GammaTech's Durabook D15TS Semi-Rugged Laptop Crumbles Under Pressure

Well equipped unit performs fine as a standard laptop, but fails the spill test.

by / September 9, 2008

The fast-loading Durabook D15TS semi-rugged laptop contains an Intel Core 2 Duo T7700 Processor at 2.4 GHz, 1.99 GB RAM and a generous 160 GB hard drive. The laptop includes a combo DVD+CD-RW drive, which lets you view DVDs and write to a CD±R or CD-RW disc. The lithium-ion battery provides four hours of power. The GenesysLogic USB 2.0 PC Web cam did a fine job of taking snapshots. And there's a slew of drives: SIM card drive, SD MS/Pro and MMS drive. I enjoyed the glossy 1280x800 resolution, 15.4-inch screen.

The "conveniently located audio control knob" is actually a few function keys that let you lower and mute the speaker volume. The speaker sound itself wasn't too shabby.

I received drop, spill and vibration test guidelines, along with instructions to call a customer service rep before performing the tests.

The first drop test failed because I was confused by the test guidelines and neglected to turn the machine off before I dropped it. This will kill the hard drive. Trust me. The second machine performed well after I dropped it on each side onto 2 inches of plywood per the test guidelines. The battery popped out of the laptop, but the unit worked fine.

The spill test involved spilling 100 cc of water directly onto the keyboard. I held the laptop level over a sink and let the water drain directly through the bottom as instructed. I wiped up the excess water with my supply of towels and used a hair dryer to "vaporize leftover water." The laptop fired up fine just after the test, but the next day, the keyboard stopped working. The water had leaked around the space bar and shorted out the keyboard. I ended up plugging in a keyboard via a USB port to use the laptop again. The built-in mouse pad with two buttons and scrolling buttons continued working without a problem.

As I finished the review, the peripheral keyboard started acting up. Characters kept repeating as if I were holding a key down. I tried all three USB ports. I tried a different keyboard in case that was the problem, but to no avail. I could no longer even log on to the computer. After Control-Alt-Delete, the login screen would flash briefly, but certainly not long enough for me to type a single character. I'd had high hopes for this machine ...

The laptop is excellent as a standard machine with rubber corners to help in the event of a fall, but the semi-rugged claims are exaggerated. The company offered to send me a third laptop to test, but I declined. It's a great laptop - just don't expect to drop it or spill anything on the keyboard without potentially dire consequences.


  • Hard drive: 40/60/80/100/120/160 GB SATA 150
  • CPU: Intel Centrino Duo mobile technology
  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor (4 MB L2 Cache, 667 MHZ FSB)
  • Intel Santa Rosa Refresh, 45 mm Penryn Ready
  • RAM: Two DDR II SODIMM Slots 256/512/1024/2048 MB (Max. 4 GB)
  • Screen: 1280x800 resolution 15.4-inch WXGA LCD display
  • Keyboard: Spill-resistant 85-key
  • CD-ROM: DVD-CDRW Combo or DVD+RW
  • Wireless: Built-in 802.11 a/b/g; 802.11 AGNmodule
  • Int. Ethernet: 10/100/1000BaseT
  • USB 2.0: Three
  • Weight: about 6.5 pounds
  • Magnesium alloy top and bottom case
  • Six-cell lithium-ion battery lasts four hours.
  • Optional Bluetooth
  • Price $1,000

Rating .5 out of 5


Miriam Jones Chief Copy Editor
Platforms & Programs