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US Navy SEALs buy twin-screen laptops, refuse Vista

Blu-Ray drive essential military kit, seemingly

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You know how it is. You're a power user, an alpha nerd. You just aren't happy without multiple screens - a puny one-screen desktop isn't enough for the multiple video feeds, apps and so forth that are essential to your working life.

But that's too bad, because you are also a deadly US Navy SEAL supertrooper. Your video feeds aren't CNN - well, maybe some of them are actually - they're live video from surveillance drones prowling overhead, or from robothopter bat-bugs you have sent into the bad guys' stronghold. You're normally working up to your chest in the snows of the Hindu Kush or the stinking mud of the Euphrates delta, generally resting your ruggedised laptop on the dead body of a terrorist you have just killed in total silence with no more than a piece of string, using a little known Oriental grappling technique.

So no multiple screens for you - or at least, not until now. Because now the era of the waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, dual screen laptop has dawned.

The machine in this case is a ruggedised version of the G400 dual-screen machine from Alaskan startup gScreen, which says the G400 is "the first true dual-screen laptop with identical 15-inch LED backlit displays", though others might dispute that. The G400 isn't actually on sale yet - customers can reserve one from the 25th.

Meanwhile, however, certain privileged customers are jumping the queue. Last week, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 based at Little Creek, Virginia issued a notice of intent to award a small-biz set aside contract for "Titan M1 Dual screen Laptop Workstations". The gScreen corporate blog confirms that "this product is being built specifically to specs requested by the US NAVY for extreme environments".

Apart from dual displays, the frogman-commando IT types will get an Intel CORE 2 Quad QX9300 processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive and standard MIL-STD 810F ruggedisation. The SEALs have also specified dual GeForce 8600M graphics cards, Blu-Ray drive, Gigabit networking, WiFi and Bluetooth. It seems they're no fans of Vista - the machines are to come with Windows XP Pro.

It does occur that machines of this sort would also be capable of other than strictly work-related tasks. ®

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