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RuggON PM-501

Versatile semi-rugged, Intel Atom-powered 10.1-inch tablet computer with function buttons, nav control, expansion modules
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

Taiwan-based RuggON Corporation was established in 2014 as a provider of ruggedized computing products. RuggON's stated mission is to raise the productivity of rugged computing solutions through creative, pioneering technology. Their lineup consists of RuggTAB tablets and RuggVMC vehicle mounts. On this page we're describing the PM-501 10.1-inch rugged tablet.

The PM-501 is somewhat unique in RuggON's lineup for two reasons:

First, it's the only one listed as "semi-rugged" instead of fully rugged. There are no clear, universal definitions as to what constitutes the various degrees of ruggedness, but genereally "semi-rugged" implies somewhat lighter construction, somewhat less sealing, and lower cost. It also can mean more onboard ports (ports are costly to seal) and additional functionality compared to fully rugged designs.

Second, not exactly knowing when the PM-501 was introduced makes it somewhat difficult to comment on its current usefulness. For example, while the unit's 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 has seen wide application in embedded and vertical market devices, it's been replaced by several newer and more powerful generations of Atom chips. The cameras, likewise, have lower resolution than what we'd expect in 2014, and 5-wire resistive touch has pretty much been replaced by capacitive multi-touch in most modern tablets. On the other hand, the unit's wide-format 1366 x 768 pixel display remains useful and is well suited for Windows applications.

In terms of size and weight, the PM-501—designed for a wide range of field and office deployments—measures 10.8 x 8 inches and is just over an inch thick. Weight is 2.42 pounds, very manageable for a semi-rugged unit. Looking at the tablet, size and weight specs presumably are without the large protective rubber bumpers.

Among the unique features of the PM-501 are the five large programmable function buttons and the large navigation diamond. When programmed for frequently used functions, or integrated in custom applications, this can make for easy, efficient, and error-free use. In addition, for scanning applications the PM-501 has large trigger buttons on each side of the display.

There are two cameras, a 1.3mp front-facing conferencing cam, and a rear-facing 2mp documentation camera. There's 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth v2.1 and RFID, as well as, optionally, 3.5G mobile broadband and magnetic stripe reading, barcode scanning and GPS via snap-on modules. Wired connectivity includes two USB 2.0 ports as well as audio in/out.

One of the benefits of the PM-501's miserly Atom Z530 processor is minimal battery draw. This allows the PM-501 to run 10+ hours on a charge if equipped with dual batteries.

Though the PM-501 is only considered "semi-rugged," environmental specs are quite impressive. IP55 sealing, which means its largely dustproof, and can also handle low-pressure water jets from all directions (albeit with limited ingress permitted). It also has a reasonably wide operating temperature range of 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and can be dropped from five feet (undoubtedly thanks to its solid state disk and hefty protective bumpers).

Overall, there's definitely a place for a tablet like the semi-rugged RuggON PM-501 with its large wide-format display, programmable physical buttons for easy device operation, availability of all sorts of data collection snap-on mopdules and accessories, and those big protective bumpers. And there are still sers who prefer resistive touch for outdoor and field operations. The Z530 is a bit of a question mark, but since the PM-501 comes with an emebdded version of Windows, which is always far less resource-intensive than the full consumer versions, it may well be enough for many applications.

Taiwan-based RuggON was launched in 2014 when First International Computer spin-off Ubiqconn decided to focus on ODM business only. RuggON took over Ubiqconn's tablet and vehicle mount computers, which are now sold under the RuggON brand.
Specifications RuggON PM-501
Added 08/2014
Form-factor Semi-rugged tablet
CPU Speed Intel Atom Z530 1.6 GHz
OS Win XP Embedded or Win XP Pro Embedded
Storage 32GB SATA Solid State Disk
Card slots none
Display type TFT with 200 nits LED backlight
Display size/res 10.1 WXGA (1366 x 768 pixels)
Digitizer/pens 5-wire resistive touch screen
Keyboard/keys Onscreen or optional external; 5 function buttons, 2 trigger buttons, RF button, navigation diamond
Navigation Touch, stylus, navigation diamond
Housing Unknown
Operating Temp 14° to 122°F (-10° to 50°C)
Sealing IP55
Vibration Unknown
Shock Multiple 5-foot drops (MIL-STD-810G)
Certifications CE, FCC, CB, CCC
Size (WxHxD) 10.8 x 8.0 x 1.05 inches (275 x 204 x 27 mm)
Weight 2.42 lbs (1.1kg)
Power Internal smart Li-Polymer 7.4V/3800 mAH 28.1 watt-hours; optional external 4,200mAH battery pack
Sensors Ambient light sensor
Cameras 1.3mp front camera, 2.0mp rear camera with flash
Interface 2 x USB 2.0, audio in and out
Wireless Bluetooth V2.1, 802.11b/g/n, optional snap-on GPS/RFID/MSR modules, 3.5G WWAN
List price inquire
Web page RuggON PM-501 product page
Brochure RuggON PM-501 brochure (PDF)
RuggON PM-501 Docks/Accessories

RuggON Corporation
3F., No.129, Minquan Rd., Xindian Dist.
New Taipei City 23141, Taiwan
Telephone: 886-2-8797-1778
Fax: 886-2-8797-1881
Web: www.ruggon.com