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Mildef RW-11 Rugged Laptop Review

Please note that probably the only thing that is green about this is the colour of the device(!), but we have not seen any reviews for this model available elsewhere on the internet.

However, from a sustainability point of view, parts for the device are guaranteed to be available for 5 years after End-Of-Sale.

This device was bought after testing the Getac X500 for a month, so there will be several comparisions with that model.

The business case for looking at these types of devices included the following reasons:

  • Water-resistant so device can be used outside without fear of shock / malfunction during wet weather
  • Sunlight-readable display for use outside
  • Physical serial port for use with network equipment (USB converters are not reliable in our opinion)
  • Physical RJ45 NIC port with no moving parts
  • Choice of storage options
  • Wide range of connectivity options

The following Mildef RW-11 specification was tested:

  • 16Gb RAM
  • 4 x 2.5" SATA HD bays
  • 2 x Serial (configurable as RS-232, RS-423, RS-485) ports
  • 2nd Gigabit NIC
  • WiFi
  • Bluetooth
  • 2nd battery bay
  • Multi-touch touchpad
  • 83-key keyboard
  • Geforce GTX 950M
  • 800nits Screen
  • 12-36V PSU option
There is physical space in the case for 2 more serial ports, which would have been unneccessary for our needs. Mildef was asked if other ports could be requested instead, eg 2 more USB ports.They said this would be possible, but at an extra cost of £2000 due to the extra design and milling required. There are two colour choices - green and black, and two choices of UK keyboard - 83 or 87 key. Picture above on right shows 87-key variant.
 

Usage Notes

83 and 87 key keyboard variants, top US, bottom SwedishThis device has now been in use for 7 months with Ubuntu 19.10 as the main OS.

Boot speeds are good, and battery life ranges between 3-5 hours depending on CPU usage ans screen brightness.

There are 2 fans, even at 100% CPU, the fan does not activate often, but the base of the unit does get extremely warm. When using the FAHClient and the GPU at 100%, the GPU fan does run constantly, which is no surprise.

The (UK) 83 key keyboard is personally preferable, as the 87 key keyboard has a very small Enter key, and the "\" is in an odd position (like some newer HP laptop keyboards)

 

Pros:

  • Wide range of options (similar to the Getac X500)
  • Thinner and slightly smaller than the Getac X500, and has rubber bumpers that are not as pronounced as the Getac X500, which makes it easier to put in and get out of bags.
  • Port covers are easier to open and close than the Getac X500
  • Handle is fabric rather than plastic or metal, so takes up less room. Longevity cannot be confirmed yet, but a spare is included in the box
  • Further customisation possible (at a price)
  • Can be supplied without HD or OS
  • 12-36V PSU option available, meaning that it could be used directly connected to a vehicle battery, with the right cable - no official car adaptor available, but connectors (AMPHENOL 62GB 16F 10 02SN) can be bought)
  • Linux is a supported OS, supplier was willing to allow us to install our image onto a test laptop during our visit to the warehouse
  • Optical drive available instead of 3rd and 4th HD and 2nd battery
  • Keyboard is good, and similar in feel to the Getac X500
  • Helpful staff, and being UK-based we could visit the offices to see this and other equipment
  • The screen is perfectly readable in direct summer sun. The Getac X500 equivalent was not tested in the same environment
  • PSU uses standard C13/C14 lead instead of the more common C5/C6 connector on most laptops

Cons:

  • Unlike standard makes (eg, Dell or HP), no configurator is available, so choosing options that do not conflict with other options can be a frustrating process of back-and-forward emails with the local supplier
  • PSU is surprisingly large and heavy, and adds ~1Kg to the overall weight
  • RAM upgrades need to be performed by Mildef themselves, presumably to ensure the ingress protection rating
  • Keyboard backlight would have been more sensible to be red in colour (like the Getac X500) rather than white
  • Turning on the keyboard backlight is Fn+F10, which isn't an easy combination to find in the dark, unlike Lenovo laptops where it is Fn+Space
  • Could not get the Display Port output to work under Ubuntu Linux (could be a driver problem, even though both closed source nvidia and intel drivers were tested)
  • Right-hand side battery stopped charging. Mildef support said to swap the batteries over to the alternate bays, which did fix the problem, but no explanation was given to why this might have happened
  • Built in speakers aren't particularly loud
  • Multi-touch (capacitive) touchpad does not work very well in the rain (that's why a resisitive touchpad is available as an option)