There are general purpose tablets. There are tablets specifically designed for data collection, or mobile point-of-sale transactions, or identification and public safety applications. There are tablets for use in vehicles. Winmate's new M800BW tablet can do all of that.
How does it do that you may ask. Well, the M800BW is small and handy, with a footprint almost exactly that of a regular iPad. And though it is quite rugged and very well sealed, it's only an inch thick and weighs about 2.4 pounds. That's still quite portable.
It runs Windows 10 IoT Enterprise or Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro on a reasonably quick quad-core 1.60GHz Intel "Braswell" Pentium N3710 that can reach burst speeds of up to 2.56GHz. It can also accommodate up to 8GB of RAM and up to half a terabyte of speedy solid state disk.
Its 8-inch capacitive multi-touch display is smaller than that of a regular iPad, but still a lot larger than even the biggest smartphone. And with 189 pixels per inch it's quite sharp. Sharper, actually, than a Dell 24-inch 4k UltraSharp monitor. For those needing it, an active pen is available. A battery charge lasts up to 7.5 hours. And there are the usual two cameras, one in the front and one in the back. The M800BW also has an optional fingerprint scanner for access security. And an optional Smart Card reader. All of this means the M800W can be used just like a regular tablet in any enterprise or business setting.
What about its outdoor skills? There's a 4-foot drop spec, which means if it gets dropped while being operating walking or standing around, no problem. IP65 sealing means the M800BW is totally dust-proof and can also handle not just rain, but low pressure water jets from all directions. It doesn't mind hot and cold, with an operating temperature range of 14 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
But with a capacitive touch screen, can it be used with gloves on or in the rain? Winmate says yes it can. There are special glove, rain and stylus mode settings.
How about data collection? For that there's an optional 1D/2D barecode reader, a real industrial-grade scanner and not just the internal camera with an app. RFID/NFC is available as well. And for positioning, its u-Blox GPS can track the satellites of three of the available GNSS systems concurrently.
But mobile tablets, especially small and compact ones, usually don't have much onboard connectivity. Well, the Winmate M800BW is an exception. It comes with two full-size USB 3.0 ports, and there's also a mini-HDMI port.
Where does use in vehicles come in? This is where it gets interesting. That's because the M800BW can also be ordered in a version that includes a special M12 industrial connector that links the tablet to the optional CPM 800 expansion box. The box is shown in the image below.
The expansion box measures about 8 x 3 inches, is an inch thick and weighs about a pound. It provides a terminal block for 9 ~ 36 Volt vehicle power, a DB9 serial port that's jumper-switchable to RS232/422/485, and — most importantly — there's also a CAN bus port. CAN bus (Controller Area Network) is a vehicle bus standard and allows computers to interact with all sorts of vehicle systems.
What do we make of this somewhat unique separation of functionality between tablet and expansion box? It's really not that unusual. Docks and port replicators that provide extra functionality have existed as long as tablet computers have existed, and that's over a quarter of a century. More recently, the TV industry has also picked up on it: some leading flat screen TVs now come with external communication boxes since all those required ports no longer fit into the ever slimmer profiles of modern TVs. And an external expansion box also future-proofs designs as additional ports or new standards can easily be made available without replacing the entire system. Makes perfect sense.
What it all means is that with the M800BW, Winmate offers a small and handy modern Windows-based tablet computer that's rugged enough to be used in vehicles and in the field, light and handy enough to be mobile and easily carryable, flexible enough to function as a standalone device or as part of a well-connected vehicle system, and competent enough to be used for all sorts of data collection, control and management systems in public safety and numerous other fields.