Arbor Technology Gladius G1056|
Compact, ergonomic rugged tablet with extensive onboard connectivity capabilities
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
ARBOR Technology, a Taiwan-based ISO-9001 certified embedded and networking manufacturer founded in 1993, initially announced the Gladius G1056 in 2012 as a semi-rugged tablet for a variety of applications in logistics, warehousing management, POS, and also, due to its strong graphic performance, as a multi-media entertainment and display device.
Those familiar with ARBOR's tablet lineup will see more than a passing resemblance between the Gladius G1056 and ARBOR's M1040/M1042 Mobile Clinical Assistants. And in both a lineage back to the 2007 Intel Mobile Clinical Assistant concept of a mobile tablet designed and optimized for clinical environments where light weight, spill-resistance, the ability to absorb the occasional drop, and, most importantly, quick and easy cleaning and disinfection matter. Intel's concept design included the MCA signature integrated handle, clinical environment color scheme (white and gray), a minimum of onboard ports so as to eliminate nooks and crannies where germs could accumulate, and all sorts of data capture technologies such as scanners, RFID, camera, etc. The Intel MCA concept was picked up by several manufacturers and was successful enough to continue to this day, perhaps most prominently by Motion Computing which released an early MCA and then followed up with a largely identical version targeted at field service deployments.
Which raises the question whether the Gladius G1056 is mostly a M1042 with a different color scheme. It is and it isn't. The two ARBOR tablets look the same from the front and share the same basic platform and many design features, but other than that, they are quite different, with each configured and optimized for their respective areas of deployment.
For example, while the M1040/42 closely follow Intel's MCA concept with Intel processors and as few openings and onboard ports as possible, the Gladius G1056 is actually based on an AMD G-Series APU (Accelerated Processing Unit), the dual-core G-T56N. AMD's goal with the G-Series was to offer an embedded chip that combined a low-power CPU and an advanced, powerful GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) into a single chip (see AMD G-Series product brief). This addressed the needs of those who liked the low power of Intel's Atom chips, but needed more advanced graphics capabilities.
But the processor is only one part of the G1056's optimization for a variety of field work. While the M1042, like most true MCAs, has just a single USB port and no other onboard wired connectivity, the G1056 offers much more. There are four USB 2.0 ports, a RJ45 gigabit LAN jack, an (optional) RS232 DB9 port for potential legacy connectivity, and, on the graphics side, a standard VGA port as well as a mini DisplayPort. This makes the G1056 one of the best-equipped tablets in terms of wired connectivity, and this may well make a big difference out there in the field. Oh, and the G1056 also has dual 5mp cameras, a standard rear-facing documentation camera, and an optional front-facing 5mp unit for conferencing.
While the G1056's roughly 10 x 10 inch square footprint is the same as that of the M1042 MCA, the additional ports, more powerful dual batteries, additional electronics, as well as protective cladding and a palm grip on the back mean more thickness (2.7 inches total) and weight (3.9 pounds).
Like the M1042, the G1056 comes with a 10.4-inch AFFS+ display with perfect viewing angles, perhaps the best screen available today. However, while the M1042 MCA uses capacitive multi-touch (resistive is available also), the G1056 comes with a resistive touch screen augmented by an active pen (probably Wacom). This remains a good solution for tablets used in the field where it may rain or where gloves may be required.
Data collection is another area where the M1042 and the G1056 differ: the G1056 doesn't have a barcode scanner or Smart Card reader, but RFID is available. As is a 3.75G HSUPA WWAN option.
What's perhaps a bit surprising is that ARBOR introduced the G1056 as a semi-rugged and not fully rugged device (though the spec sheet does say rugged). While the operating temperature range is significantly wider than that of the clinical environment M1042, sealing remains at the same modest IP54 level (we'd like to see at least IP65), and there's the same 3-foot transit drop, which seems marginal given the G1056's additional bumper protection.
We've always felt that the Intel MCA tablet concept with its robust integrated handle and extra room for integrated functionality made as much sense in the field as it does in clinical environments. With the Gladius G1056, ARBOR created a version that's very much optimized for field use where this tablet's rich I/O, hot-swappable dual batteries, protective bumpers, and extra graphics capabilities come in handy. And we love the black/orange color scheme!
ARBOR Technology Corp., founded in 1993, is a Taiwan-based designer and manufacturer of embedded and rugged computing products and services. The company has a worldwide sales and support network with offices located in China, the US, France, Italy, Germany, the UK, Australia, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.