Two very different species of laptop

Thursday 17th January 2008
MacBook Air

News of the sale of a thousand ruggedised laptops has drawn good business for General Dynamics Itronix equipment and reseller Telos Corp, but the launch of MacBook Air showing cult elegance, raised queries from heat spreaders and batteries to even the processor.

The Air Force recently ordered nearly a thousand ruggedised laptop computers from Telos Corp for use in
aircraft maintenance operations. The Air Force Reserve Command and the Air Force Special Operations Command placed task orders worth $4.3 million for the laptop PCs through Network Centric Solutions and a Network Enterprise Technology Command contract.

The orders call for Telos to resell 585 General Dynamics Itronix Corp ruggedised laptop PCs to the Air Force Reserve Command for use at 18 sites in the United States and 289 laptops to the Air Force Special Operations Command for use at four of its sites: Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.; Kadena Air Base, Japan; and RAF Mildenhall, England.

Aircraft maintenance technicians on flight lines and in hangars will use the laptop PCs, which will be linked to bases’ networks via a secure wireless local-area network that Telos designed and installed, according to the company.

It remains to be seen if the wafer thin Mac Book Air, a full-size, backlit keyboard and 13.3-inch widescreen display will secure those sorts of orders.  On the inside it boasts an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of memory and amazing wireless capabilities and cost $1,799 when it goes on sale in two weeks, but with no built-in optical drive, though an external drive can be bought for $99.

Writing on, Jon Stokes queried if the Air could sport a Penryn mobile processor, noting that the new form concern must be cooling and the device appears to have no room for a real heatsink (much less a fan), components being very tightly packed. A 45nm processor he argues, would be ideal, since it isn't hard to imagine that it would fare quite well at 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz with nothing but a heat spreader that's hooked to the case. But the big question is 'Will the new 45nm mobile parts be available in volume in "two weeks"?'


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