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

July 2008

Trimble offers new pistol grip for rugged Nomad handheld Computer
The Trimble/TDS Nomad’s new pistol-grip accessory provides workers a more ergonomic way to perform laser bar-code scanning. The accessory attaches easily to the bottom of the Nomad, providing trigger-activated scanning, and the touchscreen and keypad are still easily visible. Rubber overmolding on both the Nomad and the pistol grip provides rugged protection, and the lanyard helps prevent drops. Adding the pistol grip to the Nomad doesn’t compromise its ruggedness. It maintains an IP67 rating, meaning it is impervious to dust and moisture, and it still meets stringent MIL-STD-810F military standards for drops, vibration and temperature extremes. -- Posted Thursday, July 31, 2008

Formation doubles ToughDisk storage capacity
Formation, Inc. announced a doubling of the storage capacity of its ToughDisk 3500 SATA rugged hard disk, from 320 to 640GB. While the ToughDisk's 3.5-inch form factor is larger than the 1.8 and 2.5-inch disks commonly used in slates and notebooks, there are many mobile applications where a rugged drop-in replacement of a standard 3.5-inch low-profile hard drive comes in handy. ToughDisks are meant to bridge the gap between conventional hard disks and expensive solid-state solutions, providing much of solid-state’s performance in a conventional 3.5" disk form factor (see ToughDisk spec sheet). -- Posted Thursday, July 31, 2008

Speech-to-speech tablet for military applications
Rugged Portable Systems, a division of Santa Ana, Calif.-based Secure Communication Systems, offers the Lynx ruggedized mobile speech-to-speech translation system for military and other applications. The 4-pound package includes special array microphone and speaker for real-time two-way speech translation over a distance up to 12 feet using Two Way Speech-to-Speech software such as SRI International's IraqComm, BBN's TransTalk, IBM's STST, and others. [Read description and specs of the Secure Comm Lynx rugged speech translator tablet] -- Posted Thursday, July 31, 2008

Plasco ID and Socket provide tracking solution for Memphis schools
Socket Mobile and Plasco ID announced a mobile tracking and data retrieval solution for high schools and middle schools in Memphis City Schools. The mobile tracking solution includes the Socket SoMo 650 handheld computer equipped with Socket CompactFlash Scan Cards and will be used to help track tardiness, assign detentions and verify student identities for the 112,500 students in the district. [Read release] -- Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2008

O'Neil introduces microflash 2te rugged 2-inch printer
O'Neil Product Development, Inc. introduced the microFlash 2te, which the company calls the world's smallest and most rugged and reliable 2-inch wireless portable thermal printer. The Bluetooth and USB-equipped 2te is latest model of O'Neil's microFlash family and can print up to 2,240 6"-long receipts on a single battery charge with automated power-saving sleep and wake-up modes. The 2te can also be ordered with an optional built-in magnetic stripe card reader allowing the easy processing of credit or debit card payments. [Read release on the O'Neil microflash 2te] -- Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Motorola unveils rugged wireless Access Point.
The Enterprise Mobility business of Motorola announced the latest member of its outdoor access point product family, the Haz-location (Haz-Loc) certified AP-5181, that is designed to extend the wireless enterprise into the harshest work environments. With an operating temperature range of -22° F to 131 degrees Fahrenheit and an IP56-rated housing, the 802.11a/b/g AP-5181 can handle just about anything. [See product page of the rugged Motorola AP-5181] -- Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Military Health System Contract Awarded to General Dynamics
General Dynamics Information Technology, a business unit of General Dynamics, has been awarded a TRICARE Evaluation, Analysis and Management Support contract by the U.S. Department of Defense. General Dynamics is one of 23 companies selected to provide TRICARE with program planning, execution and support for Department of Defense healthcare programs. The 10-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract has a $5 billion total potential value among all awardees if all options are exercised. Under the contract, General Dynamics will provide planning and management services including requirements analysis, acquisition support, budget planning and management, business process engineering, technical management, program planning and execution support to the Military Health System. -- Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Royal Mail selects Intermec CN3 to improve customer service
Intermec announced that Royal Mail, the leading provider of mail and parcel delivery services in the United Kingdom, has awarded Intermec a contract to provide over 25,000 of its rugged handheld CN3 mobile computers. Royal Mail delivers 80 million items a day to 28 million addresses across the UK. The Intermec CN3 will enable Royal Mail to improve on its current paper-based system for collecting signatures for the majority of its tracked products. A signature will be collected on the handheld device which is then sent via GPRS for delivery confirmation and viewing within 15 minutes. -- Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Added: description of the two new Fujitsu Tablet PC convertibles
We've added descriptions and full specs for Fujitsu's two new Centrino 2-based Tablet PC convertibles. The 4.5-pound LifeBook T5010 is the successor to the flagship LifeBook T4220 and has an active digitizer. The touch-screen value-priced 5.3-pound LifeBook T1010 looks like a larger version of the existing LifeBook T2010, has about the same performance and many of the same features as the T5010, but without high-end security features. See description and specs of the Fujitsu LifeBook T1010 and the Fujitsu LifeBook T5010. -- Posted Friday, July 25, 2008

GD-Itronix XR-1 computers support Roll Back Malaria Zambezi Expedition 2008
In a press release, General Dynamics Itronix described how their fully-rugged GoBook XR-1 notebook computers withstood the rigors of more than 70 days aboard rigid inflatable boats, experiencing the extreme conditions associated with a tropical river environment while supporting the Roll Back Malaria Zambezi Expedition 2008. The GoBook XR-1 computers enabled critical communication links among expedition crew members, support staff and headquarters providing satellite navigation and communications, logistics planning and regular website updates. [Read GD-Itronix release] -- Posted Friday, July 25, 2008

Trimble introduces "Blue Ox" forestry hardware/software solution
Trimble introduced the Blue Ox system, an integrated transportation management solution for forestry applications that optimizes routes, reduces waiting times, eliminates bottlenecks that waste time and fuel, and provides more backhaul opportunities. Blue Ox equips log trucks with rugged GETAC E100 Tablet PCs and a Trimble iLM 31xx cellular communications and GPS positioning module. Loaders use the rugged Trimble Recon handheld computer and the iLM 31xx module. In one pilot test of the Blue Ox system, coordinated truck dispatch increased loaded miles per day by over 30%. In another test, the number of trucks required to complete the job was cut by almost half and the trucks had to travel almost 22% fewer miles. -- Posted Thursday, July 24, 2008

Vista a problem for Solid-State Drives
Solid-state drives offer performance, ruggedness and reliability increases and we've been seeing more of them in products we reviewed. Unfortunately, Windows Vista doesn't work well with solid-state disks. During its 2nd quarter conference call, SanDisk CEO Harari said Vista was not optimized for solid-state flash memory and it would require next generation controllers to make up for Vista shortcomings. Upcoming solid-state disks will have capacities from 128 to 256GB and require more advanced controllers to take advantage of speed and features. -- Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Case study: Alberta agency finds 30% productivity increase with GD-Itronix XR-1
Total cost of ownership is directly related to the increase in productivity that an investment in rugged technology yields. The Sustainable Resources Department of Alberta, Canada, conducted a mobile office initiative pilot project on public land, wildlife and forest resources management in 2007. The project included use of General Dynamics Itronix XR-1 rugged notebooks and resulted in a 30% productivity increase. View Government of Alberta case study. -- Posted Monday, July 21, 2008

Full review: RMT Duros rugged tablet
We reviewed the RMT Duros, a time- and field-tested rugged tablet computer made by one of the most respected manufacturers in the business. The compact tablet has a footprint of 10.2 x 7.8 inches and weighs just over four pounds. The body is made of aluminum and feels exceedingly solid and invulnerable. The bright 8.4" display has a responsive and very configurable touch screen. The Duros is a very rugged unit that is totally sealed against dust and can also handle water jets from all sides. It has a very wide operating temperature range (-4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit) and you never have to worry about it getting damaged. [Read full review of the RMT Duros rugged tablet computer] -- Posted Thursday, July 17, 2008

Extech adds new software to rugged IP-54 sealed Andes 3 printer
Extech Data Systems has added extra capabilities to its Andes 3 Generation 4 printers. Designed for harsh outdoor environments, the IP54 certified three-inch printer is able to withstand adverse weather conditions and drops to concrete without diminished performance. Adding to the functionality of the Andes 3 is Form Fiesta, a free Windows based page printing utility that allows users to create forms such as boarding passes and parking tickets. Form Fiesta also offers a selection of linear barcode types that can be inserted quickly and easily in any position on the form.
-- Posted Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pana migrates CF-52 and CF-74 to Centrino 2
Panasonic announced upgrades to its semi-rugged Toughbook CF-52 and Toughbook CF-74 including migration to the new Intel Centrino 2 processor technology, enhanced video and graphics capabilities, increased hard drive capacity (160GB) as well as expanded Wi-Fi performance with the addition of 802.11 Draft N. A CF-52 Value model will have an Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 2.26GHz, the CF-52 Premium an Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 2.4GHz, and the CF-74 the 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 2.4GHz. Intel's Centrino 2 includes 45nm Core 2 Duo processors, the Mobile Intel 45 Express Chipset and Intel WiFi Link 5000, and represents an effort by Intel to sell chipsets and WiFi in addition to just processors, and to create the impression that a "Centrino 2 Inside" sticker represents a better computer. -- Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Xplore ships 400 more tablets to supercenter retailer
Xplore Technologies announced it has shipped an additional 400 iX104 rugged computers to Meijer, the Grand Rapids-based supercenter retailer. The computers will be used in data collection and inventory and warehouse management at the retailer. Previously Meijer had purchased 445 units from Xplore for similar applications. -- Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fujitsu introduces two new 13.3-inch Tablet PC convertibles
Fujitsu announced the availability of the 13.3-inch widescreen, LifeBook T5010 and LifeBook T1010 convertible Tablet PCs equipped with the next-generation Intel Centrino 2 processor technology (Core 2 Duo P8400 and P8600 chips). The 4.5-pound LifeBook T5010 is the successor to the flagship LifeBook T4220 and has an active digitizer. The touch-screen value-priced 5.3-pound LifeBook T1010 looks like a larger version of the existing LifeBook T2010, has about the same performance and many of the same features as the T5010, but without high-end security features. Both machines have a bi-directional display hinge, include wireless draft-N or Atheros N for fast WiFi, optional Bluetooth v2.1, a 56 watt-hour battery, and optional wireless WAN. A spill-resistant keyboard helps guard against damage from common on-the-go spills, and a shock sensor helps protect the hard drive from damage. The LifeBook T5010 starts at $1,769 and the LifeBook T1010 at $1,299. -- Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vail Resorts picks Intermec CN3 for ski pass scanning
Intermec announced that its CN3 mobile computers with IP30 handheld RFID readers have been chosen by Vail Resorts, a premier mountain resort company and leader in luxury destination-based travel at iconic locations, for its 2008-2009 season ski passes at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly. The "easy scan" process makes getting through lift lines easier and more convenient by using RFID technology to give skiers and snowboarders holding 2008-2009 season passes the option to keep their passes inside their jacket and be automatically scanned by a Vail Resorts employee in the lift line. -- Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Intermec closes Everett assembly line
Intermec announced its plan to relocate the final assembly of its product lines from Everett, WA to Venture Corporation Limited, a Singapore-based global electronics services provider. The Company also will consolidate two U.S. service depots to existing locations in Charlotte, NC and Monterey, Mexico, and transfer its on-site field service repair to a third party supplier. This plan will be implemented over the next 9 - 12 months and will reduce Intermec's workforce by approximately 260 employees. Intermec says these actions are consistent with the company's previously announced strategy to improve its gross margins, by simplifying and streamlining its own global supply chain while serving its customers and partners in a more responsive and efficient manner. -- Posted Thursday, July 10, 2008

Now available: print-style PDFs of recent full reviews
Print-style PDFs of recent full product reviews are now available for download and viewing for the Getac E100 rugged Tablet PC, the Getac B300 rugged notebook, the Advantech MARS-3100R rugged Tablet PC and the Advantech MARS-3100S embedded systems semi-rugged tablet. -- Posted Thursday, July 10, 2008

Garmin releases Oregon series of waterproof touchscreen GPS devices
Garmin introduced the Oregon series of handheld GPS devices for outdoor, marine and general applications, combining a touchscreen, rugged design and a variety of preloaded mapping options. The waterproof (IPx7 sealing) Oregon models weigh less than seven ounces, have a microSD card slot, barometric altimeter and electronic compass, and run 16 hours on two AA batteries. The Oregon 400t has 3D U.S. topographic maps. The 400i offers shoreline details, depth contours and boat ramps for U.S. inland lakes and rivers. The 400c provides charts for the coastal U.S. and Bahamas. The Oregon 300 has a worldwide basemap with shaded relief, and the Oregon 200 a basemap that can be supplemented with additional mapping. These new devices seem ideal to supplement rugged applications. Click for a full product comparison table] -- Posted Thursday, July 10, 2008

Extreme testing -- we're taking a Tablet PC underwater
Rugged computers are usually tested in accordance with stringent military procedures. But what do these environmental specifications mean in the real world? What happens when you spill more than a soda onto a computer? For example, could you take an IP54-rated rugged Tablet PC underwater? Rugged Tablet PC vendor MobileDemand encouraged us to find out. Click on the video window to see what happened, or view a larger version on -- Posted Monday, July 7, 2008

Honeywell announces Dolphin 9900 Series
Hand Held Products, now part of Honeywell's Imaging and Mobility group, announced the Dolphin 9900 Series of ruggedized data collection and communications terminals. The 9900 runs Windows Mobile 6.0 on a 624MHz Marvell PXA270 processor, has 256MB of RAM and a full gigabyte of Flash. It can scan 1D and 2D symbologies, and supports WiFi, WWAN and GPS. There's a choice of two shifted and full alphanumeric keyboards and the battery lasts for over ten hours. [Read description and specs of the Honeywell Dolphin 9900 Series] -- Posted Thursday, July 3, 2008

After Hand Held Products, Honeywell also buys Metrologic
Honeywell seems serious about the rugged mobile market as the company has now completed its acquisition of Metrologic Instruments, Inc., a leading manufacturer of laser and mobile imaging and remote scanning, for approximately $720 million. Metrologic will be part of Honeywell Imaging & Mobility, a line of business within Honeywell Security. Honeywell Imaging & Mobility includes Hand Held Products, a leading manufacturer of imaging and mobility solutions, acquired by Honeywell in December of 2007. [See press release of Honeywell's acquisition of Metrologic] -- Posted Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Full review: Advantech MARS-1031N rugged handheld
Rugged Windows CE-based handheld terminals are used in tough jobs around the world by the hundreds of thousands. The Advantech MARS-1031N is a prime example of an ultra-rugged yet compact and lightweight handheld computer for a large variety of field service, logistics, and data capture applications. Based on field-proven technology (Windows CE 5.0 running on a Marvell PXA 27x processor), the MARS-1031 is a highly configurable workhorse that can handle data and voice communications and 1D/2D scanning in addition to conventional data capture. The availability of two different keyboards (16 and 44 keys) helps in customizing the unit for a given task. [Read full review of the Advantech MARS-1031N] -- Posted Tuesday, July 1, 2008

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