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

December 2009

Parvus supplies rugged mission computers for unmanned aircraft
Parvus announced that its DuraCOR 810 mission computers have been integrated into Northrop Grumman's MQ-5B Hunter Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). More than 40 DuraCOR 810 rugged multi-core mission processor subsystems designed for high reliability applications requiring MIL-STD-810F compliance with extreme temperatures, shock/vibration, and ingress protection have been delivered to sub-contractor Melhcorp and configured to operate as the Payload Interface Unit for the Hunter UAV. [Read Parvus press release] -- Posted Tuesday, December 29, 2009 by chb

More on the new Atoms
Those who followed the progress of Atom into rugged and embedded systems have noticed that it's pretty evenly split between the Atom N270 and the Atom Z510/530/540. The new Atom N450 is clearly the successor of the N270, so we'll probably see it in rugged devices, while the D410/510's path isn't as clear. [See new Atom processor description and commentary] -- Posted Wednesday, December 23, 2009 by chb

Intel announces next-gen Atom processors
Intel announced a next generation of Atom processors that succeed the current 230, 330, N270 and N280 processors (but not the Z-series Atoms, which are a different family). The new chips are the single core N450 geared towards netbook-style devices which we'll likely see in a lot of rugged/mobile systems, and the desktop-oriented single core D410 and dual core D510. All run at 1.66GHz. Whereas older N-series Atoms used a three-chip solution (Atom - ICH7M - GMCH), graphics and memory controller are now part of the new Atoms, resulting in a smaller two-chip solution (Atom - NM10). Graphics seem slightly improved, but there's still no HD hardware acceleration. The primary benefit may be reduced power consumption of the N410 package versus the N270/280 package (7 vs. 12 watts). The D410 and D510 packages seem to have faster graphics and there is no obvious reason why they could not be used in mobile systems as their system power consumption is still only 12 and 15 watts. [See list of all Intel Atom processors and Intel announcement of new Atoms] -- Posted Monday, December 21, 2009 by chb

Raytheon now developing mission software apps for iPhone/iPod Touch
Raytheon has unveiled the first of a series of mission software apps specifically designed for Apple's iPhone and iPod touch and leveraging Apple's rapidly growing mobile content and technologies, such as a compass, global positioning system, accelerometer, 3G networks, Wi-Fi and a multitouch screen. Raytheon said it has developed a situational awareness application based on military messaging standards that provide multimedia access, audio and textual point of interest, free text messaging, collaborative planning, spot reports and emergency call for fire. -- Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 by chb

IBM and Fujitsu offer palm vein scan security system
IBM and Fujitsu announced a new security solution that integrates palm vein biometric technology from Fujitsu with IBM's enterprise single sign-on solution that helps bypass the hassles of managing multiple passwords. Palm vein identification is a highly accurate technology that competes well with iris scanning in accuracy. It uses no trace technology and leaves virtually no biometric footprint behind, making it difficult to spoof compared with cheaper fingerprinting devices. [More info on IBM access solutions] -- Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 by chb

Federal Trade Commission sues Intel
The Federal Trade Commission today sued Intel, charging that the company has illegally used its dominant market position for a decade to stifle competition and strengthen its monopoly. The FTC alleges that Intel has waged a systematic campaign to shut out rivals' competing microchips by cutting off their access to the marketplace, depriving consumers of choice and innovation, and maintaining a monopoly at the expense of consumers, who have been denied access to potentially superior, non-Intel CPU chips and lower prices. Hmmm... in 1981, the IBM PC cost US$4,000 and the 8088 chip in it about six bucks. Today, a PC costs a few hundred dollars, while many Intel CPUs also cost a few hundred dollars. [Read press release on FTC suit against Intel] -- Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by chb

Multi-Touch Virtual Keyboard for Windows 7
The ever-innovative folks at Comfort Software Group have added multi-touch support to Hot Virtual Keyboard, their on-screen typing solution for Windows. Replacing the original Windows On-Screen Keyboard, Hot Virtual Keyboard 5.0 offers numerous benefits over the built-in version to allow computer users type faster and with more comfort. The latest edition adds support for Windows 7 and its sensor input with up to 255 touch points. There's also word auto-complete, programmable keys, several dozens of different layouts, as well as complete customization. -- Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by chb

Need rugged Ethernet switches and gear?
The latest mailing by German Mikro Elektronik GmbH highlights the company's rugged Ethernet switches designed specifically for use in harsh environments. [See rugged Ethernet switch product page] -- Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by chb

Xplore secures working capital credit facility
Xplore Technologies Corp., makers of the Xplore iX104 line of ultra-rugged tablets, announced that it has entered into a $4.75 million working capital credit facility with Far West Capital. The new working capital facility replaces a credit facility with Silicon Valley Bank, which has been paid in full. -- Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by chb

Datamax-O'Neil acquires Extech Data Systems division
Datamax-O'Neil, part of Dover Corporation's Product Identification Platform, has acquired FLIR Systems' Extech Instruments' Data Systems Division, a leading developer of portable printers for enterprise-wide applications. Only in March of 2009, we reported that Datamax and O'Neil merged to become Datamax-O'Neil as part of Dover's Product Identification Group (PIDG), a $1 billion global entity. That's quite a bit of consolidation in one year, and from the looks of it also a good deal of overlap. We certainly hope it'll all work out to the benefit of the companies involved and to mobile printing customers everywhere. -- Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by chb

MP samples of Samwell RUGGEDBOOK SR820 now available
Samwell International announced in an email to current and prospective customers that samples of their Atom Z530P-based RUGGEDBOOK SR820 tablet are now available. The SR820 seems a compelling device: Netbooks are selling by the millions, so why not offer the same size and technology in a ruggedized touch screen device without the extra bulk and weight of a physical keyboard? [See Samwell announcement and SR820 product description] -- Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by chb

IP67-rated rugged camera for jobsites and the field
Because things get dropped, crushed and rained on at job sites, toolmaker Ryobi introduced a digital camera specifically designed for use in the field. The US$199 8-megapixel Ryobi Durashot has large, readable controls, an IP67 rating, a 3-foot drop spec, and can take up to 800 pictures on a single charge of a battery it shares with Ryobi tools. [See description and specs of the Ryobi Durashot at our sister site, DigitalCameraRoundup.com] -- Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by chb

Psion Teklogix announces new contracts
Psion Teklogix proudly announced the signing of five new deals, good news in a time of economic woes. The deals are with Brandon Hire (250 WorkAbout Pro G2), RWE npower (350 Ikons), Dusseldorf Airport (130 Ikons), as well as NBN and PJH. [See Psion Teklogix press release on new contracts] -- Posted Tuesday, December 15, 2009 by chb

Pfizer equips sales reps with Lenovo Tablet PCs
The Wall Street Journal reports that Pfizer is equipping its sales reps with Lenovo ThinkPad X200 convertible Tablet PCs. Planning for the Tablet PC project began a year and a half ago, and became more urgent when the systems became part of an agreement with the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Tablet PCs will help in not only provide more thorough and up-to-date information about drugs to doctors, but also displaying a list of preapproved products. -- Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 by chb

Motorola releases MC3090-Z business-class RFID reader
Motorola introduced the MC3090-Z, a special version of its successful MC3000. The MC3090-Z addresses a very specific need, that of providing a rugged, reliable RFID reader for field service and business environments. The device has a 3-inch square 320x320 pixel touch display and runs Windows Mobile 6.1 on a 520MHz Marvel XScale 270 processor. A dual-axis antenna provides versatile RFID coverage and the device is more than rugged enough for use in a large variety of retail, inventory and asset tracking applications. [See description and specs of the Motorola MC3090-Z] -- Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 by chb

Rugged router concept
Cisco and Control Express Finland (CEF) have developed a rugged router and firewall as a concept product. The Cisco/CEF 880G-MK has been especially designed for use in mobile systems. Network access protocols include a Fast Ethernet wired LAN, an 802.11n fast wireless LAN and a 3G/EDGE/GPRS mobile WAN. The router also supports other network technologies such as (at)450 and WiMAX. [See news on CEF's concept rugged router] -- Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 by chb

Windows Mobile: RIP 2000-2009?
Windows Mobile: RIP 2000-2009, that's the title of a blog entry at examiner.com. The blog doesn't claim that Windows Mobile is dead, just that it might as well be dead. There's been a flood of other similar articles, all suggesting that Microsoft might as well shut down Windows Mobile and get out of the phone market. What all those pundits don't consider is that while Microsoft has indeed fumbled the mobile consumer market in a downright Palmian manner, Windows Mobile remains strong in the vertical market where it essentially has no competition. -- Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 by chb

Motion introduces ReadyDock for J3400
Motion Computing, a leading provider of integrated mobile computing solutions, today announced new peripherals designed to improve the mobility and adaptability of its tablet PCs. The ReadyDock and external battery charger for the J3400 offer multiple options for storing and charging, while the auto/air AC and DC adapter provides the ability to charge all currently available Motion Tablet PCs from multiple power sources. [See ReadyDock for J3400] -- Posted Monday, December 14, 2009 by chb

Happy 10th anniversary Windows Embedded Partner Program!
Microsoft is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its Windows Embedded Partner Program (WEPP) by announcing the next-generation program for participating partners, building on its recent release of Windows 7 technologies to manufacturers of specialized devices. WEPP has grown to more than 650 partners globally. See the Microsoft press release and general info on the Windows Embedded program. -- Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 by chb

Healthcare Technology Online: Don't lose faith in EHRs
A recent study led by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School suggested that EHR (Electronic Health Records) so far have not resulted in the savings and increased quality hoped for. Healthcare Technology Line, however, feels it's much to early to pass judgement on EHR and that its benefits will become more than evident over time. These systems are of important to the rugged industry which has been bringing a variety of MCA (Mobile Clinical Assistant) devices to market. [Read Heathcare Technology Online position on EHR] -- Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 by chb

Panasonic concludes purchase of Sanyo
Panasonic, which makes the Panasonic Toughbooks, says it has now secured majority ownership of Sanyo, and Sanyo will likely become a subsidiary of Panasonic. While the two companies have been rivals, they are also family as Sanyo was started by Panasonic Founder Konosuke Matsushita's brother-in-law Toshio with the help of Matsushita. The deal will give Panasonic access to Sanyo's battery and renewable energy products. -- Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 by chb

Minneapolis courier service uses Psion Teklogix Ikôn
Psion Teklogix announced that Street Fleet, a Minneapolis-based same day delivery courier service, has upgraded its dispatching system by supplying Psion Teklogix ikôn rugged mobile computing devices to its drivers in the field. Street Fleet used integrator Emkat, Inc., and Penchant Software to provide a customized dispatching solution. Once in place, the Ikôns were integrated into the system, followed by connectivity through T-Mobile’s data network. [See Psion Teklogix press release] -- Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009 by chb

ACME Seahawk: three 17-inch displays in one unit
There are applications that can benefit from, or require, multiple displays. Once again, those specialty computing folks at ACME Portable Machines have the answer with their Intel Core 2 Quad powered Seahawk that sports three 17-inch SXGA displays that can all work in tandem. The large and hefty (60 pounds) lunchbox computer also includes three terabyte 3.5-inch SATA drives and five PCI slots, enabling essentially unlimited expansion. [Read description and specs of the ACME Seahawk multi-display computer] -- Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 by chb

Seagate enters SSD market
Seagate has been part of the PC revolution from the start. Its hard disks were in the original IBM PC XT in the early 1980s, and unlike many other hard disk vendors that folded or were absorbed, Seagate is still around. However, Seagate was never part of the increasingly important solid state storage market. That has changed now as Seagate announced its entry into the SSD market with the Seagate Pulsar, a 2.5-inch form-factor SATA platform currently going up to 200GB. Seagate believes that its numerous relationships with OEMs will make up for its late entry into the market. [See Seagate Pulsar product page] -- Posted Wednesday, December 9, 2009 by chb

When you need PCI slots in the filed: ACME Tenuis 100
Not all computing tasks are simple, and there are times when you need certain expansion cards to get a job done in the field. That's exactly what Acme Portable Machines, Inc. designed their Tenuis 100 portable computer for. It combines robust Core 2 Duo power with room for three 2.5-inch drives and two PCI/PCI-e full-length peripheral cards. This sort of thing usually requires AC power, but the Tenuis comes with dual 95 watt-hour Li-Ion packs! [See description and specs for the ACME Tenuis 100 Plus] -- Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 by chb

Portable super computer: ACME Comrade 700
There are times when you need a computer that is portable, but also provides far more computing power or expansion capability than your run-of-the-mill notebook. For such projects, Acme Portable Machines, Inc. announced release of a Super Computer portable platform, the Comrade 700. Integrated is the latest Intel Core i7 processor and motherboard with seven PCI-E Gen2 x16 slots for working with CUDA parallel programming. [See description and specs for the ACME Comrade 700] -- Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 by chb

Wall Street Journal mentions MobileDemand's innovative marketing
In a feature entitled "How to Channel Your Twitter Voice," The Wall Street Journal Digital Network mentioned MobileDemand's innovative ruggedness videos published on YouTube, BlipTV and other video sharing sites. [See WSJ feature] -- Posted Thursday, December 3, 2009 by chb

Intel Atom SDK beta now available
The beta version of the Intel Atom Developer Program SDK for native Windows and native Linux Moblin application development is now available. It provides developer benefits such as authorization, crash reporting, and a consumer store client emulator for testing. The SDK enables submission of paid applications and revenue share components, allowing developers to earn revenue when the partner app stores launch. [See Intel Atom SDK download page] -- Posted Thursday, December 3, 2009 by chb

What GPS can do for farmers today
Farming ain't the backbreaking chore it used to be. With the Trimble AgGPS Autopilot automated steering system farmers can have their tractors automatically steered at one inch repeatability from plant to harvest in any field pattern. This extends operating hours, maximize row precision, and decreases fuel. Everything can be managed on the Trimble AgGPS FmX integrated touch display that handles guidance, steering, mapping and application control. And just today, Trimble announced a yield monitoring and mapping functionality upgrade that can help farmers evaluate field performance, identify problem areas, and adjust seed and fertilizer application rate to generate higher yields. Old McDonald never had it so good, and Trimble never seems to run out of new ways to innovatively apply GPS and mapping technology to real world applications. -- Posted Thursday, December 3, 2009 by chb

DLI announces rugged, super-compact point-of-sale tablet
DLI, a LaPorte, Indiana based manufacturer of rugged mobile tablets has announced the DLI 8800 Mobile POS tablet. The rugged Atom Z530-powered DLI 8800 has a 7-inch screen, weighs just 2.3 pounds, has an integrated mag stripe reader, and can be ordered with an integrated RFID reader and 2D barcode scanner. The DLI 8800 is available either with a touch screen or an active digitizer. [See description and specs of the DLI 8800 POS tablet] -- Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by chb

VIA defines tiny Mobile-ITX standard
In an effort to make x86 computing accessible for a next generation of ultra-compact devices, VIA defined the new Mobile-ITX form factor, the embedded industry's smallest computer-on-module (COM) form factor specification for a board measuring just 2.36 x 2.36 inches. The Mobile-ITX specification uses two 120-pin connectors for all I/O signals and 5V single power supply and to mount Mobile-ITX boards onto carrier boards. [See VIA Mobile-ITX specfication] -- Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by chb

Matte versus glossy displays
Most displays on consumer notebooks and an increasing number of displays on rugged computing equipment now have a glossy surface. Manufacturers love those displays because they "pop" in showrooms and work well for watching videos. However, they also result in annoying screen reflections that can make them hard to read, especially outdoors. A website has now launched a petition to offer matte screens. It's geared towards Macs, but the arguments, voting and discussion are quite interesting. [See MacMatte site on matte versus glossy displays] -- Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by chb

PhatWare releases update to PenOffice
PhatWare has released an update to its PenOffice app, adding compatibility with Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. It also offers pen-based collaboration, improved security and reliability features, support for multi-core processing, and configuration and management features to improve mobile working. PenOffice supports numerous languages and is designed for use with Windows-based PCs. Beyond the Microsoft Office markup feature, PenOffice now adds support for OpenOffice.org 3.0 or later documents. [See the PhatWare PenOffice page] -- Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by chb

How ruggedness reduces mobile computer TCO
Anyone seeking ammo and/or information to justify the higher initial cost of ruggedized computing equipment should download this 8-page white paper by Intermec. It provides an excellent summary of how various levels of ruggedness result in lower total cost of ownership compared to consumer-grade products. [Download How Ruggedness Reduces TCO for Mobile Computers] -- Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 by chb

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