Advanced rugged handheld with 3.5G/3.75G support (by Conrad Blickenstorfer)
Note: On December 10, 2012, Intermec announced that it will be acquired by Honeywell. [See Intermec press release]
On June 3rd, 2009, Intermec introduced the CN50 mobile computer as "a new class of device" and "game-changing product," referring to the small, light and rugged computer's support of 3.5G and 3.75G wireless wide area network HSUPA radio technology that can result in data upload speeds up to five times faster than any other mobile computer available at the time of the CN50's release.
Intermec President and CEO Pat Byrne himself introduced the new device in a web conference on June 3rd, emphasizing the importance of secure standards, customer satisfaction, maximized ROI as well as total cost of ownership, all mandating a new generation of smaller, lighter mobile computers with advanced performance and features.
The CN50 delivers in the form of a device that Intermec says is 25% smaller and lighter than similar mobile products, with dimensions of 6.05 x 2.9 x 1.1 inches and weighing about 11 ounces. That's very compact by rugged handheld standards indeed, and the CN50, on top of including more functions than a Swiss army knife, is amazingly tough to boot. It can survive 5-foot drops, operate in a wide temperature range of 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and is sealed to IP54 specifications, which means it's pretty much dustproof and can survive water spray from all directions.
On the wireless side, the CN50 contains Intermec's "Flexible Network" technology that can be programmed to support either 3.5G CDMA or 3.75G UMTS networks, providing a degree of carrier independence. The device, of course, also includes Bluetooth and WiFi as well as a 2-channel GPS receiver. Further proof that this is state-of-the-art devcice are the integrated 3.1-megapixel camera with flash, an integrated digital compass for enhanced GPS functionality, and an accelerometer that handles display orientation and potentially much more.
For data capture, there is an integrated 1-megapixel area imager with laser framer and aiming that supports omnidirectional scanning and decode of 1D, 2D, composite and postal codes as well as signature capture. The CN50 also supports eMDI (Enhanced Mobile Document Imaging), an optional Intermec software application that lets mobile workers capture full page paper documents with the CN4's imager and convert them into electronic documents right at the point-of-transaction. These high-quality document images can then be transmitted to back office applications in real-time, potentially simplifying workflows, shorten billing cycles, and providing customer service and shipping operations ready access to documents for faster processing.
The CN50 is available with either a numeric or QWERTY with backlit keypad. Among other accessories are a vehicle holder, quad battery charger, four-bay multi-dock for charge only or charge and Ethernet, as well as various RAM mount options.
Whereas mobile computers almost exclusively used Intel XScale processors in the past, there are now other options. The CN50 uses a multi-core architecture with a 528MHz ARM11-based main processor and an ARM9-based radio processor, likely a Qualcomm combo. It runs Windows Mobile 6.1, has 128MB of RAM and 512MB of Flash ROM, a 3.5-inch 240 x 320 pixel transflective display with LED backlight, but apparently no expansion slot(s).
The device is powered by either a standard 3.7V, 1,950mAh battery or an extended battery that packs 3,900mAH, but does not add to the size of the device.
In summary, the Intermec CN50 packs an awful lot of data capture, computing and communication functionality for mobile workers who rely on "hold & carry" customer interaction and appreciate a single device that combines all their needed tools into a single, rugged, compact package.
In May of 2010, Intermec announced that the CN50 would get a RAM upgrade to 256MB, optional EDGE support for areas where 3G wireless is not available, and a choice of EA11 1D/2D or EA21 imagers.
Below is an Intermec video that describes the Intermec CN50:
Specifications Intermec CN50
Added 06/2009, updated 05/2010, 04/2011
Main: ARM11/528 MHz; radio: ARM 9/528MHz
Windows Mobile 6.1
256MB/512MB (350MB free for user)
Transflective TFT with LED backlight
3.5"/240 x 320 pixel QVGA
QWERTY or Numeric backlit keypad
onscreen and directional control
14 to 122F
26 5-foot drops per MIL-STD-810G
2.9 x 6.05 x 1.1
11 oz. (12 oz. with extended battery)
3.7V, 1,950 standard or 3.7V, 3,900 extended mAH Li-Ion
USB 2.0, EA11 1D/2D Area Imager or EA21 imager, 3.1mp camera with flash
802.11b/g WiFi, Bluetooth Class II Ver. 2.1 + EDR, Integrated 3.75G UMTS/HSPA:HSUPA, 3.5G CDMA:1xEV-DO Rev. A (convertible via Flexible Network software), EDGE support available,, 12-channel GPS, digital compass, accelerometer