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CipherLab RS50 Series

Android-based rugged touch computer for data collection and communication jobs in the field
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

The RS50 Series of rugged Android touch computers was introduced by CipherLab in the first half of 2017 as an even tougher line of rugged and durable alternatives to consumer smartphones for enterprise and commercial customers than its existing RS30 family. CipherLab, which is headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, with offices in China, Germany and the USA, has been specializing in the design, manufacture, and marketing of Automatic Identification and Data Capture/Collection products and systems since 1988.

Unlike most of CipherLab's earlier handhelds that use Windows Mobile/Embedded Handheld or the company's own proprietary CipherLab Operating System, the RS50 Series is based on Android 6.0 "Marshmallow" with GMS (Google Mobile Services). Development support includes the CipherLab API for Android, the Android 6.0 SDK, and APIs for SAM and HTML5. Application software includes reader configuration, button assignment, MDS, software trigger keys, Xamarin Binding, CipherLab TE, App-Lock, SOTI MobiControl, and more. The overall idea is to provide all the simplicity and familiarity of a standard modern Android smartphone, but in a substantially ruggedized industrial-strength version.

RS50 Series handhelds measure 3.15 x 6.4 x 1.0 inches, and weigh about 11.5 ounces. That's a footprint just a bit larger than that of the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, but in a thicker and more substantial package due to the device's heavier construction and scanning options.

As far as tech specs go, the RS50 Series is powered by a non-specified 2.0GHz octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor. RAM is 2GB, and there's 16GB of Flash storage (both twice that of the earlier RS30 models). If more storage is required, the RS50 Series comes with a micro SD slot with SDHC support (up to 32GB cards).

The display measures 4.7 inches diagonally (same as an iPhone 7) and offers 1280 x 720 pixel "retina"-class resolution. No specifics on the type of LCD, but we assume it's an IPS LCD with perfect viewing angles from all sides and Gorilla Glass protection, as the RS30 Series has. Like virtually all modern Android devices the RS50 Series comes with capacitive multi-touch and can be operated even with gloves and with wet fingers. There are four standard Android buttons and two scanner keys for the optional unspecified 2D imager.

For wired communication, the RS50 Series provides USB 2.0 OTG. On the wireless side, there's fast dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi and dual-band Class 2 Bluetooth that supports both V2.1 + EDR and v4.1. There's integrated GNSS that supports GPS, GLONASS and BeiDou, and the device is also A-GPS ready for use with mobile broadband. The unit also comes with integrated 13.56MHz HF RFID.

RS50 devices come standard with a replaceable and rechargeable 3.8 Volt, 4,000 mAh Li-ion battery that is good for a minimum of 12 hours between charges. If that's not enough, an optional 5,300mAH pack lasts up to 16 hours.

Like all CipherLab handhelds, RS50 Series devices are significantly more rugged than any consumer smartphone. The RS50 can handle multiple 6-foot drops onto concrete, is sealed to IP65/67 specifications where the "6" means it's fully dust-proof, and the "5" that it is protected against low-pressure water jets from all directions. The specs claim IP65/IP67 where IP67 would mean the device could withstand full submersion. It's usually either one or the other, so we're not sure what Cipherlab means here.

The operating temperature range is a wide -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, good enough for operation virtually anywhere. CipherLab also quotes a "tumble spec" where the device survives 1,000 one-meter tumbles.

CipherLab offers an optional charging/communication cradle, USB snap-on cable, and a 4-slot charger.

What does all that make the RS50 Series? A modern Android handheld that offers consumer phone functionality but is far better protected than any standard smartphone. This is a handheld computer for scanning and data collection on the job and in the field.

Specifications CipherLab RS50 Series
Status Added 05/2017
Form-factor Rugged Android Touch Computer
CPU/Speed Octa-core ARM Cortex A53, 2.0GHz
OS Android 6.0 (GMS)
RAM/ROM 2GB RAM/16GB Flash
Card slots 1 x Micro SDHC card (up to 32GB), 2 x SIM, 1 x SAM
Display type Transmissive IPS LCD
Display size/res 4.7-inch/720 x 1280 pixel
Digitizer/pens Capacitive multi-touch with bare/wet/gloved finger and stylus inputs
Keyboard/keys Dedicated scan key, 4 programmable keys, volume up and down keys, left and right trigger keys, power key
Navigation Touch, stylus
Housing Impact-resistant plastic
Operating Temp -4° to 122°F (-20° to 50° C)
Sealing IP65/IP67
Shock Multiple 6 feet drops to concrete
Tumble 1000 tumbles from 1 meter
EMC CE, RoHS, REACH, WEEE, ErP, RCM, NCC, FCC, JRL, TBL, CTA
Electrostatic +/- 15 kV air discharge, +/- 8 kV contact discharge
Size (WxHxD) 3.15 x 6.4 x 1.0 inches (80 x 162 x 26 mm)
Weight 11.6 oz. (330 grams)
Power Rechargeable, rechargeable Li-Ion 3.8V, 4,000mAh, 15.2 whr ("min. 12 hours"); optional Li-Ion 3.8V, 5,300mAh, 20.1 whr ("min. 16 hours")
Camera 8mp auto-focus camera with LED flash
Sensors Light, proximity, accelerometer, e-compass
Interface USB 2.0 OTG, speaker
Scanner HF RFID 13.56MHz; optional 2D imager
Wireless Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth Class 2 dual-mode v2.1 + EDR/v4.1, GNSS (GPS, GLONASS< BeiDou), A-GPS, WWAN (GSM / GPRS / EDGE / WCDMA / HSPA / HSPA+ / LTE CAT6)
List price Inquire
Web CipherLab RS50 page
Product brochure CipherLab RS50 Series brochure (PDF)
Product specs CipherLab RS50 Series spec sheet (PDF)
CipherLab RS50 Series