Intel Atom-powered rugged tablet computer
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
AAEON Technology, established in 1992 in Taiwan, manufactures and markets a wide range of OEM/ODM industrial and embedded computer systems, mobile PCs, rugged Tablet PCs, Netbooks, Box PCs, PC104s, ETX, Medical PCs and Computer on Modules, Panel PCs, Industrial LCD Displays, and related accessories. AAEON has branches worldwide including the United States, Europe, China and Singapore.
The RTC-1000A is a rugged Tablet PC designed in a variety of industrial, military, government and other vehicular, shopfloor or field applications. Measuring a very compact 10.6 x 7.25 x 1.9 inches and weighing about five pounds, the RTC-1000A is powered by an ultra-efficient Intel Atom N270 processor running at 1.6GHz. RAM is up to 2GB. Running Windows Embedded Standard 2009, the RTC-1000A can run either off a 2.5-inch hard disk or an optional solid state disk. The smart 9-cell 7,800mAH Li-Ion battery pack provides five to seven hours of life between charges.
The RC-1000A has wide-aspect ratio 10.2-inch display with a 220 nits backlight (a sunlight-readable version with 450 nits is available), a touch screen (and, optionally, an active digitizer) and WSVGA (1024 x 600 pixel) resolution. There are three USB ports (two standard ones and one mini-USB), RS232 serial, both PC Card and CF Card readers, gigabit Ethernet, a modem jack, and a pass-through connector to a cradle. Wireless connectivity is via 802.11b/g WiFi and Class I Bluetooth. A 3.5G modem module is optional.
In terms of ruggedness, the RTC-1000 has an operating temperature range of between 32 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit with a hard disk. If lower temperature operation is required, there's an optional hard disk heater that's good for -4F. SSD versions range from 14 to 140F. Sealing is at the IP65 level, hich means the unit is totally protected against dust and can also low pressure water jets from all directions. The unit can survive 3-foot drops and has also been tested for vibration, ESD, EMC/Safety, humidity, etc.
A row of ten numeric buttons along the bottom of the LCD allow rapid data entry. There's also a function key, a security button, a quick launch button, backspace, enter, and a four-way navigation diamond.
Note that Aaeon also sells this platform in an Intel Core Duo U2500 based version, the RTC-1000D, which is otherwise virtually identical. In our experience, U2500 systems (10 watt thermal design power) provide about 50% more overall performance than Atom N270 based systems (2.5 watt thermal design power). With the sleek Windows Embedded OS, performance is generally not an issue, so the choice may come down to price, heat dissipation and battery life.