NEC launched its latest laptop PC on Tuesday with a splash. A bottle of water was poured over the computer while it was operating to demonstrate its toughness to harsh environmental conditions.The "Shield Pro" FC-N21S laptop is rated to IP54, an environmental protection rating developed by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization. IP54 signifies that the machine is protected against ingress of dust at levels that would harm operation and also against splashes of water from all directions.It can also be dropped from waist height onto a hard surface and survive, as NEC demonstrated at a Tokyo news conference. NEC guarantees the machine will be safe when dropped as long as it\u2019s a drop of fewer than 90 centimeters, the machine is switched off and the lid folded down.The computer has a 12.1-inch touch panel LED-backlit screen and is a convertible-type laptop, which means the screen can be flipped around and folded down on the keyboard so that it resembles a tablet PC. At its heart is an Intel Core Solo processor running at 1.2GHz. NEC looked at using a Core Duo processor, but the desire to keep the PC fanless meant that it wasn\u2019t possible to use a more powerful chip because of the amounts of heat that it would generate.Users can choose between a 60GB Serial ATA or 40GB Ultra ATA hard-disk drive. Users also get to choose between Windows XP Professional or Linux as the operating system.The machine will go on sale in Japan in January for between 250,000 yen\u00a0and 300,000\u00a0yen\u00a0(US$2,165 and $2,600). NEC is still considering its international sales plans.In March, several new models will be launched, including a laptop that can stand up to a wider range of temperatures than the standard model. It will be able to operate at between minus-20 degrees and 50 degrees Celsius. A model with an 8GB solid state disk made up of flash memory chips will also be available.-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)Related Links:\n\nTop 4 Laptop Makers Shun Wireless Wait\n\nBrazil Receives OLPC \u2018$100 \u2018Laptops\u2019\n\nHow to Minimize the Impact of Laptop TheftCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.