DT Research WebDT 390 |
Lightweight mobile information appliance
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
DT Research, Inc., with headquarters in San Jose, California, develops and manufactures information appliances including tablet devices and digital signage solutions for vertical markets. For years, DT Research was clearly ahead of the times with its "web appliance" tablets, but ever since the introduction of the Apple iPad, tablets are hot and products like the DT Research WebDT tablets are getting renewed attention. As of late 2010, the market opportunity, in essence, is providing tablet functionality in an enclosure far more rugged than the iPad, and DT Research has been in just that market for years. The WebDT 390 was introduced in mid 2010, packing a lot of technology into a handy tablet with a wide-format display.
When you look at the specs of the WebDT 390, you essentially see an industrial market netbook without a keyboard. The device has the 8.9-inch 1024 x 600 pixel display seen in tens of millions of second gen commercial netbooks, but there's an outdoor-viewable option, and the device uses resistive touch instead of the projected-capacitive touch popularized by the iPhone and iPad (that's because capacitive cannot handle gloves, and gloves are often a fact of life on the job). Under the hood of the WebDT 390 sits an Intel Atom chip, but it's the the Atom Z530 favored for embedded and industrial applications. And, of course, the WebDT is entirely more rugged than any commercial tablet.
Measuring 10 x 7.7 x 1.25 inches and weighing about 2.5 pounds, the WebDT is heftier than an iPad, but smaller and much lighter than full-size vertical market tablets. However, like many larger industrial tablets, the WebDT 390 can be equipped with a variety of data capture options. Depending on your needs, the device may include a magnetic card stripe reader, a 1D/2D omnidirectional Intermec imager, a RFID reader, a Smart Card reader, and also a 3-megapixel autofocus camera. On the wireless communications side, the WebDT 390 is technologically state-of-the-art as well: a Gobi 2000 card that allows using virtually any network out there is available (and includes GPS for positioning and navigation as well).
With this latest WebDT model, DT Research offers a lightweight, ruggedized tablet computer suitable for a large variety of field service, warehousing, retail and other applications. It's more rugged netbook than rugged iPad, and those who've come to expect the effortless operation of a capacitive touch screen may balk at having to use a stylus with Microsoft Windows, but for now that combination still remains the supported standard in numerous IT operations worldwide.
How do the tablets in DT Research's current tablet lineup differ? They mostly use the same or very similar electronics, but display sizes (7 to 10.4 inches), aspect ratios (standard 4:3 or wide), and resolutions (800 x 480 to 1024 x 768) vary. Most are in the 2-3 pound range, All offer good protection via large rubber bumpers, but ruggedness specs vary, as does the availability of options such as RFID, mobile broadband, cameras, etc. For good overview of the DT Research lineup, see the DT Research tablet summary, their very informative page on optional features and technologies, and their handy comparison feature.