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

September 2016

Xplore: With Android for Work, rugged tablets will work better
Xplore points out that stock Android isn't necessarily very suitable for work, but Android for Work is (See What is Android for Work?), and that requires the presence of certain APIs. Xplore says that Android devices intended for work *should* be certified to support the standard Google APIs required for Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions to do their job. Such solutions provide the critical software infrastructure that organizations of all sizes, and across all industries, require on their mobile devices . And MDM/EMM solutions from MobileIron, SOTI, and AirWatch by VMWare all leverage Android for Work middleware to provide the security and device management that enable workers’ Android mobile devices to be safe and up-to-date. [See Xplore's With Android for Work, Your Rugged Tablets Will Work Better for You] -- Posted Friday, September 30, 2016

A good thing to peruse: Microsoft's support lifecycle for embedded systems
When it comes to operating systems, the end of what Microsoft calls mainstream and extended support doesn't necessarily mean people will stop using them. One in ten PC users is still on Windows XP, and nearly half are still on Windows 7. It's a bit different in industrial and enterprise applications where service and support can be big issues. So on the handheld systems side of things, mainstream for Windows Embedded CE 6.0 ended 4/9/2013 and extended support will end 4/10/2018. And for Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 mainstream support ended 1/13/2015, and extended support will end 1/14/2020. [See detailed list of Microsoft's embedded systems support lifecycles] -- Posted Friday, September 30, 2016

DURABOOK rugged computers improve railroad industry productivity
GammaTech Computer Corporation reports that the company offers the railroad industry a complete DURABOOK line of rugged computing solutions to improve productivity, including inspections; maintenance and repair; crew management; safety and regulatory compliance; RFID locomotive and yard resource tracking; mapping; computer-aided dispatch; cargo and inventory management, and more. Built to MIL-STD-810G guidelines for drop, shock, spill, and dust protection, with many models having an IP65 rating, GammaTech's line includes the R11 fully rugged tablet, the SA14 and S15AB rugged notebooks, and the R8300 fully rugged notebook.[See GammaTech USA media release] -- Posted Thursday, September 29, 2016

Full review: Handheld Nautiz X2 rugged mobile Android device
The global demand for smartphone-like handhelds with industrial durability and data collection capabilities is on the rise. These devices look and work like modern smartphones, but are far more durable and won't break on the job. RuggedPCReview tested the Handheld Group's Nautiz X2, and found it to be a practical solution for anyone who needs contemporary Android smartphone functionality at work and in the field. With a footprint roughly the same as that of the iPhone 7 Plus, the attractively styled Nautiz X2 remains manageable in size and weight, and is rugged enough to be used in any environment. [See full review of the Handheld Group Nautiz X2] -- Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Coastal Pipco improves inventory management with Janam mobile computers
Janam Technologies LLC, announced that Coastal Pipco, a wholesale distributor for agriculture and landscape irrigation systems, is using XM5 rugged mobile computers from Janam to improve inventory management and sales operations. With its focus on delivering superior customer service, Coastal Pipco worked closely with systems integrator RedLine Solutions to choose a rugged device that will mobilize its workforce, reduce manual data entry and maximize return on investment. Janam’s XM5 was selected because it is powerful, easy-to-use and affordable. [See Janam media release] -- Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Universal Stylus Initiative releases Specification 1.0
The Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) has announced the availability of the USI 1.0 Stylus and Device Specification that provides independent hardware vendors (IHVs) and OEMs for the first time an industry standard, non-proprietary, active stylus protocol. This will enable a new generation of active styluses that allow a consistent, customizable and interoperable experience across make, model and form-factor. The USI 1.0 Specification also enables new usages for active styluses, such as multiple styluses operating simultaneously on a single device. The USI spec can be implemented on a wide range of touch-enabled devices, including phones, tablets, computing and entertainment platforms. [See USI media release and RuggedPCReview's What led to the Universal Stylus Initiative] -- Posted Monday, September 26, 2016

20 years of Toughbooks
Back in late 1997 we reviewed the Panasonic CF-01 tablet and wondered "while other notebooks carry noble, descriptive designations like "ThinkPad" or "PowerBook," ... for Panasonic it's all CF." In 2002 RuggedPCReview EIC Conrad Blickenstorfer wrote "Tough as Nails — Panasonic's Toughbooks, A High Tech Success Story" after a trip to Panasonic's facilities in Japan. He reported how 1996 was a milestone for Panasonic, with an order from Lucent for 7,000 Panasonic CF-25s. Though the CF-25 didn't carry the Toughbook logo, it really was the first of what would later become the storied Toughbook line. So that makes it 20 years. Congratulations are in order. -- Posted Monday, September 26, 2016

Xplore Technologies gets additional ultra-rugged tablet order for ongoing U.S. military project
Xplore Technologies announced a $1.1 million follow-on order for customized XC6 M2 tablet computers (see our review of the iX104 XC6). This order is the latest in a multi-year, multi-million-dollar mobility project begun with the United States military in 2012. With this most recent order, Xplore’s total revenue for this project stands at more than $10 million to date. [See Xplore media release] -- Posted Monday, September 26, 2016

Genilink awards mobile computing contract to Janam
Janam Technologies announced that its XT2 Rugged Touch Computer beat 12 competitive devices from eight mobile computing companies to win a multi-year supply agreement with GENILINK, a subsidiary of SGS, the world’s leading automotive inspection, certification and testing company. GENILINK will deploy more than 3,000 XT2 rugged mobile computers from Janam to improve its vehicle inspection processes. Playing a critical role in road safety and environmental protection, the company sought a rugged mobile solution that could provide maximum uptime, reliability and accuracy. [See Janam media release] -- Posted Monday, September 26, 2016

VIA releases rugged Android-based ARTiGO A830 for urban IoT deployments
VIA Technologies unveiled its newAndroid-based VIA ARTiGO A830 system for "streetwise" IoT deployments such as smart lockers, smart vending machines, and smart information kiosks and signage. With a ruggedized enclosure, wide operating temperature range of -4°F ~ 140°F, and surge and lightning protection, the system has been designed to deliver 24/7 reliability in even the most demanding outdoor environments. [See VIA media release and ARTiGO product page] -- Posted Monday, September 26, 2016

Intel small devices CPU: back to the past?
Back in April 2016, Intel cancelled its "Broxton"successor to the X86-based Atom "Cherry Trail" line of smartphone-class processors (see AnandTech article). That seemed the end of Intel's low-end mobile device efforts. But would Intel get an ARM license instead? Apparently not out of the question (see Sep 19 PCWorld). Which is interesting, as Intel once bought the then-formidable StrongARM processor business from the old Digital Equipment Corporation. StrongARM chips were used in the Apple Newton among many others. Intel went on to launch the next-gen StrongARM — XScale — in 2000. XScale-based PXA processors became the default go-to chip for virtually all Pocket PCs and industrial handhelds. In 2006, Intel sold XScale to Marvell, which, however, quickly lost the handheld processor segment to QualComm, Samsung, nVidia and such. So we may yet see Intel back in the ARM business. -- Posted Monday, September 26, 2016

A couple of days at Dell Rugged in Austin, Texas
Dell is best known as one of the world's top-three PC vendors, shipping tens of millions every year. What is less well known is that Dell also makes rugged laptops, convertibles and tablets, those being the Latitude 12 Rugged Extreme and Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme, the Latitude 14 Rugged, and the Latitude 12 Rugged Tablet. RuggedPCReview had the chance to visit Dell's testing grounds, Global Command Center, and the Dell Rugged labs. [See illustrated report on Dell Rugged] -- Posted Monday, September 26, 2016

Xplore completes MobileIron Android MDM compatibility testing
Xplore announced that it has successfully completed the MobileIron Android Self Testing Program with its XSLATE D10 fully rugged tablet PC. The program is designed for manufacturers to verify whether their devices support the Google standard APIs, which are used by MobileIron to enable enterprise features such as password policies, encryption, and certificate management. Bryan Bell, VP, Engineering, Xplore, said “Xplore’s goal is to provide an easily managed enterprise mobility experience for our customers, whether they’re using a few Xplore rugged tablets to support small municipality workflows or deploying thousands of Xplore rugged tablets to drive complex global operations." [See Xplore media release] -- Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2016

SquareTrade Labs breakability test on iPhone 7
SquareTrade, which sells electronics protection plans, performed their "breakability" test on the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhones passed the dunk test (1 meter for up to 30 minutes) but did "suffer some audio muffling afterward." In the tumble test, the iPhone 7 had scuffed corners and a camera lens crack, the 7 Plus just a small crack. The iPhone 7 bent at 170 pounds of pressure, the iPhone 7 Plus at 180. Both iPhones shattered on their first facedown drop and were unusable after three drops. [See SquareTrade iPhone 7 & 7 Plus Breakability test result] -- Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Handheld updates ultra-rugged Algiz 10X tablet with full-HD procap screen, concurrent GPS
The Handheld Group announced it has upgraded its 10.1-inch Algiz 10X ultra-rugged tablet computer from a 1366 x 768 pixel resistive touch screen to a 1920 x 1080 pixel 10-point capacitive multi-touch screen with optional active capacitive pen. Handheld also upgraded the positioning system of the Algiz 10X from a u-blox NEO-6T to a u-blox NEO-M8N with concurrent GPS and GLONASS support. The upgraded version uses Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB (64-bit). [See Handheld media release and Algiz 10X product page] -- Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Full review: Janam XT2 ultra-rugged touch computer
There's an increasing global demand for smartphone-style handhelds with industrial durability and extensive data collection technology. These are devices that look and work like modern smartphones, but won't break in the field and on the job. RuggedPCReview tested Janam's XT2, a super-tough, IP67-sealed handheld with an excellent 5-inch multi-touch display, integrated GPS, NFC/RFID reading, industrial grade scanning, and optional mag stripe reading and mobile broadband. We reviewed the Android version of the Janam XT2, but the impressive device is also available with Windows 10 IoT Mobile Enterprise. [See full review of the Janam XT2] -- Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2016

DT Research launches DT395 rugged tablets with lower TCO than consumer devices
DT Research announced two new DT395 Series 8.9-inch tablet that the company says can have a lower total cost of ownership than consumer-grade tablets over the lifetime of the product. Powered by a quad-core Intel "Cherry Trail" Atom x5-8300 processor, the capacitive multi-touch tablets offer full 1920 x 1200 HD resolution, IP65 sealing, numerous integrated options, and run Windows 10 IoT Enterprise. [See DT Research media release and RuggedPCReview description, analysis and specs of the DT395GS and DT395CR] -- Posted Monday, September 19, 2016

JLT Mobile Computers boosts performance of its VERSO10+
JLT Mobile Computers announced that it has upgraded its VERSO+ 10 rugged mobile vehicle computer’s processor to the quad-core Intel "Bay Trail" E3845. The newer and much more powerful processor enhances the performance of the VERSO+ 10 computer (see RuggedPCReview's report on the VERSO+10) by approximately 2.5x compared to the Atom D2550 processor used in older models. Note that JLT also offers an Intel Haswell-powered high-performance option for the VERSO+10; this new E3845-based version boosts the power of the low-end model. [See JLT media release and VERSO+10 product page] -- Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Analysis: GammaTech's updated DURABOOK R11 with keyboard
In July, GammaTech announced it was now making available a special keyboard to go with its thin, lightweight DURABOOK R11 rugged tablet. That way, the R11 could work not only as a tablet, but also as a laptop, making it a more complete high-performance mobile computing solution. The resulting combination can be used for any mobile application subject to constant movement, bumpy rides, or use in damp or dusty areas, and where real-time information and updating is crucial. RuggedPCReview has now had the chance to examine GammaTech's solution. [See GammaTech DURABOOK R11 + keyboard] -- Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Panasonic upgrades Toughpad FZ-M1
Panasonic announced it has updated their 7-inch Toughpad FZ-M1 from a 1.6GHz Intel 4th generation Core i5-4302Y to a 1.1GHz Intel 6th generation Core i5-6Y57 as well as ancillary tech updates, a higher resolution 8mp camera, and a switch to Windows 10 Professional. Battery life is now up to 9 hours. List price is US$2,749. [See Panasonic media release and RuggedPCReview's report on the original Toughpad FZ-M1] -- Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Rugged light bulbs are here!
Now you can get rugged light bulbs! While incandescent bulbs are on their way out, the bulb form factor isn't, and that means light bulbs that break, shatter, get crushed or otherwise fail due to environmental impact or conditions. Not what one needs in the field, or anywhere. Which is why the folks at Lighting Science came up with the Durabulb, a shatter-resistant LED light bulb that in testing survived a drop it from an eight story building and being hit with a tennis racket. [See Lighting Science media release and demo video] -- Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2016

MediaTek: meet the chip maker that has powered your favorite gadgets for years
TechRadar has published an interesting article on MediaTek, a major chip company that remains relatively little known, despite its processors powering hundreds of millions of devices (including a good number of the rugged handhelds we've been reviewing). [Read MediaTek: meet the chip maker that has powered your favorite gadgets for years] -- Posted Friday, September 9, 2016

GammaTech's rugged DURABOOK SA14 notebook gets comprehensive tech updates
GammaTech announced that it has made some significant updates to its popular multi-use DURABOOK SA14 14-inch rugged notebook computer. Updates include a choice from four Intel 6th generation Skylake turbo processors featuring Intel HD Graphics 520; greater system memory; enhanced wireless/communications capability; added interface options; the inclusion of Microsoft Windows 10 operating system; and a longer warranty period. [See GammaTech DURABOOK SA14 product page] -- Posted Thursday, September 8, 2016

Olympus goes rugged with their new Vanta handheld X-ray Fluorescence Analyzer
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a technique used for non-destructive analysis of all sorts of materials. In essence, an XRF device shoots an x-ray beam that interacts with the atoms in the sample, and can then report on the elements and concentrations in the sample (see Wiki). Olympus realized that such XRF analyzers needed to be rugged too, and introduced the Vanta Series of XRF analyzers. Vanta can handle 4-foot drops, 14 to 122F temperatures, and is IP65 sealed. [See Olympus media release and Vanta product page] -- Posted Thursday, September 8, 2016

Janam Launches XT2 with Microsoft Windows 10
Janam Technologies LLC announced that Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT Mobile Enterprise operating system is now available on its 5-inch XT2 rugged touch computers. Windows 10 IoT Mobile Enterprise, which is the replacement for Windows Mobile and Windows Embedded Handheld, provides maximum security, reliability and performance, and enables interoperability between the XT2 and IoT devices, independent of operating system protocols and platforms. Janam CEO Harry B. Lerner said "We’re thrilled to be among the first companies in our industry to bring Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system to customers who require it." [See Janam media release] -- Posted Thursday, September 8, 2016

Apple Event
Here's the scoop: Apple Watch Series 2 with new chip. It's now waterproof to 166 feet, with brighter screen (1,000 nits) and GPS. No word of battery life. iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with new chip, IP67, dual rear cameras on the 7 Plus (one wide angle, one 2x tele, some nice effects), 3.5mm audio jack replaced; use lightening connector instead. Wireless AirPods optional. Stereo speakers. Faster A10 chip, somewhat longer battery life. Storage doubled to 16GB/128GB/256GB, pricing same as 6s/6s Plus. Screen sizes and resolutions unchanged. A number of tweaks. Oh, and Super Mario now runs on iOS. We miss Steve. -- Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2016

JLT Mobile Computers selected by one of the largest transportation service providers in the world
JLT Mobile Computers announced it has completed delivery of a significant order won in March 2016 by one of the largest transportation service providers in the world. The order was for JLT1214P rugged forklift computers that will be deployed in the customer cross-dock forklifts at sites around the United States. The company selected JLT’s rugged computing solution despite fierce competition from established industry players. This deal represents a key milestone for JLT’s USA subsidiary, established in December 2014, and indicates excellent market acceptance of the JLT1214P computer. [See JLT media release] -- Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Getac's successful transformation into a solutions provider
DigiTimes published an in-depth article on how Getac analyzed its business back in 2008, transformed its business focus to value-added niche market products while continuing to enhance its core technologies and capabilities, leading the company to its current position as a top three global rugged computer brand. [See "Beyond PC parts supplier: Getac Technology enabling business transformation to bring the maximum values of solutions and services"] -- Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Swedish Aqeri launches rugged military displays
Aqeri, a Swedish producer of rugged computer and communication equipment for extreme environments, introduced two new in-house developed displays. The 20-inch 92210 (1600 x 1200) and the 32-inch 92210 (1920 x 1080) are both IP65 sealed, have wide viewing angles, meet a large number of environmental tests, have various mounting options, and are perfectly suited for Army, Navy, Air Force or other demanding applications that require reliable components to perform under the most demanding conditions. [See Aqeri news] -- Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2016

IDC: Basic wearables soar, smart ones not so much
IDC reports that shipments of wearable devices reached 22.5 million in the second quarter of 2016, growing 26% year-over-year as new wearable uses (including enterprise productivity potential) slowly emerge. However, while basic wearables (mostly fitness trackers) surged ahead, smart wearables declined. Fitbit stayed in first place with 5.7 million shipped, but Apple tanked from 3.6 million down to just 1.6 million. [See IDC media release] -- Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Intel introduces Kaby Lake, the 7th generation of Core processors
In August, Intel officially introduced the first few of its 7th generation Core processors, codenamed "Kaby Lake." That comes at a time where the news about PCs generally isn't very good, where Microsoft has a very hard time convincing users to switch to Windows 10, and where it's becoming increasingly more difficult for vertical market hardware manufacturers to keep up with Intel's rapid-fire release of new generations of high-end processors. [read full RuggedPCReview blog article] -- Posted Monday, September 5, 2016

Rugged PC maker Getac Technology reports on-year growth in August revenues
According to DigiTimes, Getac Technology reported revenues of US$56.2 million for August 2016, increasing 16.6% from a year earlier. Accumulated 2016 revenues through August totaled US$381 million, increasing 5% from a year earlier. Getac posted revenues of US$570 million for all of 2015. -- Posted Monday, September 5, 2016

Wacom releases reflective electrostatic Bamboo Omni pen
Projected capacitive multi-touch is terrific, unless you want to write, do art or do anything else that requires a precise pen. Wacom is now addressing this issue with their new 5.6-inch long Bamboo Omni pen with a super-fine 1.9mm tip. It uses Reflective Electro Static (RES) technology that does not need a Bluetooth connection, but does have a rechargeable battery. The pen is supposed to work with most iPads, the iPhone 6, and most Android devices without pairing. Available November 016 for US$49.95. [See Wacom Bamboo Omni] -- Posted Thursday, September 1, 2016

Moxa unveils rugged computers for marine integrated automation systems
German Moxa has introduced the MC-110 Series of marine computers as part of its extensive line of marine computing solutions. The very compact MC-110 systems are marine-grade, Zone 2-compliant Intel quad-core E3800-based fanless DIN-rail automation computers designed to maximize connectivity and communications. The MC-1100 Series also supports “Moxa Hardware Monitoring” for device I/O status monitoring and alerts, system temperature monitoring and alerts, and system power management. [See Moxa MC-110 Series] -- Posted Thursday, September 1, 2016

What happened in rugged computing 5 years ago: September 2011
In September 2011, Socket Mobile shipped its 50,000th SoMo 650 handheld computer, the Handheld Group have its rugged Algiz XRW a touch screen, GE introduced the Wolverine III rugged panel PC, GammaTech the S15C2 semi-rugged laptop, and Microsoft previewed Windows 8. Qualcomm was working with Microsoft to have their Snapdragon CPUs power the first gen of Windows 8 PCs, the Trimble Nomad got an IP68 rating, Wacom introduced the "Inkling" pen to bridge the gap between paper sketching and digital drawing. Lowe's shocked the industry by buying 42,000 iPhones instead of rugged handhelds, just after United Airlines deployed 11,000 iPads. We reviewed the Getac X500, LXE was pushing its 2.2-pound Marathon Field Computer, Psion's Workabout Pro earned Apriva certification, and HP killed Palm's webOS devices. [See RuggedPCReview September 2011 archives] -- Posted Thursday, September 1, 2016

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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."