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Rugged PC Review Monthly News Archive [ Back to news index]

January 2013

Taiwan and Japan alliance to better compete with South Korea?
Interesting: DigiTimes reports of the failed attempt of a Taiwanese delegation to form some sort of strategic alliance between Taiwan and Japan to better compete against South Korean firms. Apparently, Taiwan had hoped that in the wake of the 2011 Tsunami disaster, Japan would seek to invest abroad to diversify risk and that Taiwan would be a logical place, but that did not happen. The DigiTimes article said that Japan-based firms tend to view Taiwan-based peers as OEM firms who lack key technologies, and Japan really does not need Taiwan. Our take: While in the rugged mobile computing sector, most OEMs remain Taiwanese or Chinese, the momentum, at the expense of Japan, clearly seems to have shifted to South Korea. [See article] -- Posted Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kyocera Torque to be Sprint's first ultra-rugged 4G LTE Android smartphone
Sprint and Kyocera announced the upcoming availability of the ultra-rugged 4G LTE Android Kyocera Torque smartphone. The Torque can handle extreme operating temperatures (-4 to 140F), carries IP67 sealing, has a 4-foot drop spec, and passes a number of additional MIL-STD-810G style tests. The MSM8960 Snapdragon-powered Torque has a 800 x 480 pixel 4-inch capacitive IPS screen, can use Sprint's Direct Connect push-to-talk service, and is also the first U.S. device to use Kyocera's proprietary Smart Sonic Receiver technology that replaces a traditional speaker with vibrations that transmit sounds directly to the eardrum. [See Sprint/Kyocera Torque] -- Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Toshiba backlight level controller
Toshiba says its new TC358771XBG and TC358772XBG MIPI-DSI to LVDS interface-converter bridge LSIs with a backlight level controller for LCD displays can drastically reduce the power consumption of mobile devices by optimizing the brightness of the LCD display backlighting to meet ambient light conditions. -- Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Novatel Wireless commercializes its MT 3050 vehicle tracking solution
Novatel Wireless announced that its Enfora MT 3050 device has received technical approval from Verizon Wireless. The MT 3050 is a mobile tracking OBD-II device which reduces up-front costs for insurance telematics and fleet management applications with easy, plug-and-play installation and a small form factor. The new MT 3050 also features integrated disconnect alert supported by an in-device backup battery. [See Novatel Wireless Enfora MT 3050 info sheet] -- Posted Monday, January 28, 2013

Datalogic announces preliminary 2012 financials
Datalogic announced preliminary sales revenues for Q4 2012 of 114.3 million Euro, compared to 108.2 million Euro for Q4 of 2011. Preliminary sales revenues for all of 2012 came in at 461.7 million Euro with a growth of 8.5% compared to 2011. Datalogic CEO Mauro Sacchetto said, "The fourth quarter of 2012 showed an upturn compared to the previous quarter, due mainly to the positive acknowledgement of the new Group approach in addressing our reference markets. There are still uncertain elements as a result of the macroeconomic scenario which is extremely volatile and of a very weak market." -- Posted Saturday, January 26, 2013

Motorola Solutions reports record 2012 sales and earnings
Motorola Solutions announced fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results highlighted by Q4 sales of US$2.44 billion, up 6% from Q4 2011, and full-year 2012 sales of US$8.7 billion, up 6% from 2011, both driven by solid demand in all regions in its Government segment (Enterprise sales were down, even including Psion revenues). Q4 earnings were US$423 million, up 53% from the US$276 million for the quarter a year ago. Full-year 2012 earnings were US$1.26 billion, up sharply from US$858 million in 2011. Total 2012 sales were roughly 31% from enterprise sales and 69% from government sales, representing a shift towards more government sales. Looking forward, Motorola Solutions expects 2012 sales to grow by about 5-5.5%. [See Motorola Solutions press release] -- Posted Friday, January 25, 2013

Fujitsu held 6th Annual North America Technology Forum
On January 24, 2013, Fujitsu Laboratories of America is hosting the Sixth Annual Fujitsu North America Technology Forum in Mountain View, Calif. The theme is "Powering a Sustainable Future with Next Generation Technologies." The event features keynotes by leading luminaries in academia and industry, such as John Hennessy, president of Stanford University, Nicholas Negroponte, chairman emeritus of MIT Media Lab and founder of One Laptop per Child Association, Alan Kay president and founder, Viewpoints Research Institute and Tatsuo Tomita, president of Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. -- Posted Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kopin demonstrates next-gen Golden-i computer headset
Kopin has been demonstrating major enhancements in its Golden-i wireless hands-free computing and communication headset technologies based on natural speech and motion control. The Golden-i 3.8 is a smaller and more powerful reference design aimed at the light industrial and professional market. Compared to the Golden-i 3.5 that was licensed to Motorola Solutions for its HC-1 product (see our review of the HC-1) for heavy industrial applications the foldable Golden-i 3.8 is half the size and half the weight, has 16 times more processing power, a new low light, inertial stabilized high-resolution camera for real-time video streams, and an accessory infrared camera for night and thermal vision. [See Golden-i 3.8 product page]
-- Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Toshiba ships 26 million automotive-grade hard drives
Hard disks -- not just fopr computers anymore: Toshiba Storage announced that a leading German luxury car manufacturer is now shipping its vehicles standard with Toshiba's MK2060GSC 200GB Serial ATA automotive hard disks (HDD), marking 26 million automotive-grade HDDs shipped. Toshiba has led innovation in the automotive sector since launching its first automotive-grade HDD in 2000, and is the leading vendor in the automotive storage market. -- Posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Added: TabletKiosk Sahara Slate PC i500
We added a product page with description, analysis and specs for the Intel Core i7-powered TabletKiosk Sahara Slate PC i500. It's an enterprise-oriented Windows tablet light and handy enough to be carried around, but with a large (and excellent) 12.1-inch dual mode (procap multi-touch and Wacom pen) 1280 x 800 pixel screen. There's very good onboard connectivity and a wealth of options and peripherals modular through TabletKiosk's product line. [See TabletKiosk Sahara Slate PC i500] -- Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: TabletKiosk eo a7400 7-inch enterprise Windows tablet
TabletKiosk has been in the tablet computer business for a good many years, and it shows. The 7-inch, Intel Atom N2600-powered TabletKiosk eo a7400 combines new technology (such as projected capacitive multi-touch) with a rational, mature tablet design for enterprise users. Now in its 4th generation, the unassuming eo is surprisingly quick, practical, and a good answer for many enterprise applications that require Windows in a small and light tablet package. [See review of the TabletKiosk eo a7400] -- Posted Monday, January 21, 2013

Intermec: Distribution center mis-picks add up
In October of 2012, commissioned by Intermec, research company Vanson Bourne sampled 250 senior supply chain managers at organizations of over 500 employees. They found that more than half of companies reported pick rates of less than 97%, and the average cost of a mis-pick approximately US$22. This means an average of nearly $390,000 per year due to mis-picks that could be reduced with technologies such as voice systems and RFID. [See Intermec press release] -- Posted Monday, January 21, 2013

Advantech announces full support of Windows 8
Advantech's Industrial Automation Group announced their full support of Microsoft Windows 8. Advantech pointed out that there are several powerful functions added into this release, including Natural User Interface (NUI), cloud connectivity, Windows-to-Go (see demo), and Secure Boot (see explanation). These combine to provide premium user interfaces to a variety of devices on a solid and more secure platform. -- Posted Sunday, January 20, 2013

Water- and shatterproof Sony Xperia Z Android smartphone
Not rugged, but waterproof to three feet, shatterproof glass, and very solid construction. That's the Sony Xperia Z Android smartphone shown at CES in Las Vegas. It has a 5-inch procap screen with stunning 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution (more than Apple's "retina" iPhone displays), a 1.5GHz Snapdragon quad-core chip, 16GB of Flash, and a 13-megapixel camera. -- Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2013

VIA announces ultra-compact VIA ARMOS-800, first ARM-based industrial PC
VIA Technologies announced the VIA ARMOS-800, an ultra-compact, fanless system designed around the tiny VIA VAB-800 Pico-ITX board. Featuring an 800MHz Freescale ARM Cortex-A8 SoC with two integrated GPUs, the minute 6 x 4.2 x 1.8 inch ARMOS-800 provides embedded customers with a ruggedized system capable of advanced multimedia features in a power efficient design for a diversified range of embedded applications. [See VIA ARMOS-800 product page] -- Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On the Microsoft front ...
Blog: Well, on the Microsoft side of things, a couple of areas are becoming a bit clearer. Not much, but a bit. One is the upcoming release of the long awaited Windows Embedded 8 Handheld. The other is the situation with Windows RT. [Read on] -- Posted Monday, January 14, 2013

Intermec enhances 70 Series of ultra-rugged handhelds with fully integrated RFID
Intermec announced integrated RFID capabilities for its ultra-rugged CK70, CN70 and CN70e mobile computers. The devices now offer a fully-integrated UHF RFID reader without the need of an external antenna by using Intermec’s IM11 embedded module along with an internally housed antenna. This way, customers get advanced RFID read performance without changes to the compact form factor of the 70 Series mobile computers. [See Intermec press release] -- Posted Monday, January 14, 2013

Motorola Solutions showing Windows Embedded 8 Handheld prototypes at NRF
Motorola Solutions announced it is showcasing new Motorola enterprise mobile computing prototypes running Windows Embedded 8 Handheld at NRF, and that its HTML5 cross-platform development framework, RhoElements, will support Windows Embedded 8 Handheld. Motorola Solution also said that in addition to enterprise-rade security and manageability, the upcoming devices will have full Windows Phone 8 application compatibility. [See Motorola Solutions press release] -- Posted Monday, January 14, 2013

Microsoft delivers Windows Embedded 8 Handheld for Enterprise handheld devices, but not just yet
At the National Retail Federation (NRF) Annual Convention & Expo in New York, Microsoft issued a press release entitled "Microsoft Delivers Windows Embedded 8 Handheld for Enterprise Handheld Devices." According to the release, Microsoft is working with Motorola Solutions "to design a line of retail devices from the circuit board up," with the promise of generating the next device for Home Depot which, after deploying 34,000 Windows Embedded Handheld devices in 2010 complained, "How can we get more?" Microsoft says that "because Windows Embedded 8 Handheld is built on Windows Phone 8, organizations can benefit from enterprise-class manageability, and both Microsoft and Windows Phone 8 management partners already offer solutions that support Windows Embedded 8 Handheld." The only problem is that Microsoft -- which said it is working also with Intermec, Honeywell, Ingenico and Bluebird -- won't even release the Windows Embedded 8 Handheld SDK until later this year. [See Microsoft release] -- Posted Monday, January 14, 2013

Full review: Winmate E430T rugged 4.3-inch procap Android PDA
The Android-based Winmate E430T rugged handheld PDA may well be the answer for a lot of individuals and businesses who want a device with modern smartphone technology and ease-of-use, but also one that won't easily break on the job. With a footprint of 3.2 x 5.2 inches and a 4.3-inch procap multi-touch screen, the E430T is about the size of a contemporary large-sceen phone. RuggedPCReview did a detailed evaluation and came away impressed. [See full review of the Winmate E430T] -- Posted Monday, January 14, 2013

Video: HABEY USA R8 rugged 8.4 inch tablet
Anyone interested in a very rugged 8.4-inch Atom Z670-powered tablet that can run a variety of operating systems and is highly configurable with scanners, RFID, MSR and telematics connectivity should watch HABEY USA's new video on their R8 tablet (which we described and listed as the NORCO PPC-3308). [See 5-minute YouTube description of the HABEY USA R8 rugged tablet] -- Posted Saturday, January 12, 2013

JLT Mobile launches 12 and 15-inch fanless rugged, highly configurable panel computers
Swedish JLT Mobile Computer introduced the VERSO series of rugged fixed-mount computers. Designed for heavy-duty deployments in mining, construction, agriculture, off-shore, etc., the VERSO systems are flexible with either an Intel Core i7 or an Atom D2550, Windows 7, WES 7, or Windows 8,two screen sizes (12 and 15 inches), different display brightness, and substantial onboard I/O. The fanless, IP65-sealed resistive touch-screen panels are available now. [See description, analysis and specs of the JLT VERSO 12 and JLT VERSO 15] -- Posted Friday, January 11, 2013

Gammatech's new semi-rugged Durabook CA10 tablet
GammaTech introduced the Durabook CA10, a semi-rugged Windows tablet computer based on the dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom N2600. The 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 screen offers 2-finger resistive multi-touch, mass storage is via speedy SSD, there's good onboard connectivity, there are optional RFID and 1D/2D scanning, and the device can handle 4-foot drops. Semi-rugged, though means only IP43 sealing, but the starting price of US$1,299 is attractive. [See description, analysis and specs of the Gammatech Durabook CA10] -- Posted Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ambarella introduces A9 SoC for 4K Ultra HD video
Ambarella, which makes the HD video compression and image processing semiconductors enabling today's tiny sports action cams and numerous other advanced integrated video applications, introduced the A9 camera System-on-Chip (SoC) with support for the new 4K Ultra HD video standard. The A9 enables development of the next generation of mirrorless, sports, and digital still cameras with leading-edge video features and exceptional still image quality. In addition to 4K Ultra HD video, the A9 supports 1080p/120 and 720p/240 video. The A9 uses dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPUs and supports wireless connectivity for video streaming or image sharing. We see no reason why A9 technology should not be included in rugged mobile computers! [See Ambarella A9 product brief] -- Posted Thursday, January 10, 2013

Datalogic to showcase checkout experience of the future at NRF Convention and Expo in NYC
Datalogic announced that at the 102nd NRF Convention and EXPO (held in New York on January 13 – 16) it will demonstrate their store automation products and solutions that enable the retailer and system integrators to re-invent the retail checkout while providing consumers with an improved shopping experience. Datalogic will show the recently released pocketable and rugged Lynx PDA as well as their Elf PDA, and Skorpio X3, Falcon X3 and Memor mobile computers, and their Magellan 9800i scanner-scale. [Complimentary ticket to NRF] -- Posted Thursday, January 10, 2013

Xplore and Doble present hardware/software solution for high voltage and utility test market
In an interesting value-added project, Doble Engineering and Xplore Technologies joined forces to develop the Doble Universal Controller iXDUC120, which is a modified version of Xplore's ultra-rugged iX104C5 tablet. Doble needed a computer powerful enough to operate their suite of high voltage test equipment and software solutions while being tough enough to withstand the rigors of electrical field testing. [See press release] -- Posted Thursday, January 10, 2013

Also new: Android 4.0 7-inch Panasonic Toughpad JT-B1
At CES< Panasonic also introduced the smaller 7-inch Toughpad JT-B1. The 1.2-pound, TI OMAP-4460 powered tablet runs Android 4.0 on a bright 500-nit procap 1024 x 600 pixel multi-touch screen with AG and AR treatments. The Toughpad can handle 5-foot drops, is IP65 sealed and starts at US$1,199. [See description, analysis and specs of the Panasonic Toughpad B1] -- Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Panasonic introduces Windows 8 Toughpad FZ-G1
At CES in Las Vegas, Panasonic introduced the Toughpad FZ-G1, a Windows 8-based rugged tablet with a high resolution (1920 x 1200 pixel) 10.1-inch capacitive multi-touch screen that also comes with an active pen for jobs that require more precision than the touch of a finger. The FZ-G1 has a 3rd gen Intel Core i5 processor, up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of solid state disk, can handle 4-foot drops, extreme temperatures, and it carries IP65 sealing. [See description, analysis and specs of the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1] -- Posted Tuesday, January 8, 2013

NVIDIA introduces what the company calls the "world's fastest mobile processor"
A couple of years ago, few could have predicted NVIDIA's success with their Tegra line of ARM processors. Yet, Tegra CPUs are now in many leading tablets, and now NVIDIA introduced the Tegra 4 with much increased performance and lower power consumption to power smartphones, tablets, PCs and other devices. The Tegra 4 has 72 custom GeForce GPU cores and the first quad-core application of ARM's most advanced CXPU core, the Cortex-A15, resulting in 4X processing power. [See Tegra 4 news release] -- Posted Monday, January 7, 2013

Advantech launches ruggedized 3.5" Intel Atom-based SBC with integrated intelligence
Advantech launched the ruggedized PCM-9389 Single Board Computer with built-in intelligence. The 146 x 102 mm SBC is based on the Intel Atom N455 or D525. It uses industrial-grade materials and components and mechanical design to pass all critical test criteria. The PCM-9389 supports either soldered DDRIII SDRAM for high vibration resistance, or SODIMM socket for flexible memory module choices. Advantech's iManager intelligent management agent can self-diagnose and take precautionary actions to enhance reliability. PCM-9389 comes with both PC/104 expansion for legacy applications and Low Pin Count buses for four additional COM ports, making it a reliable, I/O-rich, intelligent, cost-effective and space-saving solution. [See Advantech PCM-9389 product page] -- Posted Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Purchase Mobile Computers Wisely
The cost of mobile computing hardware pales in comparison to the cost of downtime; that's why the true value of mobile computing deployments depends on total cost of ownership. Jerker Hellström, CEO of Handheld Group, explains the inherent advantages of rugged mobile computing hardware when it comes to equipping mobile workforces. [See How to Purchase Mobile Computers Wisely] -- Posted Wednesday, January 2, 2013

ACROSSER offers Intel 3rd gen Core COM Express Basic industrial module with extensive onboard I/O
ACROSSER launched the new ACM-B6360 COM Express Basic Type 6 module (95 x 125 mm) with Intel 3rd generation Core processors and the new QM77 chipset. Designed for industrial solutions, the ACM-B6360 module supports four native USB 3.0 ports, three independent displays, as well as two SATA 3.0, two SATA 2.0, four USB 2.0, GbE and I2C, an SMBus interface, a PCI-E x16 Gen., 3.0 and seven PCI-Ex1 interfaces for IO expansion. [See product page] -- Posted Wednesday, January 2, 2013

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    The editor and co-founder of Pen Computing Magazine launched late 2005 as a website dedicated to providing news and information about rugged mobile computer technology and its applications. The site aims to be an industry clearinghouse for rugged computing equipment hardware reviews as well as an information source on rugged computing terminology, definitions, testing, and enabling technologies.

    "Over the many years that we have been testing and reviewing rugged mobile computers, and in our professional careers prior, we have noticed that there is very little standardization and that potential clients are often confused where and what to buy," said Dr. Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, Editor-in-Chief of and former CIO of the New York State Dormitory Authority. "We hope that our new service will answer many questions and provide all the answers a client needs to make an informed decision."