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General Dynamics Itronix GD400

Rugged enterprise handheld computer combines smartphone, computing, and data collection functionality
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

On August 18, 2011, General Dynamics Itronix announced the GD400, a versatile, industrial-grade rugged mobile handheld that provides excellent connectivity and delivers advanced computing and communication functionality for a wide range of mobile field service, public safety, transportation, public services and logistics applications. In essence, with the very modular GD400, GD-Itronix makes available a device that can serve both as a very tough smartphone as well as bring business computing applications into the field.

In terms of size and weight, the GD-Itronix GD400 is a bit larger and heavier than consumer smartphones, but you can easily carry around all day. Measuring 3.1 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches and weighing about 13 ounces, the GD400 still fits into most pockets. And it's large enough for a roomy 3.7-inch display with full 640 x 480 pixel VGA resolution, as well as an expanded keypad.

Under the hood sits an 800MHz TI OMAP AM3715 Sitara ARM Cortex 8 processor with a PowerVR graphics accelerator. That's the same chip that powers the high-end Trimble Ranger 3 that RuggedPCReview.com recently examined and found to be an excellent performer. For software, GD-Itonix chose Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5.3 that extends all the benefits of the Windows CE platform, such as leverage, software tools, experience, security, and compatibility. Note, though, that the GD400 uses a resistive digitizer, and not the capacitive kind now used on most consumer smartphones. The benefit here is that it can be used with any old stylus and even in the rain.

There is 256MB of RAM, 2GB of onboard Flash, and a microSD slot for extra storage. The high-capacity, replaceable Li-Ion is good for more than 8 hours on a charge, there's a 3.2-megapixel auto-focus camera with full LED illuminators, and also a remarkable array of integrated sensors (accelerometer, digital compass, gyroscope, light sensor, proximity) that can all be employed for innovative custom software applications. For wireless there's CCXV4-certified 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth, and also SiRFstarIV-based GPS and a 1D/2D omni-directional imager. There are also 5-band UMTS/quad-band GSM or CDMA EVDO Rev A radio options for full voice/data functionality.

Also interesting are the "snap modules" available for the GD400. For now there's a selection of either a USB or a DB9 RS232 module, depending on the intended application.

The GD400's expanded keypad is well organized and combines a numeric keypad (gray keys) with a QWERTY thumb-type keypad (black keys), as well as a 4-way navigation disc, Windows and function keys, and phone answer and hang-up keys.

On the ruggedness side, the GD-Itronix GD400 delivers with an operating temperature range of between 14 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit that is wide enough for most applications; repeated 5-foot drops onto concrete (which makes sense for a device that might slip out of your hand when used as a phone); IP54 sealing, which means it's protected against dust and also against water sprayed from all directions; and the GD400 passed a 250 tumble test from half a meter (1.7 feet), which means if you run around with it and drop it, no big deal. GD-Itronix also lists electrostatic discharge protection levels, and a large number of regulatory approvals.

The official General Dynamics Itronix press release states that by "improving worker productivity, the eight-ounce GD400 handheld enables mobile professionals to scan bar codes, receive work assignments, check email, communicate with the office and send pictures, videos and text messages, easily and efficiently. That will be the case. And more, as the GD400 combines functionality that usually requires more than one device.

Added/updated Added 08/2011
Form-factor Rugged handheld computer
CPU/Speed AM3715 Sitara ARM Cortex-A8, 800MHz
OS Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5.3
RAM/ROM 256MB SDRAM memory, 2GB onboard Flash + microSD card expansion
Card slots 1 microSD card
Display type Sunlight-readable TFT with 165 nits backlight
Display size/res 3.7"/ 480 x 640 pixel
Digitizer/pens Resistive touch
Keyboard/keys High reliability 43-key keypad ultra-white backlight
Navigation touch screen, keypad, stylus
Housing Unknown
Operating Temp 14 to 122F (-10 to 50C)
Sealing IP54, IEC529
Shock 5-foot (26 drops on each edge, corner and face to concrete)
Tumble 1000 times at .5 m (2000 drops), IEC 60068-2-32
Humidity 5% to 95% RH non-condensing
Regulatory FCC Parts 15B, 15C, 15E, 22H, 24E, 27; IC RSS-210, RSS-132, RSS-133; EN 300 328, EN 301 489, EN 55022, EN55024, EN301 511, EN301 908, EN300 440, EN301 893
Safety IEC/EN 60950-1, Laser Safety IEC 60825-1
ESD +/- 15k Vdc air discharge, +/-8k Vdc contacts
Size (WxHxD) 6.2 x 3.1 x 1.2 inches
Weight 0.76 lbs.
Power 3000 mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, "more than 8 hours"
Sensors Accelerometer, digital compass, gyroscope, light sensor, proximity
Camera 3.2-megapixel AF with dual LED flash and video capture
Interface USB or serial, mic
Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n (CCX V4), Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR; UMTS 3.5G HSPA+ or CDMA EVDO Rev, SiRFstarIV GPS, 2D imager
List price Starting at US$1,829
Web GD400 product page
Contact General Dynamics Itronix, 1-800-441-1309 or 1-954-846-3400
Windows Mobile Info
  • Windows Embedded Compact 7
  • Windows Embedded Handheld
  • Windows Phone 7
  • Windows Embedded CE 6.0 R3
  • Windows Mobile 6.5
  • Windows Mobile 6
  • Windows CE 6.0
  • Windows Mobile 5
  • Windows CE 5.0
  • Windows Mobile Smartphone
  • Windows Mobile 2003
  • Windows CE .Net
  • Windows for Pocket PC 2002
  • Pocket PC intro 2000
  • Windows CE H/PC Pro 1998
  • Windows CE 2.0 1997
  • GD-Itronix GD400