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Ultra-light semi-rugged UMPC
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

Taiwan-based Samwell Group is a global technology solutions provider concentrating on the convergence of Internet, computing, and telecom technologies and software applications. "RUGGEDBOOK" is Samwell's brand name for their complete line of semi-rugged and fully rugged mobile computing products that include rugged notebook convertibles, Tablet PCs, and ultra-mobile PCs such as the RUGGEDBOOK SR659 shown here.

The SR659, which Samwell considers an ultra-portable PC, or UMPC, is for those who need the power and versatility of full Microsoft Windows in a tablet device that's as small and light as possible, but still large enough for real work.

The SR659 measures 8.1 x 5.3 inches, is only 1.2 inches thick, and weighs under two pounds. That's considerably smaller and lighter than almost all netbooks on the market today. The low weight and slenderness of the device are made possible, in part, by the tablet form factor that does not have a physical keyboard. The other reason is the compact touchscreen display that measures just 7.0 inches diagonally. It is a wide-format screen with WSVGA (1024 x 600 pixel) resolution, i.e. the same as that deemed acceptable in millions of netbooks sold around the world. That much resolution on a seven inch screen means a razor-sharp display with somewhere in the neighborhood of 160+ dots per inch. The display has a fairly bright 250 nits backlight, and an outdoor-viewable version is optionally available.

The SR659 is powered by VIA Nano processor technology. The Nano is a 64-bit superscalar processor, and the U1700 version used in the SR659 runs at 1.0+GHz. It works in conjunction with the VIA Vx700 chipset and is a power-efficient solution that provides sufficient performance. The Ruggedbook slate comes with 1GB of DDR2 memory and either a 1.8-inch hard disk or a 16GB CF card. Samwell offers the Ruggedbook SR659 either with the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition or with Windows XP Embedded, with XP Embedded implementations likely running on Compact Flash.

For such a small device, the SR659 has excellent connectivity. On the left you find RJ45 LAN and earphone jacks, VGA, and both a USB and a mini-USB port. On the right side is a second USB port and both a PC Card and a SD card slot. The computer can be equipped with dual 1.3 megapixel cameras, one facing toward the user and one is mounted on the backside. This allows both video conferencing and documentation.

For communication, the SR659 comes with integrated Bluetooth Class II, Version 2.0 with EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) and 802.11b/g/n WiFi. GPS is optional, and there is an optional external GPS antenna connector.

Samwell describes this device as semi-rugged, referring to IP53 sealing of the front bezel. This means the machine can handle the occasional bit of rain and rough handling in the field.

Mobile operation is via touch/stylus. Alongside the right edge of the display is a button area that contains hardware controls for WiFi on/off, an Enter key, a five-way navigation diamond, an application launch button, and a SAS button. The primary camera lens and fingerprint sensor are also on the side. On the back you find two speakers and a handy kickstand.

Overall, Samwell the RUGGEDBOOK SR659 provides Windows computing power in an ultra-light and compact slate. The 1024 x 600 pixel display has enough resolution for real work, there is very good connectivity, and battery life should be up to four hours. Since Samwell offers the SR659 also with Windows XP Embedded, it can be custom-configured and optimized for specific applications.

Added 04/2009
Type Ultra-light semi-rugged UMPC
Processor VIA Nano U1700 w/ 800MHz FSB and 1MB exclusive L2 cache
CPU Speed 1.0+GHz (1.0 to 1.3GHz)
CPU Thermal Design Power 5 watts
Standard/Max RAM 1GB DDR2 SDRAM
OS Windows XP Tablet PC Edition or Windows XP Embedded
Graphics VIA Vx700
Disk/drive 1.8-inch 30GB hard drive or 16GB Compact Flash
Media Bay NA
Card slots 1 PC Card Type II, 1 SD Card
Display type TFT with 250 nits backlight (optional outdoor-readable display available)
Display size/res 7.0-inch/WSVGA (1024 x 600 pixel)
Digitizer/pens Resistive touch screen
Keyboard/scale Optional external
Housing Unknown
Operating Temp 41 to 95F
Sealing IP53 (front bezel only)
Shock NA
Humidity NA
Condensation unknown
Thermal shock NA
Vibration NA
Altitude NA
Size (WxHxD) 8.1" x 5.3" x 1.2"
Weight 1.95 lbs.
Power Li-Ion 2,600mAH ("max. 4 hrs")
Interface 2 USB 2.0, 2 mini-USB, RJ-45, video, audio in/out, fingerprint reader, stereo speakers, cradle connector, optional 1.3-megapixel camera (front or rear) reader
Wireless 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth Class 2 v 2.0 with EDR, optional GPS
List price inquire
Webpage Ruggedbook SR659
Spec sheet SR659 official specsheet
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