Handheld unveils Algiz XRW rugged netbook

Swedish manufacturer Handheld has announced its latest rugged laptop, which can certainly take a pounding - but do the specifications match the armour?

The Algiz XRW is designed to be to netbooks what the Challenger Tank is to transportation: a 10.1-inch rugged marvel designed to go where normal netbooks fear to tread - and one that takes Windows 7 Ultimate along for the ride.

Accordingly, it's equipped with features like a sunlight-readable display, a 64GB shock-proof solid-state drive, and IP65 certification against dust and water ingress. While that doesn't make it waterproof, it certainly makes it usable in the rain and means it should survive the occasional drop in a muddy puddle.

In fact, Handheld has had to do just that. In order to achieve its MIL-STD-810F ruggedness rating, without which the company has no chance of securing those all-important government and military contracts, it has to be proven to survive repeated drops from a height of 1.2 metres. The Algiz XRW is also rated for temperatures between -21°C to 70°C - although we here at THINQ wouldn't advise trying to use it for long at either of those extremes, if only for the sake of your fingers.

The keyboard and touchpad are both fully sealed, meaning coffee-spill problems are a thing of the past, and feature in-built LED lighting for use at night. The low-powered components mean that the integrated battery gets a pretty impressive eight hours per charge, although that may dip slightly if you choose to install the optional 3G modem.

The main problem with rugged systems is that they often sacrifice performance for hardiness - but it looks like Handheld has dodged that particular bullet, with specifications that make other netbooks seem ancient in comparison. While the 2GHz Intel Atom processor and 2GB of DDR2 RAM won't give your average notebook cause for concern, they are impressive in a device of its size - as are the integrated two-megapixel autofocus camera and in-built Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS radios.

There always has to be a catch, of course, and with rugged systems that's usually the price. It's hard to tell how much of a bargain, or otherwise, the Algiz XRW will be, as Handheld have opted not to offer a suggested retail price - but it's almost certainly a case of 'if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

The Algiz XRW is due to ship to customers in December, but volume production isn't likely to start until early next year.