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RuggON PA-501

Rugged Android-based 10.1-inch tablets for data capture and point-of-sale applications
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

Taiwan-based RuggON Corporation was established in 2014 as a provider of ruggedized computing products. RuggON's stated mission is to raise the productivity of rugged computing solutions through creative, pioneering technology. Their lineup consists of RuggTAB tablets and RuggVMC vehicle mounts. On this page we're describing the Android-based PA-501 10.1-inch rugged tablet that is part of the company's Rextorm line.

Just to elininate any confusion right upfront: RuggON's Rextorm tablets come in three versions that look pretty much identical, offer largely the same features, but are based on very different OS and processor platforms. The PX-501/501B and PA-521 are Windows tablets and based on Intel Core processors (the former) or Intel Bay Trail processors (the latter). The PA-501, on the other hand, is an Android tablet and, due to its much lower resource requirements, based on a Texas Instruments ARM Cortex A9 chip.

Why both Windows and Android versions? Because while Android and Apple's iOS totally dominate the consumer smartphone and phablet market, it's a very different story on the enterprise and industrial tablet market side. There, Android also seemed to take over but Windows remains strong, and so most rugged tablet manufacturers are hedging their bets by providing both Android and Windows devices.

In general, Windows-based tablets are higher-end in these markets, and Android tablets on the lower end side. RuggON, however, offers their PA-501 Android model with the same 10.1-inch full WUXGA 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution display as the Windows tablets. That makes for a wide 16:9 aspect ratio and provides more pixels than 1080p high definition TV. The display's 224 dpi (dots per inch) are in the iMac Retina and MacBook Pro retina range, making it very crisp and sharp. There's, of course, projected capacitive multi-touch with five discrete simultaneous inputs, allowing for all the tapping, panning, pinching and zooming all those hundreds of millions of smartphone and media tablet users the world over now except.

The screen size and aspect ratio make the PA-501 suitable for complex vertical and industrial market software. The supplied passive capacitive stylus has a pointy 2mm hard tip, making it much better tool for precision work than the broad, squishy capacitive styli that are still common in most capacitive tablets. No active digitizer option, though, as is available for the Windows Rextorm models (where it's arguably more needed). Worth mentioning are RuggON's use of the protective Gorilla Glass, optical bonding to reduce internal reflectivity, and glove-touch capability. Finally, the display's very strong backlight presents 1,000 nits luminance, greatly enhancing sunlight viewability.

The RuggON PA-501 is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor that's also seen duty in various Amazon Kindle and Samsung Galaxy tablets.

In terms of connectivity, the PA-501 provides a USB 2.0 port, an additional micro USB port, micro HDMI, an audio in/out jack, RJ45 Ethernet, and a legacy RS232 DB9 serial port is also there. For documentation and video communication, the PA-501 has two cameras, a rear-facing 5-megapixel autofocus unit with LED illuminator for documentation, and a front-facing 1.2-megapixel webcam.

Integrating optional components is not as easy with thin and light designs such as the Rextorm tablets, and RuggON chose a hybrid approach here. Customers can specify an optional integrated industrial-grade 2D barcode reader, but magnetic stripe reading and smart card reading are handled via bolt-on modules instead.

For wireless communication, the PA501 include Bluetooth 4.0 Class II, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, NFC, and GNSS. Optionally available is 3.5G or 4G LTE mobile broadband capability. The unit's gyroscope, G-sensor, E-compass and ambient light sensor can be used for innovative functionality in system software and apps.

Like all Rextorm tablets, the PA501 comes either with somewhat playful bright-red or serious black perimeter protection. Regardless of color, this is a fully rugged design that is much tougher than any consumer media tablet. There is an impressive 5-feet drop spec, the tablet offers equally impressive IP65 sealing (total protection against dust, protection against low pressure water jets from all directions), a wide operating temperature range of -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to +60 Celsius), and a variety of other MIL-STD-810G testing.

The device comes standard with a 48.6 watt-hour watt-hour battery that RuggON rates as good for about 8 hours between charges. If that's not enough, there's an optional extended battery that doubles capacity and boosts battery life to a full 22 hours. Which means that of all available Rextorm tablets, the Android version provides the longest battery life by a good margin.

Overall, while the Android version of RuggON's Rextorm tablet platform looks the exact same as the Windows models and also offers most of the same features and ratings, do note that Windows and Android are inherently different operating environments with different resource requirements and capabilities. That said, those who seek the ubiquitous familiarity of the Android interface in a larger, full-featured, and very rugged tablet package will definitely like RuggON's PA-501.

Specifications RuggON PA-501
Added Added 09/2015
Type Rugged Android tablet
Processor Dual-core TI OMAP4470 ARM Cortex A9
CPU Speed 1.5GHz
CPU Thermal Design Power unknown
Standard/Max RAM 2GB LPDDR2
OS Android 4.2
Graphics PowerVR SGX544
Disk/drive 32GB eMMC SSD (optional 64GB)
Expansion bay No
Expansion slots Unknown
Card slots 1 x micro SIM card, 1 x Micro SD card
Display type Sunlight-readable TFT with LED backlight, 1,000 nits luminance, water/palm rejection, Gorilla Glass 3
Display size/res 10.1-inch/WUXGA (1920 x 1200 pixel)
Digitizer/pens 5-point projected capacitive multi-touch, glove touch, 2mm capacitive pen
Keyboard/scale Optional external
Housing Unknown
Operating Temp -4° to 140°F (-20° to 60°C)
Sealing IP65
Drop MIL-STD-810G Method 516.6 Procedure IV, 26 5-feet drops onto plywood
Shock Est: MIL-STD-810G, Method 516.6, Procedure I, 40g, 11ms operation
Humidity MIL-STD-810G Method 507.5 Humidity Procedure II Aggravated Cycles (Fig 507.5-7), 5 to 95% non-condensing
Thermal shock Est: MIL-STD-810G, Method 503.5, Procedure I
Vibration MIL-STD-810G Method 514.6 Category 4, Fig 514.6C-1, Fig 514.6C-2, Fig 514.6C-3
Altitude Est: MIL-STD-810G, Method 500.5, Procedures I & II
Certifications CE, FCC, CB
Size (WxHxD) 11.0" x 7.7" x 0.9" (280mm x 195mm x 23mm)
Weight 2.90 lb. (1.32kg)
Power 4,500mAH, 10.8V, 48.6whr Li-Polymer ("6.5 hours"), optional extended 9,000mAH, 10.8V, 97.2whr Li-Polymer ("13 hours")
Interface 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0 (or optional RS232), 1 x gigabit RJ45, 1 x Micro HDMI, audio in/out, 2 x RF passhthrough, dock
Camera Rear: 5-megapixel AF with LED flash, front: 2-megapixel webcam
Sensors Gyroscope, G-sensor, E-compass, ambient light
Wireless 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth v4.0, optional: NFC RFID, GNSS (GPS/GLONASS/BeiDou),3.5G or 4G LTE, mag stripe reader, 2D barcode scanner, CAC smart card reader
List price inquire
Web page RuggON PA-501 product page
Brochure RuggON PA-501 brochure (PDF)
Manual RuggON PA-501 manual (PDF)
RuggON PA-501 Docks/Accessories

RuggON Corporation
3F., No.10, Ln. 181, Sec. 2, Jiuzong Rd., Neihu Dist.
Taipei City 114, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Fax: 886-2-8797-1881
Web: www.ruggon.com