Latest gen of Unitech's rugged multi-function handheld computer more powerful and with full VGA
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
The Unitech PA968II continues the tradition of the company's PA966/967/968 models with a technologically updated version. As before, customers can specify a 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. A number of tech updates, however, make the PA968II much more pleasant to use than its predecessors.
On the hardware side, the PA968II has been upgraded from a 520MHz Marvel PXA270 processor to the significantly more powerful 806MHz PXA320. RAM and Flash have doubled to 256MB and 512MB, respectively. And perhaps most importantly, while the display remains the same 3.5-inch size, resolution has quadrupled from 240 x 320 pixel QVGA to full 480 x 640 pixel VGA. That means a much sharper, crisper display, especially for GPS and other advanced applications. As for looks, they haven't changed, although Unitech says it's an all-new aluminum-magnesium alloys design.
On the software side, the new gen uses Windows Mobile 6.5.3 instead of the much more arcane Windows CE 5.0. Each has its place, but the new version is considerably more user-friendly and much easier to use and navigate.
The device can be ordered with a either a 1D laser scanner or a 1D/2D imager. There is a 2MP color camera, SiRFstarIII GPS, Bluetooth V2.1, Cisco-certified 801.11b/g WiFi, and 5-band 3.5G mobile broadband, all depending on customer and application requirements.
The PA968II can also be ordered with either one of two very different keypads. The standard 22-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. And the two kepads are swappable.
The PA968II measures 3.5 x 7.85 x 1.7 inches and weighs a bit over a pound including a powerful 10-hour battery. The device carries an IP65 ingress protection rating, can handle 5-foot drops, and operate in a 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit temperature range.
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.