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I tested the rugged laptop used by the United States Air Force, and it’s mind-blowingly durable

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Getac B360 laptop in hand

Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The Getac B360 is one of the few laptops I’ve been able to get my hands on that can truly be described as “rugged”. This laptop weighs in at a hefty 5.1 pounds and measures 13.5 x 11.06 x 1.37 inches, making it one of the largest and heaviest laptops I’ve ever encountered. 

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But as it’s designed for some of the most demanding environments and careers, including for oil field workers and for use by the military, all of that extra weight means tons of protection against just about anything you can throw at this laptop (or whatever you can throw the laptop at).

The Getac B360 standing open on a table

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Getac B360

The Getac B360 is a truly rugged laptop for first responders, military personnel, oil field employees, or utility workers.

View at Getac

Every aspect of the Getac B360 has been carefully designed to not only protect delicate components and important data from damage, corruption, or theft, but to also offer practicality and ease of use in the field. Each of the I/O ports and every media drive (if needed) is outfitted with a lever-style cover to keep out dirt, insects, and water. Even the keyboard is designed to keep out moisture and debris. An integrated handle makes it easy to pick up the laptop and go, while a lid latch keeps the screen firmly closed while in storage or transit.

The Getac B360 standing open on a table

Taylor Clemons/ZDNET

The 13.3-inch display feels quite small, especially if you’re like me and used to a multi-monitor desktop setup, but it’s still incredibly versatile for working both inside and outdoors. The display can produce up to 1400 nits of brightness and features a protective film to prevent scratching, as well as touch input for faster and easier navigation of programs, web windows, and apps. With the touch of a button, you can drop the screen brightness to help increase the already mind-boggling battery life, as well as make the screen harder to read, so you can protect sensitive information from curious onlookers.

Managers and field foremen looking for a fleet of laptops for their crews can configure the Getac B360 with up to an Intel Core i7-1280P vPro CPU, with Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics or a discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, 64GB of RAM, and up to 4TB of storage. 

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But the customization doesn’t stop there. The B360 can be outfitted with everything you need to tackle problems in the field, from SD card readers and barcode scanners, to SIM card slots, multiple display output options, GPS and geo-location, fingerprint readers and facial recognition, and device-monitoring software. 

Close-up of a Getac B360 and Lenovo X1 Carbon side-by-side

Taylor Clemons//ZDNET

The model I was sent featured two batteries for almost 30 hours of power, an optical disc drive, and tons of input ports for connecting peripherals and external displays. However, you can forego the disc drive and add a third battery for up to three days of battery life — which is excellent for first responders, military personnel, and oil field workers who might not be able to get back to base to charge their laptops. 

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The keyboard feels nice and clicky, as well as responsive, although the red backlight isn’t as bright as I would like, especially in brighter environments. The font on each key is a sans-serif block text that can be read in just about every lighting environment, with or without backlighting.  

Real-world use cases

I got to sit down with Larry Nichols, senior product marketing manager at Getac, to talk about the B360 laptop, and how his company uses customer feedback to create units that are better suited for real-world environments. One of Getac’s largest contracts is with the United States Air Force, who uses Getac B360 laptops on aircraft carriers. 

Getac’s R&D team worked with flight-deck personnel to develop extra steel plating on the bottom of the laptop, which helps the device stand up to being quite literally kicked around during training exercises and combat situations. 

Close-up of the back of a Getac B360. The I/O port covers stand open

Taylor Clemons/Hisense/ZDNET

Nichols also assured me that “every system built goes through QA” before reaching the customer, which helps cut down the risk of malfunctioning or DOA units that can not only cost companies time and money, but could also cost lives in emergency situations. 

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Each assembly station at the Getac facility is monitored by a CCTV system to catch issues before they reach the customer, and each unit is unpacked, tested, and repacked to ensure that each B360 is built to-spec and is in perfect working order. 

ZDNET’s buying advice

The Getac B360 is a laptop that’s intended for high-intensity industrial, military, or emergency situations and personnel. All of its customization and protection comes at quite the cost. The configuration I was sent is valued at around $7,000, which is no chump change for most consumers, but “most consumers” is not the customer for the Getac to begin with.

Each Getac laptop is also covered by an out-of-the-box, three-year warranty, with options to extend that cover to four or five years. Getac has partnered with FedEx to expedite shipping for faulty units, reducing repair turnaround time to as little as three days. 

If you can’t be without your B360 for that period of time, they’ll send you a temporary replacement unit. And if you need to resolve the issue on-site, Getac will ship you basic replacement parts, such as extra keycaps or I/O port covers, or components like storage drives and batteries. 

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