Review: GammaTech Durabook D15RS Rugged Notebook

The sun is out and the temperature is rising, which can only mean one thing: It’s time to pulverize, er…”test” some rugged gadgets. GammaTech was the first to answer the call with the durable D15RS notebook. The theme of this armored laptop was clear at the unboxing — speedy performance cocooned in top-notch protection.

At first glance it’s the sturdy magnesium alloy chassis and rubber accents that lend the D15RP its overall hard knock charm. Don’t be fooled though – there’s even more going on beneath the surface. With both its 14.4 inch screen and 160 GB hard drive stabilized by a rubber coating, the D15RS is begging for constant bumps, drops, and bone cracking spills. So, what does this add up to in Gadgetlab shenanigans? Let me put it this way – the D15RS repeatedly took Mike Tyson-esque sucker punches while ripping (quasi-legal) DVDs with minimal errors.

In terms of waterproofing and dustproofing, it’s a little more of a mixed bag. Exposed VGA, USB, and serial ports easily keep this from being a true all weather machine. However, the C-Face keyboard ends up being the true boon for the accident prone. From my experience, toppling my morning Irish coffee (or two) on the no-frills keyboard didn’t even phase the D15RS. The delicious mix of coffee and liquid courage merely seeped through and drained from the bottom. All it took was one hot minute with the blowdryer and it was ready for action again.

Of course, there’s more to the D15RS than feats of endurance. It’s a surprisingly capable workhorse in terms of processing power. The combination of a 2.4 GHz Intel Core Duo processor and 2GB of RAM proved enough muscle for mission critical applications and then some. However, GammaTech went all twinkle toes in the graphics department. The integrated card was fine with basic tasks like web video, but games like Crysis and Call of Duty 4 looked more like FPS-themed slide shows.

Honestly, the trifecta of a notebook that can take a beating, remain speedy, and hold it down in the GPU department is a bit of a pipedream (for now). But in the meantime, the D15RS’ manages to get two thirds of the equation right, which is still impressive. Will the D15RS make a cameo at your next Red Bull fueled LAN-stravaganza? Probably not. But for dependable performance and durability in harsh (or otherwise accident prone) environments, it’s a sensible choice.

  • RAM Size: 2 GB
  • Clock Rate: 2.4 GHz
  • Hard Drive Size: 160 GB
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