associate an application with it,” Ho said. “They also have to understand the sales cycle, they have to be patient, and understand and ask the right questions for the different industries and end users.”

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