Flexible data collection handheld with keyboard with GPS, scanner, wireless, camera, fingerprint reader options
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
The Unitech PA968 continues the tradition of the company's PA966/967 models with a technologically more advanced model that can also include laser scanners, InstantFix GPS, a camera, a fingerprint reader, and 3.5G wireless (including HSDPA) so that the device can transmit collected field data to a server, thus enabling tracking and tracing whenever it may be required.
The PA968 is a Windows CE 5.0-based handheld computer using the 520MHz Marvell PXA270 processor. It has 128MB of RAM and 320MB of Flash. The device is hugely configurable are can be ordered with a numerous permutations of 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), 2D imager (about 3 dozen 1D/2D codes), 2MP color camera, fingerprint reader, GPS, Bluetooth and GPRS, all depending on customer and application requirements.
The PA968 can also be ordered with either one of two very different keypads. The standard 24-key arrangement includes the usual function keys and numeric keypad. An also available 43-key keypad includes numeric, alpha and function keys. Though it looks like a QWERTY Blackberry-style keyboard, the keys are actually arranged alphabetically. There is also a 4-way navigation pad, and Esc and Enter keys. A special alpha key lets users easily toggle between input types.
The PA968 measures 3.5 x 7.85 x 1.7 inches and weighs a bit over a pound including a powerful 10-hour battery. The backlit 3.5-inch touchscreen display has the standard 240 x 320 resolution. The device carries an IP65 ingress protection rating, can handle 5-foot drops, and operate in a 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit temperature range.
As of July 2009, Unitech also offers the PA968 with a wireless data plan through RACO Wireless, a provider of wireless data (via T-Mobile) to the M2M and telemetry industry.
Unitech America is a subsidiary of Taiwanese automatic data collection specialist Unitech, founded in 1979. They are also the third-largest worldwide manufacturer of rugged PDAs.