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

September 2006

Black Diamond launches first rugged UMPC
On September 26, at the Embedded Systems Conference, Black Diamond Advanced Technologylaunched the Switchback PC, the world's first rugged UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC). The company describes the 7.5 x 5.5 x 2 inch device as the next generation of rugged computing systems, sort of a "Toughbook that fits into pant pockets." While the Switchback PC follows the general Microsoft "Origami" UMPC platform, it clearly addresses an entirely different market. An integrated hardware keyboard makes data entry easier, the device uses a modular backend (hence the name "Switchback") to provide customized capabilities for different clients, and IP67 sealing and a 6-foot drop spec show that this is a computer for serious jobs. But there is more: Black Diamond plans on releasing the Switchbaack with not only a 1 GHz Celeron M processor to run Windows XP, the UMPC version, or even Linux, but also a secondary processor on its own board that runs Windows Mobile, similar to what DualCor had planned for its dual-platform device. Our take: We've felt from the start that the UMPC platform was uniquely suited for rugged applications and have been waiting for such an implementation. If Black Diamond can deliver on its ambitious plans, this may well set a new trend in rugged mobile computing. -- Posted Friday, September 29, 2006

PSC announces Falcon 4400 Lite Mobile Computer
Data-collection technology and services provide PSC Inc. announced the Falcon 4400 Lite mobile computer, immediately available in the European Union. PSC views the new handheld as providing a RoHS migration path for companies still using older or DOS-based terminals. The Intel PXA255-powered, Windows Mobile or CE-based Falcon 4400 Lite is designed for retail in-store and warehouse environments, has 802.11g radio, and 26-key, 48-key, and 52-key keypad options, and is available with a solid state Linear Imager to deliver high density and standard range bar code reading in a durable, 5-foot drop spec, IP54-sealed package. A Lithium Ion battery allows users to execute a scan-intensive workday without a break. -- Posted Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Full review of the Hammerhead Xtreme
RuggedPCReview presents a full analysis of the DRS Tactical/WalkAbout Hammerhead Xtreme. This is the 8th generation of one of the rugged computing industry's most respected designs, now with updated technology and running the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005. The Hammerhead started life well over a decade ago as a tablet milled from a solid block of metal. It still is. What has changed since then, and is the Hammerhead still at the forefront of rugged machinery for computing in extreme environments? -- Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ExpressCard replacing PC Card
In the very first issue of Pen, we ran a feature on PCMCIA, those impossibly small cards that provided memory and other expansion to pen computers and PDAs. Today, PC Cards look huge and have largely been replaced. The PCMCIA itself has developed the ExpressCard standard to carry forward the benefits of 'plug-in' I/O cards to the next generation of personal computing devices, and announced that major notebook vendors have embraced ExpressCard technology as the modular expansion standard for their notebook systems. ExpressCard technology (see expresscard.org) is a high-performance, hardware expansion standard for mobile computers and replaces the current PC Card Standard. PC Card technology is the hardware expansion standard for more than 95 percent of all notebook computers Currently selling notebook computers with ExpressCard slots are Acer, Alienware, Apple, ASUS Computer, Averatec, Dell, Evesham, Fujitsu/Fujitsu Siemens, Itronix, HP, Lenovo, LG Electronics, Mouse Computer, MSI, PC-Koubou, Sony and Toshiba. -- Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006

RFID and face reco combined for security apps
American Barcode and RFID announced a new technology -- TETRAGATE -- that combines UHF RFID technology inside an employee ID card with biometric facial recognition. TETRAGATE recognizes people approaching from 60 feet away in a fraction of a second, reading up to 60,000 faces in a single second -- without people knowing their images are being scanned. In a world where security and surveillance issues create uneasiness on the best of days, a team of innovative security and technology experts have come together to create what is the most secure access control solution available for tracking human as well as physical assets on the same network. -- Posted Monday, September 25, 2006

Need a Mac with a touch screen?
You can get almost any Mac with a touch screen, just not from Apple. A company named Troll Touch retrofits your Mac with an analog resistive touch screen if you send it to them. -- Posted Monday, September 25, 2006

Motorola buys Symbol
Motorola and Symbol Technologies announced today "that the two companies have signed a definitive merger agreement, under which Motorola has agreed to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Symbol for $15 per share in cash. The transaction has a total equity value of approximately $3.9 billion on a fully-diluted basis. ... Upon completion of the transaction, Symbol will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Motorola and will be the cornerstone of Motorola's Networks and Enterprise business. Motorola intends to maintain Symbol's Holtsville, N.Y. headquarters, which will be the core of Motorola's global enterprise mobility business and serve as a center of excellence." Our take: We regret this development. In such "mergers" the smaller company almost always gets absorbed. Symbol, for decades, has been a (at times perhaps too) feisty innovator and competitor with a very well defined indentity and a lineup of terrific products. This development may well work just fine, but we mourn the loss of Symbol as an independent company. [read press release] -- Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quantum3D scores with US Army
Quantum3D, Inc., a provider of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS), open-architecture, realtime visual computing products and solutions, announced that the United States Army Operational Test Comman (USAOTC) has selected the Thermite Tactical Visual Computer for use in the operational test and evaluation of the Land Warrior (LW) Ensemble during the upcoming Limited User Test (LUT). -- Posted Monday, September 18, 2006

WSJ reports Symbol to be sold
Reuters: "Symbol Technologies Inc. , a maker of bar code and inventory scanning technology, is auctioning itself, and mobile phone company Motorola Inc. is the most likely buyer, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday."
-- Posted Monday, September 18, 2006

Panasonic introduces three new "business-rugged" Toughbooks
Panasonic introduced three new "business-rugged" Toughbooks: The ultraportable CF-W5, tablet alternative CF-T5, and the thin-and-light desktop replacement CF-Y5. The new models aim for durability, lightweight and maximum reliability by using magnesium alloy cases, flexible internal connectors and shock-mounted and removable hard drives. "Business-rugged" means they withstand a one foot drop. The notebooks will ship with optional integrated radio modems to access to the EV-DO networks of Sprint or Verizon or UMTS/HSDPA-based solutions from Cingular Wireless. The Toughbook W5 has an integrated DVD/CD-RW combo drive, 12.1 inch anti-glare LCD, weighs 3.1 pounds, and uses an ultra-low voltage Intel Core Solo processor with battery life of more than eight hours. The Toughbook T5, named a "Tablet PC Alternative" has a 12.1 inch touch-screen LCD, image rotation software, an ergonomic hand strap, and a weight of 3.5 pounds. The Toughbook Y5 has a 14.1 inch display, weighs 3.7 pounds, has six hours of battery life, a built-in DVD/CD-RW optical drive, Core Duo, and multiple wireless connectivity options and is essentially a lightweight desktop replacement. -- Posted Thursday, September 14, 2006

Twinhead adds two new semi-ruggeds
Twinhead announced the addition of two new Durabook semi-rugged notebook computers to its product line of affordable semi-ruggeds. The Durabook D13RI has a 13.3" wide screen display which gives users a choice of the increasingly popular wide screen format; the D14RI offers a new enhanced rugged design in the popular Durabook 14" format. The new Durabooks have an Intel Pentium M processor 740 or higher with 533MHz FSB speed and 2MB L2 Cache, or a Celeron-M 350 CPU, and a DVD/CDRW combo or DVD dual drive. The Durabook D13RI is starts at $1,099.00 and the D14RI is priced starting at $999.00. Both notebooks are available from national computer distributors, retailers and online sources. Shown is the Durabook D13RI. [See capsule reviews of the Durabook D13RI and D14RI] -- Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2006

LXE scores Cisco certification
LXE's MX7 and MX3X handheld computers have been certified for Cisco Compatible Extensions Version 3. This is big news for LXE & LXE's Cisco customers as the certification ensures that those handhelds will interoperate and support key features of Cisco WLAN infrastructure products. LXE feels it is the first to achieve this level of certification in the rugged mobile industry. [see full release] -- Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dorfman Pacific implements Symbol solution for paperless warehouse operations
Symbol and RedLine Solutions, Inc. announced that Dorfman Pacific, one of the largest full-line headwear and handbag companies in the world, deployed Symbol's rugged mobile computers and Wi-Fi network infrastructure at its 275,000 square-foot warehouse in Stockton, California to create a streamlined, paperless warehouse operation that has reduced errors and increased staff productivity and profitability. Symbol's rugged MC9060-G mobile computers and VRC6900 rugged vehicle/fixed-mount mobile computers were selected for their ability to withstand the everyday use and abuse in the warehouse environment where hats and handbags are stored and shipped to retail customers. -- Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Intermec releases small, rugged CN3 WinMo 5.0 handheld
Intermec introduced the CN3, at 6.3 x 3.4 x 1.2 inches perhaps the smallest rugged mobile computer in the world. The CN3 features voice and high-speed data communications capabilities via Bluetooth, 3G WAN (either GSM/EDGE or CDMA/EV-DO) and Cisco-compatible WiFi, has integrated GPS and a choice between area imager and a 1.3 megapixel camera. This means the CN3 can scan and decode any kind of barcode or capture still images, such as signatures or video images that can be stored for later use or sent immediately anywhere in the world. The overall idea is to replace the mobile worker's cell phone, GPS unit, pager, laptop, camera with a single device. Mapping software can provide turn-by-turn directions for direct package delivery, direct store delivery and to guide field service personnel to their destinations. The CN3 uses Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 with the Messaging and Security Feature Pack, including Direct Push Technology for wireless email. It has a QWERTY keyboard or an optional numeric keypad, 128 MB RAM, a 2D imager for scanning bar codes and a full-shift battery, all housed in a rugged case that is rain and dust resistant. -- Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Intermec introduces compact vehicle-mount CV30
Intermec introduced the CV30, a flexible, rugged, fixed-mount computer that offers a choice of Microsoft Windows CE.NET 5.0 or Windows Mobile 5.0, multiple mounting options, Cisco Compatible WiFi, Bluetooth and RFID support. The CV30 is more than 50 percent smaller than most vehicle-mounted devices, complies with new OSHA standards to provide maximum unobstructed visibility for forklift operators, features a sharp, 6.4 inch color display and easy-to-use keyboard that support virtually any application. The touch-sensitive display is heated, making it ideal for cold warehouse operations. The CV30 is the core of Intermec's RFID-enabled Forklift of the Future concept, which turns forklifts into powerful, real-time communications hubs capable of increasing warehouse efficiency and productivity. It has two styles of vehicle mounting, as well as a desktop mount for work-in-progress and other stationary applications and a wall-mount option for time and attendance applications.
-- Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Intermec wins large Canada Bread account
Canada Bread Company, Ltd., has selected a state-of-the-art direct-store-delivery system from Intermec to optimize its delivery operations. Toronto-based Canada Bread is a leading manufacturer and marketer of fresh bread, rolls, bagels and sweet goods, and specialty fresh pasta and sauces, marketed under a number of leading brand names, including Dempster's, Olafson's, POM, Ben's and Olivieri throughout Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. Canada Bread has approximately 1,200 routes and plans to have the new system fully deployed over the next 24 months. The first phase of the roll-out, in one of its four regions, is expected to be complete by the end of Q4 2006. The company's new system relies on Intermec CK60 mobile computers and PB42 portable printers for complete and accurate information management. Both the CK60 and PB42 are designed specifically to withstand even the toughest and longest delivery routes. The wireless PB42 prints receipts at each customer stop and eliminates duplicate billing. Intermec Education Services was selected to provide training and assist with implementation of the new technology. -- Posted Monday, September 11, 2006

Digital signature capture on Blackberry
Standard Register's ExpeData Digital Solutions group now offers digital signature capability for BlackBerry via an ISV toolkit that can integrate the capability into BlackBerry-based applications, enabling mobile workers to capture digital signatures and route them wirelessly to back-end systems. The ExpeData solution enables mobile workers to obtain a signature on paper, using a special ballpoint pen. The signature is also captured electronically by the pen and transmitted via Bluetooth to the BlackBerry. Images of the signature are viewable on the BlackBerry screen and a record of the date and time associated with the signature is created. The ExpeData toolkit -- comprised of a Logitech digital pen and pocket-sized digital paper pad -- allows for convenient and cost-effective signature capture, utilizing Anoto functionality. -- Posted Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Psion Teklogix provides Hydro One with rugged solution for Meter Pilot
Psion Teklogix announced it is working to provide Hydro One Networks Inc. with a customized rugged mobile computing solution for its field service employees as part of its Smart Meter program. Hydro One Networks Inc., headquartered in Toronto, owns and operates one of the ten largest electricity transmission and distribution systems in North America. Hydro One began installing approximately 15,000 smart meters recently in the Towns of Georgina and East Gwillimbury just north of Toronto to comply with the provincial government's initiative to have electricity distribution companies install smart meters in all Ontario homes and small businesses by 2010. Psion Teklogix' WORKABOUT PRO computers are being used by Hydro One installers to support the smart meter installations. Hydro One will use this pilot project of 15,000 smart meters to evaluate the Psion mobile solution for possible use to support the mass deployment of smart meters to its 1.2 million customers province-wide. -- Posted Wednesday, September 6, 2006

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    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.

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