Unitech initially launched the PA690 mobile computer in July 2011 as a rugged outside-the-four-walls device designed to assist mobile workforces in today's competitive business environment. The device received a technology refresh in 2014, signified by a model name change to PA692. Equipped with a large and exceptionally sharp sunlight-readable display and numerous data collection options and wireless communication options, the PA692 offers field-based workers an attractive handheld platform in a compact, durable and ergonomic form factor.
On the hardware perspective, the PA692 is based on the 1GHz version of the Texas Instruments AM3715 processor, an ARM Cortex-A8 chip with a PowerVR graphics accelerator. The AM3715 is a mature, proven and quite popular chip. There's 512MB of RAM and 512MB of NAND Flash needed to run Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 Professional or Classic. Storage can be augmented via a microSDHC Card slot. The standard battery packs 8.14 watt-hours, but we suggest the optional 14.8 watt-hour extended battery.
The PA692's 3.8-inch transflective display offers 480 x 800 pixel resolution — higher than virtually all legacy Windows CE/Mobile handhelds. This means a sharper image and more screen real estate for complex applications than is usually available in this class. The PA692 also has a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with flash that can also record VGA MPEG-4 video.
The 692 can also be ordered with either one of two very different keypads. The standard 26-key arrangement includes the usual function keys and numeric keypad. An also available 44-key keypad includes numeric, alpha and function keys. It looks like a Blackberry-style thumb-type keyboard with a standard QWERTY layout. Each version has four navigation keys, a scan key, phone pickup and hangup keys, and the usual Windows Embedded Handheld auxiliary keys.
The device is hugely configurable for data collection tasks. Customers can go with the standard 1D laser scanner (UPC-A/E, EAN-8/13, Codabar, Code 39, Code 39 full ASCI, Code 93, Code 32, Interleaved & Std. 2 of 5, EAN 128, Code 11, Delta, MSI/Plessey, Code 128, and Toshiba), or with an optional 2D imager (Aztec, Codablock F, Code 49, Datamatrix, EAN-UCC, composite, Maxicode, Micro PDF417, PDF 417, QR code, Tcif lonked C39). Also available is a 13.56MHz RFID reader with ISO15693, ISO14443A and ISO14443B tag support. For location based services there is a u-blox 6 high-performance GPS chipset that also supports the European GALILEO satellite system.
On the wireless communication side, there's 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 2.1 with enhanced data rate, as well 3.75G WWAN for wide area cellular voice and data connections. And there are dual external antennas for best possible WWAN and WLAN wireless connectivity and performance.
For a technologically up-to-date legacy device with good resolution and a full keyboard, the PA692 is quite compact, measuring 2.9 x 7 x 1.6 inches, and weighing under 14 ounces with the standard battery. The design seems ergonomic with emphasis on making it easy to hold and operate.
The PA692's legacy Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 operating system has continued to be the platform of choice for many vertical market and industrial handhelds years beyond its expected lifespan. That's because Microsoft never provided an attractive successor, though with the emergence of Windows 10 and its mobile variants, this is now changing. As is, there is still plenty of Windows Mobile business software out there, as well as all the application development expertise, software tools, and leverage that comes from fitting right into numerous corporate IT systems.
As far as ruggedness goes, the Unitech PA692 delivers as well. 5-foot drop spec, IP65 sealing where the "6" means the device is fully dustproof, and the "5" that it can handle low pressure water jets from all directions. There's also a wide 14 to 122 degree Fahrenheit operating temperature range, and presumably a slew of other tests and certifications.
The PA692 was, and is, a nice piece of hardware that combines an awful lot of functionality, and remains a strong contender for anyone seeking a combination of rugged mobile computer, industrial smartphone, and data capture device.
Unitech America is a subsidiary of Taiwanese automatic data collection specialist Unitech, founded in 1979. They are also one of the largest manufacturer of rugged PDAs.