Asus has tried its hand at small and light systems with the U1F and U2E so it's only logical (well, maybe not) that it next try its hand at rugged laptops - enter the B51E. We usually take it as given that if you want a rugged, or even semi-rugged, notebook the Panasonic ToughBook line is the one to look at, so what is Asus offering that might change that assumption?
Looking at the video above, it certainly seems like Asus has thought things through. A magnesium alloy chassis, rubber-padded edges and a high-strength protective film are all touted as contributing towards its damage-resistance. The chassis also has a sponge protection system in which the hard drive is floated to protect it from drops - which can be from up to 75cm (tabletop height).
Waterproofing is also featured, with a drainage path under the keyboard. Asus says up to 120ml of liquid can be poured into the B51E without killing it, which should be good enough for anyone with a normal sized coffee mug.
Elsewhere the specs are a pretty standard affair for an Intel-based notebook, so here's a charmingly quaint bulleted list:
* Intel® Core™2 Duo Processor T8300/T8100/T5850/T5750
* Mobile Intel® GM965 Chipset, Intel Int. GMA X3100 Gfx
* Intel® PRO/Wireless 3945ABG/4965ABGN Network Connection
* Genuine Windows® Vista Business
* RAM DDR2 667MHz, up to 4GB (2 slots)
* SATA HDD up to 320GB & ODD S-Multi
* Built-in webcam 1.3M pixel (Optional); Bluetooth 2.0+ EDR (Optional)
* 36.5cm (W) x 27.3cm (D) x 3.82 cm (H), 3.1KG (with 8 cell battery)
It remains to be seen whether Asus will be able to compete with the rugged-ness (so to speak) of the ToughBooks. Even so, if the price is right, a fair few customers could well be tempted anyway.