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

March 2012

Review: Advantech SOM-6765 COM-Express
COM-Express CPU boards are tiny, but provide full computing functionality for embedded systems projects where they are usually used in specially designed carrier boards. We describe and benchmarked the industrial-quality Advantech SOM-6765 powered by a dual-core 2.13GHz Intel Atom D2700 processor. Compared to earlier Atom-based modules, these latest ones are a huge step forward in terms of performance. [See review of the Advantech SOM-6765 COM-Express Type 2 module] -- Posted Saturday, March 31, 2012

Blast from the past: Scriptel
Scriptel, a global provider of electronic pen and sensor technology, announced the launch of the ST1501 LCD Electronic Signature Pad for Web Environments. The name Scriptel also brought back memories of the ScripTel WriteTouch digitizer of the mid-1990s that was briefly used in Xplore GeneSys rugged tablets. In the meantime, Scriptel apparently has an installed base of almost 3 million units. -- Posted Saturday, March 31, 2012

IDC: Android to pass Windows platform
According to IDC, the Windows/X86 platform will slip from a leading 35.9% share in 2011 down to 25.1% in 2016, losing the OS lead to Android-based devices running on ARM CPUs. IF, that is, you count smartphones and media tablets as computers. Looking at it that way, of the almost one billion of "smart connected devices" (i.e. PCs, tablets and smartphones) sold in 2011, about half were smartphones. By 2016, IDC expects almost 1.9 billion smart connected devices, and over 60% will be smartphones. Interestingly, IDC's graphs show tablets remaining well behind conventional PCs. [See IDC press release] -- Posted Friday, March 30, 2012

Red Hat now a billion dollar company
There was a time when Linux was seen as the next big thing and Red Hat was seemingly everywhere (we had our servers and many notebooks running Red Hat). But a number of years ago, Red Hat turned away from consumers/enthusiasts and to business customers. Then Android happened, and further pushed Linux away from public view. All this seemed to have worked out for Red Hat as the company had US$1 billion sales for the first time. [See Red Hat press release] -- Posted Friday, March 30, 2012

Psion introduces modular rugged Omnii RT15 for field service, delivery, data collection
A couple of months after introducing the modular Omnii XT15 handheld, Psion added another version of the platform, the RT15. With a slightly lower drop spec and IP65 sealing instead of the XT15's IP67, the RT15, which is also priced a bit lower, is geared specifically towards field service and similar applications. [See Psion press release and our description and specs of the Psion RT15] -- Posted Thursday, March 29, 2012

Solar-powered rugged case for the iPad
Solawerks announced that the company is developing a version of its Solapad iPad cover with space age "hard rubber" type material so that the fragile iPad can be used in rugged environments. -- Posted Thursday, March 29, 2012

Intermec commits to Cedar Rapids
In an obvious commitment to local employment, Intermec will start construction of a new facility in downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in April. The project, according to the Eastern Iowa Government website, will keep "at least 200 high-paying engineering and related jobs in the downtown." [See article] -- Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2012

ADLINK Technology seeking dominant role in modular computing
According to a press release, Taiwan's embedded computing company ADLINK has big plans. The company, which was formed 17 years ago and has annual revenues of US$170 million, recently acquired German LiPPERT Embedded Computer, after purchasing rugged industrial computer maker Ampro in 2008. Pointing at VDC Research projections for a computer-on-module market of almost US$900 million by 2015, ADLINK president Daniel Yang says he is "confident that the new company is positioned to quickly become the dominant player in the modular computing space." -- Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fujitsu offers faster Stylistic Q550
Fujitsu is now offering a top-of-the-line model of the Stylistic Q550 Slate PC with a 1.7GHz Intel Atom Z690 instead of the original 1.5GHz Z670. This model, which starts at US$999, also comes standard with a Gobi3000 technology and carrier-independent WWAN module (available as an option in lesser versions). [See latest Fujitsu Q550 specs] -- Posted Monday, March 26, 2012

New: Opticon H22 rugged WinMo handheld
Opticon has released the H22, a rugged handheld computer running Windows 6.5.3 on a 806MHz Marvell PXA320 processor. The 12-ounce rugged handheld (IP65, 5-foot drop, 14-122F) has a 3.7-inch full VGA touch screen, a numeric or QWERTY keypad, extensive data capture capabilities (1D/2D scanner, RFID, camera, AGPS) and also includes WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G/3.5G WWAN and even an IrDA port. [See description and specs of the Opticon H22] -- Posted Monday, March 26, 2012

Intermec named to CRN's 2012 5-Star Partner Programs Guide
Intermec announced it has received the 5-star rating in CRN's 2012 Partner Programs Guide, a listing of manufacturers and software publishers that service solution providers and/or provide products to the IT Channel. In building the list, UBM Channel Research developed a methodology in which vendors are assessed on information provided in their completed applications. The objective criteria takes into account each vendor's investments in program offerings, partner profitability, partner training, education and support, marketing programs and resources, sales support and communication. [See Intermec press release] -- Posted Monday, March 26, 2012

Handheld's ultra-rugged Algiz XRW off to the North Pole


Handheld Group reports that their ultra-rugged Algiz XRW notebook has been selected by the French scientific North Pole 2012 Expedition for a five week long expedition to the North Pole, starting March 22, 2012. The expedition will be autonomous, without assistance, with a daily travel schedule of 25 km, each member pulling a 150 kg sledge. "The Algiz XRW is really one of the most important pieces of equipment of the expedition," said project leader Alan Le Tressoler: "The entire objective of the expedition is to collect, retain and analyze scientific data, something we can only do with an extremely well functioning mobile computer that is also able to handle extreme conditions." [See press release]
-- Posted Monday, March 26, 2012

Curtiss-Wright releases 1,000 nits LED-backlit rugged mission touch display
Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions announced an upgraded version of its rugged 6.4-inch Skyquest AVDU1626 touch display for connected moving maps use in helicopter and fixed-wing platforms. The biggest change is a switch from fluorescent to LED backlighting with over 1,000 nits while retaining night flight operations standards. [See Curtiss-Wright press release] -- Posted Sunday, March 25, 2012

Getac PS236 now available with Android in Europe
European offices of Getac announced that the Getac PS236 rugged handheld will now also be available with Android, a move that follows, according to Getac, the manufacturer's collaboration with Android developers across the globe. The hardware (806MHz PXA310, 3.5-inch VGA screen, 3.5G WWAN, IP67, etc.) remains largely the same as for the Windows Mobile version, with the exception of the Android version's larger 256MB RAM and use of USB client 2.0 instead of USB OTG. The Android version may become available in the US as Android gains more traction in vertical markets. [See PS236-Android spec sheet and Getac UK press release] -- Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rugged Computing Industry Discussion: Opportunities in the rugged tablet market as a result of the iPad's popularity
Tablets have been around for over 20 years, mostly as niche market products, with brief periods of heightened interest such as the early 1990s (the original IBM ThinkPad was a tablet) and Microsoft's 2002 push with the Tablet PC. Over the past two years, the Apple iPad legitimized the form factor with an elegant multi-touch interface first popularized on the iPhone, and now used on hundreds of millions of smartphones. There is unprecedented opportunity for the tablet form factor, but on the rugged size few products that seek to take advantage of that need. We asked a number of industry executives why that is and how they view the situation. [Read Q&A about opportunities in the rugged and semi-rugged tablet market as a result of the iPad's popularity] -- Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Poundland boosts warehouse productivity with Motion Tablet PCs
Motion Computing reports that Europe's biggest single price discount retailer, Poundland, has gone live with a deployment of Motion F5 Tablet PCs in two warehouse hubs in the Midlands. The tablets replace legacy data collection equipment and improve the productivity of Poundland QA teams in both locations and ensure Poundland's supply chain keeps pace with demand. [See Motion Computing press release] -- Posted Monday, March 19, 2012

Charleston County, SC, awards port securities grant to Nova Mobile Systems/Getac
Getac reports that Charleston, S.C. has selected Nova Mobile Systems to provide rugged mobile computing systems to 10 emergency response agencies within the County to protect critical infrastructure from terrorism and other security breaches in and around its port areas. Nova will manage and coordinate the procurement and field installation of 230 B300 rugged notebook computers and V200 rugged convertible notebook systems from Getac, which were chosen based on their ability to perform in extreme environments and consistently provide the speed and performance Charleston law enforcement need. [See RPCR reviews of the Getac B300 and V200] -- Posted Monday, March 19, 2012

Rugged tablets the perfect tool for Taiwan's utility workers
Even more so than laptops, tablet computers can be used anywhere, anytime. And with tens of millions of people now familiar with the tablet form factor with their smartphones and iPads, they expect the same functionality and ease of use in the computing equipment on their jobs. As a result, tablets are increasingly used in the field as well. Case in point: the utility industry in Taiwan (where most of the world's tablets are made). [See "Rugged tablets the perfect tool for Taiwan's utility workers"] -- Posted Monday, March 19, 2012

Habey USA introduces ultra-compact Windows CE-based HMI panel with 7-inch touch screen
Habey USA introduced the PPC-6107 as a compact, simple Windows CE 6.0-based human interface device for all sorts of automation application. The panel weighs, which can be placed almost anywhere via VES mounts, has a 7-inch touch screen with 800 x 480 pixel resolution and an unusually complete set of onboard I/O ports. [See description and specs of the Habey USA PPC-6107 HMI panel] -- Posted Friday, March 16, 2012

Video: Motion Tablet PCs for Mobile Audio Mixing
Western-swing, boogie and roots-music band Asleep at the Wheel has been around for nearly 40 years, turning out 25+ albums while playing a tough, relentless schedule. The band prides itself on continuous reinvention, and exploring new avenues and sounds. One thing they never have to worry about is ensuring optimal sound quality for everyone in the audience thanks to road manager Jim Finney and his Motion Computing J3500 Tablet PC that he uses for mobile audio mixing. Motion put up a great video on YouTube where Finney explains the project and use of the tablet. [See Motion Tablet PCs for Mobile Audio Mixing] -- Posted Thursday, March 15, 2012

Intermec introduces versatile, highly configurable PC43 desktop labeling printers
Intermec announced their new PC43d and PC43t desktop printers for light duty labeling applications in transportation, courier, hospitality, manufacturing, warehouse and office environments. The PC43d and PC43t printers, which join the new healthcare-optimized PC23d wristband and label printer announced in February, are available in direct thermal (43d) or thermal transfer (43t) models; can include WiFi, Bluetooth, RFID, a 480 x 234 display; print up to 8 ips on max 4.7-inch labels, and are much smaller than they look in the picture [See press release and PC43d / PC43t product page] -- Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Datalogic reports 2011 financials as best everbest ever quarter
Datalogic reports 2011 revenues of €425 million, up from 393 million in 2010. Datalogic Mobile, which is now part of the company's ADC (automatic data capture) division , saw its revenues grow by 10% to €96.4 million. According to Datalogic, that makes Datalogic Mobile ranked fifth worldwide in the handheld and PDA segments of the market for rugged mobile computers. Datalogic further reports that the Elf and Falcon lines were best-selling products in 2011. -- Posted Friday, March 9, 2012

Windows Marketplace for Mobile to shut down
On March 8, 2012, Microsoft announced that the Windows Marketplace for Mobile will shut down on May 9, 2012. Starting on that date, Windows Mobile users will no longer be able to browse, buy or download applications directly on a Windows Mobile 6.x device using the Windows Mobile 6.x Marketplace application and service. That's too bad as we found the Windows Mobile Marketplace to be very useful. [See Microsoft announcement] -- Posted Friday, March 9, 2012

Webinar on Smart Operator Panels
Advantech will conduct a free webinar on how to implement an animated color graphic Operator Panel on Thursday, March 22, 10AM PST. The session will show how today's intelligent operator panels reduce costs by serving many functions formerly handled by multiple devices. See Advantech's Intelligent Operator page and webinar registration page] -- Posted Friday, March 9, 2012

Getac Europe announces Android-based rugged Z710 tablet
Getac's European operations have issued press releases inviting Getac customers to try out their new rugged and Android-based Getac Z710 tablet. The ruggedized Z710 has a 7-inch capacitive touch screen, measures 8.8 x 5.75 inches, runs up to 10 hours on a charge, has dual cameras and 16GB of onboard storage (expandable via microSD), and can be equipped with RFID, scanners and WWLAN. A 10-inch Android model will also be available. [See description and specs of the Getac Z710 tablet] -- Posted Thursday, March 8, 2012

Motion hosts free webinar on optimizing clinical workflows with tablet computers
Healthcare organizations are looking to gain the mobility benefits of tablets but still have questions about what kind of device to choose. On Wednesday, March 14, 2012 11:00 am PST Motion Computing hosts a free webinar to explore the key questions to ask when considering a mobility initiative built on tablet PCs. [See Event Information: Tablet PCs: Optimizing Clinical Workflows] -- Posted Thursday, March 8, 2012

DAP Technologies explains its modular design concept
The theme of DAP Technologies' most recent newsletter is future-proofing modularity. DAP explains how in today is challenging business environments, it's all about minimizing risk, increasing efficiency, and keeping costs down, and how the company is future-proofing its handheld, tablet, and vehicle-mounted solutions via modularity. DAP also released two videos that show the modularity concept in their M4000 handheld (see video) and M9010 tablet (see video). DAP also released a white paper/case study that shows how the modular approach allowed their M8910 and M9010 tablets to adapt to the requirements of a customer in the acoustics and vibration measurement business (read case study). -- Posted Thursday, March 8, 2012

The new iPad -- both challenge and opportunity for rugged market manufacturers
If you want to sell tablets it's tough not to be Apple. And on March 7, 2012, it got that much tougher when Apple introduced the next version of the iPad, setting the bar even higher for anyone else. Yet, we are convinced that there's a large and growing demand for a more rugged tablet. The new iPad will boost acceptance of the tablet form factor and functionality to higher levels yet, and that still means opportunity for everyone else. [Read full article: The new iPad -- both challenge and opportunity for rugged market manufacturers] -- Posted Thursday, March 8, 2012

Swedish company appoints former Microsoft and Vodafone top executive
Swedish provider of Mobile Device Management The Institution has appointed former Microsoft and Vodafone executive Pieter Knook as Chairman of the Board. Along with Gustav Bard, former Chairman and CEO of 3i Nordic, Knook will work on promoting The Institution's REVIVAL Mobile Device Management Suite. [See press release] -- Posted Thursday, March 8, 2012

New Apple iPad: dual/quad-core, retina display, 4G, 1080p video, iSight cameras, voice dictation
Apple announced the new iPad with a 2048 x 1536 pixel "retina" display, a A5X quad-core processor, iSight camera technology similar to the iPhone 4s, 1080p video, voice dictation, Bluetooth 4.0, and 4G LTE. The new iPad looks very much like current models, but weighs a bit more than the iPad 2 (1.4 lbs). Battery life will remain at 10 hours for general use and, amazingly, 9 hours on 4G. Pricing remains at the same level (i.e. US$499 ($629 with 4G) for 16GB models; US$599 ($729 with 4G) for 16GB models; and US$699 ($829 with 4G) for 64GB models). The iPad 2 remans available with lowered prices. Apple also introduced iPhoto for iPad and a new 1080p-capable Apple TV (US$99). -- Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Healthcare Technology Online on HIMSS 2012
Ken Congdon, Editor In Chief of Healthcare Technology Online, reports that the recent HIMSS 2012 show in Las Vegas was the biggest yet, with over 37,000 healthcare and related professionals attending. Dominant topics: 1) Analytics on the massive amount of new data with adoption of EHRs, 2) mobile computing and providing clinicians with the ability to perform more job duties at the point of care, 3) use of cloud computing/storage. [See Healthcare Technology Online article] -- Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Psion introduces new services portfolio
Psion launched a set of three service programs aimed at ensuring increased workforce productivity, operational efficiency and reduced costs for Psion's global partners and customers. The new Psion Services offerings include Modular Services (for users of the Psion Omnii platform), Managed Services (break-fix support with proactive Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools), and Primary Services (comprehensive break-fix protection). [See Psion Services for detailed services description] -- Posted Monday, March 5, 2012

Vocollect seeks pilot deployments for nurses in technology-progressive hospitals
Vocollect Healthcare Systems, part of Vocollect, a business unit of Intermec, announced it is seeking three technology-minded hospitals to engage in a research-based pilot deployment of its IV clinical workflow application, as well as real-world application and feedback to help identify other practical applications of its AccuNurse voice-based system. Vocollect Healthcare Systems is seeking these pilots to be underway by June 2012, with implementation complete by the end of 2012. [See Vocollect press release] -- Posted Monday, March 5, 2012

Laird Technologies acquires Summit Data Communications
Laird Technologies -- which is part of the UK-based 9,000-employee Laird plc that specializes on EMI shielding, thermal management, and wireless systems -- announced it has acquired Summit Data Communications whose mission-critical WiFi solutions we often find in ruggedized computer products. Summit, which had 2011 revenues of US$17.2 million, Summit will be a part of Laird's Wireless Systems Division. [See press release] -- Posted Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: Advantech-DLoG XMT 5/7 vehicle mount computer
When you operate forklifts and similar vehicles, a regular computer won't do. For that you need a compact, super-tough vehicle mount device that's as invulnerable as the vehicle itself. RuggedPCReview.com takes a detailed look at (and inside) the Advantech-DLoG XMT 5/7, a Windows CE-based industrial-strength terminal with a bright 7-inch 800 x 480 pixel touch screen, exemplary wired and wireless connectivity, IP67 sealing, and an extremely wide operating temperature range. [See full review of the Advantech-DLoG XMT 5/7] -- Posted Monday, March 5, 2012

UPS begins deployment of 100,000 Windows Mobile-based DIAD V rugged handhelds
While consumers use tens of millions of iPhones and Android smartphones, Windows Mobile (or Windows Embedded Handheld as it's now called) continues to rule the vertical markets. Case in point: UPS announced on February 29, 2012, that it has begun to equip its drivers worldwide with the 5th generation DIAD (Delivery Information Acquisition Device) V handheld computers (4th generation handhelds came from Symbol/Motorola Solutions (see here)). How many of these Honeywell-made handhelds will UPS deploy? That'd be approximately 100,000 by 2013. And what is the DIAD V? A 1.3 pound flashlight-style Windows Mobile 6.5-based handheld with a 1GHz processor, 1GB of storage, a micro-SD card slot, a 50-key physical keypad, color touch display, 2D imager, 3mp camera for proof-of-delivery pics, WWAN (possibly GOBI), GPS, and, of course, a very rugged design. [See UPS DIAD-V press release and the evolution of the DIADs] -- Posted Monday, March 5, 2012

Socket offers updated SoMo 655 handheld computer for conventional Pocket PC/PDA applications
Socket Communications announced that an updated version of its SoMo 650 handheld computer will be available in Q2/2012. The new Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 based SoMo 655 model remains a slightly ruggedized traditional Pocket PC/PDA for those who don't want or need a smartphone or need to replace discontinued or aging Pocket PCs such as HP's iPAQs. Socket will also make available special healthcare and high-security versions of the 655. [See description and specs of the Socket SoMo 655] -- Posted Saturday, March 3, 2012

Evolution of helix antennas for miniaturized GPS systems
The rugged industry has its buzz words and special terms, and one of them is the quadra-helix or quadrifilar helix antennas GD-Itronix has been using for many years to provide maximum GPS performance in its rugged notebooks and tablets. Apparently, GD-Itronix continues to believe in the technology as UK miniature antenna maker Sarantel will reportedly supply its tiny PowerHelix/GeoHelix antenna technology (see example) for use in the Android-based GD-Itronix GD300 rugged wearable computer/GPS/communicator. -- Posted Thursday, March 1, 2012

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    About RuggedPCReview
    The editor and co-founder of Pen Computing Magazine launched RuggedPCReview.com 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 RuggedPCReview.com 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."