Note: On December 10, 2012, Intermec announced that it will be acquired by Honeywell. [See Intermec press release]
The Intermec CK32IS was especially designed as an intrinsically safe mobile computer, and that is reflected in its name. What does "intrinsically safe" mean?
In short, an intriniscally safe piece of equipment won't ignite flammable gases. ISA-RP12-6 defines intrinsically safe equipment as "equipment and wiring which is incapable of releasing sufficient electrical or thermal energy under normal or abnormal conditions to cause ignition of a specific hazardous atmospheric mixture in its most easily ignited concentration." So a computer that is intrinsically safe can be operated in potentially flammable areas without posing a threat. Also see RuggedPCReview secton on Intrinsic Safety.
The CK32 is a moden "flashlight-style handheld computer running Windows Mobile 5.0 on a Marvell PXA270 processor. It has 128MB of RAM and 64MB of non-volatile Flash, and there is an embedded SD Card slot. It's 9.45 inches long, 2.8 inches wide where you hold it, and about two inches thick. It weighs 2.3 pounds, so it is not a small or light piece of equipment, especially when you add the optional pistol grip handle. The 3.5-inch transflective display offers 240 x 320 pixel resolution. The battery packs 18 watt-hours and is user-replaceable. No battery life spec is given, but we suspect it should last a shift. The CK32IS comes either with a 42-key or 56-key keypad with different overlay configurations.
Standard communication consists of LAN, a USB client, Bluetooth, and 802.11b/g WiFi. There is also an integrated Linerar Imager.
The CK32 was designed to withstand severe punishment so it can be operated in extreme enviornments. The operating temperature range is from -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. It can survive multiple 5-foot drops to concrete. It is vibration and shock tested and carries an impressive IP67 ingress protection rating (totally protected against dust, and protected even against immersion in water). It also carries Hazardous Locations Certifications applying to various countries where the CK32 may be used. In fact, according to Intermec, this machine carries the most extensive list of global hazardous envionmental ratings of any rugged computer, and that it is the only mobile computer to achieve Zone 0 certification, which designates "double fault" safety in environments in which flammable gases are always present under normal operating conditions.
All this means that the CK32IS is suitable for workers in the chemical, oil and gas and pharmaceutical industries.
Update January 2011: though introduced several years ago, the intrinsically safe CK32 remains on Intermec's roster of active products. It'll likely eventually be replaced by an intrinsically safe version of the 70 Series introduced in January of 2011, but as of this update, the CK32's technology, while a bit dated, is not obsolete by any means.