If you are serious about security and want a magnesium-block notebook thieves can’t even boot, much less hack into without an encrypted key, one California-based manufacturer has a device you should see.

(Photo courtesy of Getac, Inc.

Getac Inc., Lake Forest, recently added pre-boot password protection to its MobileForce M220 laptop, a product introduced in January. The protection keeps unauthorized users from launching the operating system. The hard drive would seem to be unformatted if it were stolen and installed in another machine.

The $4,000 M220 has other hardened and security-related features as well. It meets military specifications for "ruggedized" construction. It, like other ruggedized devices, can be dropped 3 ft to a steel or concrete floor while operating and not be harmed. But its expansion bays are standouts. In addition to

a variety of swappable DVD and CD drives, it also has a two swappable hard disk drives of up to 80 gigabites each. The feature lets different users share a running laptop, but take their drives with them. They also can transfer quickly to another machine if the first goes down. Its conventional features, such as processor speed, memory, battery life and connectivity are competitive with other top-of-the-line laptop computers.

Andy Ho, Getac’s marketing manager, says the company has been building rugged devices since 1987. He says costs have been dropping even while features once only found in military units are becoming commercially available.