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Juniper Mesa 2

The first full Windows device from Juniper Systems
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

Juniper Systems introduced the Mesa 2 rugged tablet on January 14, 2016. It's Juniper's first handheld to run full Windows — Windows 10 no less — and also the one with the largest display in the company's history. How did this come about?

Located in Logan, a small town in picturesque northern Utah, Juniper Systems is no stranger to steadily and reliably marching to the beat of its own drummer. And quite successfully so.

Take the original Mesa, for example. They called it a "rugged notepad" and it had a 5.7-inch screen. That was in 2010 when handhelds still had 3.5-inch screens and smartphones weren't much larger. It's probably fair to say that even Juniper didn't know just how far ahead of the game they were with their super-sized rugged handheld. Back then it defied conventional classification. But Juniper was right. Today, Apple and its competitors are selling hundreds of millions of big-screen smartphones.

Now, they did it again, with the Mesa 2. It's another unique rugged device with an even larger screen, one that even Juniper doesn't seem totally sure yet what it is. They call it a rugged tablet, but also a handheld product, which, of course, it is. Here's a table that shows how the new Mesa 2 compares to the original:

Juniper Systems Mesa 2 vs. original Mesa
Model Mesa 2 Mesa
Introduced 2016 2010
OS: Windows 10 (or 8.1) Windows Mobile 6.5.3
Processor 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3745 806MHz Marvell PXA320
CPU cores/threads 4/4 1/1
RAM 4GB 256MB
Mass storage 64GB or 128GB 4GB
Expansion slots SDXC Card SDHC Card
Display 7.0"/1280 x 800 (216 ppi) 5.7"/640 x 480 (140 ppi)
Digitizer Projected capacitive Resistive
Battery Life 12 to 15 hrs. up to 16 hrs.
Keypad nav pad + functions nav pad + functions
Size (inches) 5.4 x 8.5 x 1.4 5.3 x 7.9 x 2.0
Weight (lbs.) 2.0 (dual batteries) 2.2 (dual batteries)
Sealing IP68 (dustproof and totally waterproof) IP67 (dustproof and limited immersion)
Temp. range -4° to 122°F -4° to 122°F
Camera 2mp front + 8mp rear 3.2mp rear
USB 1 x USB 3.0 USB 2.0 host + client
Serial optional 1 x RS232
Bluetooth v4.0 Class 1.5 (100+ ft) v2.1 Class 1 (65 ft)
WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11b/g
WWAN 4G LTE 3G
Scanning Integrated (scan models) required extended cap

The major difference between the Mesa 2 and the original is not the screen — even though that does go from 5.7 to 7.0 inches diagonally — but that the Mesa 2 is a full Windows computer whereas the original ran Microsoft's Windows Mobile mini-OS. While Windows Mobile is very widely supported, full Windows has an inherently much broader range of software options. It makes perfect sense for Juniper to tap into that.

Below you can see what the Mesa 2 looks like from all sides. As we've come to expect from Juniper, it's a clean, attractive design with the trademark orange bumpers, one that's easy to figure out and use.

While the original Mesa was somewhat hard to classify with its, for the time, unusually large display, the Mesa 2 is clearly in the small tablet category. But unlike most current tablets, the Mesa 2's labeling and hardware controls show that Juniper designed it to primarily be used in portrait mode. So in that sense, it's still more like a handheld than a tablet.

As far as size and weight go, despite its larger screen the Mesa 2 has a footprint that is only a bit larger than that of the original Mesa. Thanks to advances in packaging and component miniaturization, its volume is actually 23% less and its weight 9% less than the original Mesa (both with standard and optional batteries). With the standard battery alone, the super-rugged Mesa 2 actually weighs just a pound and a half, no more than the original iPad.

We haven't had a Mesa 2 in the RuggedPCReview.com lab for testing yet, and so we don't have a sense whether it inherently feels like a tablet or a large handheld. We'll report on all this once we have a tester.

The Mesa 2 Rugged Tablet — an initial overview

Although the Mesa 2 is a full Windows tablet and larger than any Juniper device before, it continues Juniper's tradition of ruggedness and sensible, practical technology. Here's a look at the specs that matter:
  • The Mesa 2 has a wide operating temperature range of -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. While not quite as extreme as that of the company's Archer 2 rugged handheld (which can go as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 140 degrees), this makes the Mesa 2 suitable for deployment in just about any environmental setting, even freezers.

  • As far as the ever-popular drop testing goes, the Mesa 2 survives multiple drops from four feet onto concrete. That's again a bit less than the super-rugged Archer 2, but remarkable considering that the Mesa 2 is a larger, heavier device. And four feet is the distance a tablet would drop when in mobile use, so that makes sense.

  • For ingress protection, the Mesa 2 scores a perfect IP68. That's as high as it gets. The first number stands for protection against solids. 6 means the unit is totally protected against the finest dust. The second number is for the degree of protection from liquids. That scale goes from 0 (no protection) to 8 (totally immune to water, even indefinite immersion). The Mesa 2 is the only rugged tablet we know of with a certified IP68 rating. And it's totally waterproof even while ports are in use! Now THAT's impressive!

  • The Mesa 2's quad-core 1.33GHz Z3745 processor is part of Intel's acclaimed "Bay Trail" lineup. This chip was specifically designed by Intel to provide full Windows performance in small tablet devices such as the Mesa 2, while still delivering exceptional battery life.

  • The Mesa 2's 7.0-inch screen is larger than any current smartphone and definitely puts it into the small tablet range. Which is really needed if you want to run full Windows. The 1280 x 800 pixel resolution is super-sharp, right up there with what Apple calls "retina" resolution. We're talking 216 pixels per inch (ppi), far higher than the original Mesa's 140 ppi.

  • The Mesa 2 runs Windows 10 whereas all Juniper handhelds before it ran one or another version of Microsoft's Windows Mobile/Windows Embedded Handheld OS for small devices. That's a major step, but one that makes eminent sense. That's for two reasons. First, smaller devices are now powerful enough to run full Windows. Second, the days of Windows Mobile/Embedded Handheld are finally numbered. In Microsoft's new Windows 10 world, it will be replaced with with special versions of Windows 10. So Juniper is ahead of the game.

  • The Mesa 2 comes with projected capacitive multi-touch. Procap — with its super-easy tapping, panning, pinching and zooming — has taken the world by storm ever since the original iPhone. Procap isn't a total natural for Windows, even Windows 10, but Juniper says their version is glove and wet-capable and, importantly, comes with a narrow-tip stylus.

  • The Mesa 2's tablet-size housing allows for decent-sized batteries. The standard 39 watt-hour intelligent Lithium-Ion pack is good for 8-10 hours. An optional internal second 19 watt-hour battery boosts that to 12-15 hours.

  • As is Juniper's custom, the Mesa 2 is available as a standard model and also a special Mesa Geo model. And a Barcode model and an RFID model. All can accommodate Bluetooth 4.0 with enhanced data rate, dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi and 4G LTE radio of the Verizon or GSM variety. GEO models additionally have a 8.0mp camera with autofocus and Juniper's geotagging, as well as GPS with integrated real-time SBAS.
What does the Mesa 2 mean in the larger scheme of things? Traditionally, providers of rugged mobile computing gear have either concentrated on handhelds or on laptops and other larger devices. There has been relatively little overlap. However, things are changing, what with handhelds, driven by smartphone trends, getting ever larger, and tablets coming in all sizes. Then there's Microsoft's Windows 10 "Universal Application" software platform with a common Windows core, essentially obliterating the software differentiation between handheld and larger devices.

That Juniper is ready for this changed world doesn't surprise. The company has always had an unerring compass with regard both to what to preserve of the past and present, and what to embrace of the emerging future. Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, January 2016

Specifications Juniper Mesa 2
Form-factor Rugged tablet computer
Added/changed Added 01/2016
CPU Quad-core Intel Atom Z3745
CPU Speed 1.33 GHz (1.86GHz burst speed)
OS Microsoft Windows 8.1, Windows 10
Standard/Max RAM 4GB/4GB LPDDR3
Disk/drive 64GB or 128GB Flash storage options
Card slots User-accessible SD/SDXC Card
Display type High visibility Illumiview backlit TFT with Dragontrail glass
Display size/res 7.0"/1280 x 800 (portrait or landscape)
Digitizer/pens Projected capacitive multi-touch, glove and wet-capable, narrow-tip stylus
Keyboard/keys LED-backlit directional keys, 3 function keys, Windows, power, enter
Navigation touch, stylus, 4-way nav pad
Housing ABS plastic with overmolded bumpers
Operating Temp -4° to 122°F (-20° to 50°C)
Sealing IP68
Altitude MIL-STD-810G Method 500.5 Low Pressure
Shock Multiple 4-foot drop to concrete
Humidity MIL-STD-810G Method 507.5
Vibration MIL-STD-810G Method 514.6
Sand and dust MIL-STD-810G Method 510.5
Size (WxHxD) 5.4 x 8.5 x 1.4 inches (137 x 215 x 35 mm)
Weight 1.5 to 2.0 pounds (680 to 901 grams) depending on battery configuration
Power Removable 39 watt-hour Li-Ion ("8-10 hrs."), optional internal 19 watt-hour (adds hot-swap and 4-5 hours)
Camera (GEO models) Front: 2mp, rear: 8mp with LED illumination, geotagging
Scanning (Barcode models) Optional integrated 1D/2D imager
RFID (RFID models) Optional integrated RFID module with internal antenna
Interface 1 x USB 3.0, 3.5mm audio, dock (power, USB 2.0, HDMI), power, optional RS232 DB9 serial, dual mics, speaker
Wireless Options: Long-range Bluetooth Smart Ready v4.0 + EDR, Class 1.5, BLE support, dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, 4G LTE (GSM or Verizon), uBlox NEO-M8N GPS with integrated real-time SBAS (WAAS, EGNOS, etc.) and external antenna pass-through
Certifications FCC Class B, CE Marking (applicable EMC, R&TTE, and LVD directives), Industry Canada, EN60950 Safety, RoHS 2 Compliant
Product page Mesa 2 product page
Spec sheet Mesa 2 spec sheet (PDF)
Contact www.junipersys.com or call 1.435.753.1881