Small, tough and handy data collection terminal
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
Unitech America is a subsidiary of Taiwanese automatic data collection specialist Unitech, founded in 1979. They are also the third-largest worldwide manufacturer of rugged PDAs.
The HT680, introduced in early 2010, is part of Unitech's "flashlight-style" rugged mobile computers, i.e. a design with a full numeric keypad in a housing longer than that of a conventional Pocket PC/PDA. Those familiar with Unitech's lineup know that the other two models in the HTxxx family are legacy terminals that are still based on proprietary DOS systems, so compared to them, the new Windows CE-based HT680 is lightyears ahead in terms of technology.
Despite its ruggedness, the HT680 is actually much smaller than it looks. Measuring just 6.7 x 2.1 inches and being just over an inch thick, the device feels more like a large smartphone and actually fits into many pockets. It also isn't very heavy at about 11 ounces. So this is one rugged industrial terminal that never gets in the way.
Do not, however, expect bleeding edge technology. Like hundreds of thousands of industrial handhelds, the HT680 is based on Marvell's PXA270 processor, a competent workhorse chip Marvell inherited from Intel when they bought part of Intel's mobile processor business. And, indicative of Microsoft's current lack of a clear direction with its mini operating systems, the new HT680 doesn't run the latest version of Windows Mobile or the Windows CE platform WinMo is based on, but the also tried-and-true Windows CE 5.0.
Since most HT680s will be used as data capture terminals with data communication requirements, Unitech offers several different versions. All come with integrated Bluetooth 2.0 Class 2, but customers can select from either a 1D laser scannner (UPC-A/E, EAN-8/13, Codabar, Code 11, Code 32, Code 39, Code 39 full ASCI, Code 93, Code 128, Interleaved & Std. 2 of 5, EAN 128, Delta, MSI/Plessey, Toshiba) or a 2D imager that supports the 1D symbology plus GS1 DataBar/RSS, British Post, Canadian Post, Australian Post, Japanese Post, Planet Code, Aztec, Codablock F, Code 49, Datamatrix, EAN-UCC, Composite, Maxicode, MicroPDF417, QR Code, and Tcif Linked C3. Each model is available with or without 802.11b/g WiFi. GSM/GPRS/EDGE WWAN is available in custom configurations.
The Unitech HT680 carries an IP54 ingress protection rating (i.e., it is mostly protected against dust and water, but not totally dust and waterproof), can handle impressive 6-foot drops, and operate in a 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit temperature range, making it suitable for operation in just about any environment.
The PA600 is a small, tough and handy data collection computer that can be used for a very wide variety of data collection tasks without taking up a lot of room.