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Rugged PC Review Monthly News Archive [ Back to news index]

February 2016

Samwell announces availability of RUGGEDBOOK SR820s
Samwell reports that the first batch of their well-received RUGGEDBOOK SR820s has been sold out and a new production run is underway. The SR820s represents a major performance upgrade to Samwell's long-running, popular SR820 rugged tablet platform. Users of the original SR820 can expect a massive speed and responsiveness improvement, especially if they are migrating from older units with rotating storage. -- Posted Monday, February 29, 2016

Xamarin acquisition changes Microsoft's Android porting strategy
Microsoft has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Xamarin, a provider of native mobile development tools. This has an impact on Microsoft's project "Astoria," the Windows Bridge for Android, which is now discontinued. In a February 25 Windows blog, Microsoft says, "For those developers who spent time investigating the Android Bridge, we strongly encourage you to take a look at the iOS Bridge and Xamarin as great solutions." -- Posted Friday, February 26, 2016

Advantech sees revenue growth in 2015
Digitimes reports that Advantech has announced consolidated revenues of NT$38 billion (US$1.14 billion) for 2015, up 6.35% on year. In 2015, Advantech's revenues from the Greater China region accounted for 31% of the company's overall figure, following by North America's 29% and Europe's 15%. -- Posted Friday, February 26, 2016

Yet more that the naked eye can't see
As a follow-up on our article on the Cat S60 thermal imagining smartphone (see More than the naked eye can see), thermal imaging isn't everything that can now be done comprehensively and inexpensively in the field: FLIR also offers their GF343, a video camera that can visualize Carbon Dioxide (CO2) as part of their gas detection visualization series of cameras that can "see" a variety of gases (see FLIR gas detection systems). -- Posted Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sharp accepts Foxconn bailout, but it's not a done deal
Apparently, Foxconn is about to take control of Sharp in a deal that would have Foxconn control almost 2/3 of Sharp's stock. The ironic part here is that over the past two decades or so we've been witnessing the outsourcing of electronics production to so-called contract manufacturers for cost reasons. The question, obviously, becomes whether the outsourcing was inevitable, or short-sighted. As is, it appears not to be a done deal just yet (see Foxconn Casts Doubt on Sharp Deal After Winning Board Vote). -- Posted Thursday, February 25, 2016

MobileDemand introduces tough xCase for Surface tablets
Here's a whopper: MobileDemand introduced the xCase for Surface. Big deal? You bet. Somehow, unexpectedly, Microsoft managed to make their Surface tablets an impressive success. By some estimates, they sold six million Surfaces in 2015. Unfortunately, as sleek, elegant and powerful as Surface tablets are, they are not rugged. And that limits their use in the enterprise and in the field. MobileDemand plans on changing that with the new xCase, which is not just any case. The company has compiled a lot of experience in designing rugged enclosures with their Flex tablets, and their rugged Surface case builds on that. There's a tough, rubber-lined exo-skeleton, big rubber bumpers, protected ports, a hand strap, a briefcase handle, a shoulder strap, adjustable kickstand, a good type cover keyboard, and even an optional vehicle mount. With this, the formerly fragile Surface passes an enhanced MIL-STD-810G drop test. And opens entirely new rugged tablet horizons. [See the new xCase for Surface at MobileDemand] -- Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Getac adds 1080p-capable rugged camera to Veretos
Getac announced its new 1080p-capable Veretos Body Worn Camera for law enforcement officers walking the beat or patrolling in their cruisers. The body worn camera joins Getac’s Veretos Video System, which includes an in-car mobile video recording system engineered for use in law enforcement vehicles to capture all activities in and around the vehicle as they happen. When combined with the recently introduced Veretos Cloud secure evidence management and file storage technology, the Veretos system becomes a comprehensive law enforcement solution for mobile, wearable, and building surveillance video and audio capture. [See Getac Veretos system>/a>] -- Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2016

U.S. Army Reserve Selects DT Research's DT311H rugged tablet for training missions
DT Research, which specializes in the development of information appliances for vertical markets, announced the U.S. Army Reserve has selected the Intel Broadwell-powered 11.6-inch and IP65-sealed DT311H rugged tablet to support their training missions. The DT311H offers ratings for water and dust resistance (IP65), shock and vibration protection (MIL-STD-810G), EMI and EMC tolerance (MIL-STD-461F), and is also HERO (Hazard of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance) certified and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) compliant. [See DTResearch media release] -- Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2016

DigiTimes: AMD may hit new lows in market share
There was a time when AMD processors were a credible and fairly popular alternative to Intel's chips. And, more recently, a time where AMD and Nvidia went head-to-head in the discrete GPU market. Now DigiTimes says that AMD's market share may hit new lows in both categories. -- Posted Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cat S60 — IP68-sealed rugged Android smartphone with integrated thermal imaging camera
Caterpillar — yes, Caterpillar — introduced the Cat S60, which the company calls "the world's first thermal imaging smartphone." The Snapdragon 617 octa-core powered Android Marshmallow phone has a bright 540 nits 4.7-inch procap display that can handle wetness and gloves. Ruggedness specs are quite impressive with a 6-foot drop, and what appears to be IP68 sealing. The Cat S60 is said to be waterproof down to 17 feet for an hour, and its 13mp documentation camera can supposedly be used underwater. And it has a built-in FLIR Lepton module. So you get thermal imaging built right into your rugged smartphone. [see Catphones media release and our lengthy assessment at Cat S60 — More than the naked eye can see] -- Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2016

CalAmp introduces rugged TTU-2840XTreme trailer tracking unit designed for extreme environments
CalAmp announced the TTU-2840XTreme, a high value asset tracking device designed to operate in extreme environmental conditions. The IP68-sealed rugged device is ideal for tracking trailers, containers and other assets that are exposed to the elements. The device includes GPS,d supports 4G LTE, GPRS, CDMA 1xRTT and HSPA, and is compatible with both 12- and 24-volt vehicle power systems. The TTU-2840XTreme uses an on-board alert system that continuously monitors the vehicle environment and responds instantly to pre-defined threshold conditions such as time, date, motion, location, geo-zone and directly instrumented inputs. -- Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Panasonic announces two more fully rugged handheld tablets
Panasonic announced that it is complementing its growing handheld tablet lineup with fully rugged 4.7-inch IP67-sealed handhelds available either with Windows 10 IoT Mobile Enterprise or Android 5.1.1. Powered by a 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, the Toughpad FZ-F1 (Windows) and FZ-N1 (Android) offer glove-touch and rain-sensing procap displays with optional active pen, up to 500 nits brightness, integrated ergonomically angled scanner, 5mp/8mp cameras, and a 6-foot drop spec. Pricing starts at US$1,500. [See description, analysis and specs of the Panasonic Toughbook FZ-F1 and Toughbook FZ-N1] -- Posted Monday, February 22, 2016

Case study: Incheon Airport chooses ARBOR Technology to manage its flight information system
Soul's Incheon International Airport is one of the largest and busiest airports in the world. Consistently rated among the best airports worldwide, Incheon handles an average of 1,600 daily flights, placing enormous importance on performance, simplicity and durability of flight information and baggage control systems. In a new case study, ARBOR Technology proudly points out that their ELIT-1650 IPC filled on those requirements as well as various airport construction specifications, and 800 units have been installed at Incheon International Airport, providing efficient and durable service for hundreds of thousands of passengers passing through this airport. [See Case study -- Incheaon Airport, Korea] -- Posted Friday, February 19, 2016

Xplore on true and genuine protection against environmental threats
Xplore Technologies' increasingly detailed and sophisticated blog takes a look at the sad fact that not all rugged tablets are in fact rugged enough. [See Military-Grade Rugged Tablets Must Prove Genuine Protection against Environmental Threats] -- Posted Thursday, February 18, 2016

CipherLab USA announces partnership with Petrosoft
CipherLab USA, an AIDC technology company, announced a strategic partnership with Petrosoft, an end-to-end retail automation company. This partnership expands CipherLab’s distribution channel and market presence by leveraging Petrosoft’s end-to-end retail solutions as well as its sales, support, training and marketing expertise. Sergey Gorlov, President and CEO of Petrosoft. “The CipherLab 9700 is the only inventory scanner included in Petrosoft’s product catalog. Our decision to add CipherLab to the company’s POS, made-to-order, back-office and fuel management technology is based on the company’s product reputation, value and ease of integration with C-Store Office, Petrosoft’s back-office solution." -- Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Reality check: where does leading edge mobile hardware stand?
When assessing how a particular area or niche of the overall computing market compares to the absolute leading edge, one only has to look at the latest in consumer smartphones. Case in point:'s assessment of the Huawei Mate 8, a 6-inch smartphone with 8mp front and 16mp rear camera with optical image stabilization, eight sensors, and 11.5 hour battery life. was underwhelmed by its mere "mainstream" 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixel) resolution but quite intrigued by the device's octal-core 64-bit, 16nm, ARM Cortex A72-based Kirin 950 processor made by Huawei's own semiconductor design house called HiSilicon that beat all competition in most major benchmark scores. [See HotHardWare's review of the Huawei Mate 8] -- Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Advantech unveils embedded computing platforms with integrated IoT remote management software
Advantech unveiled its full range of embedded computing platforms based on the the Intel "Braswell" Pentium/Celeron N3000 family of processors. These include the SOM-3568, SOM-6868 and SOM-7568 COM modules, the PCM-9310 and MIO-2030 SBCs, the AIMB-216 industrial motherboard; as well as the ARK-3405 fanless embedded Box PC. All are equipped with multiple OS, value-added software, and built-in intelligent management technology, such as WISE-PaaS/RMM, an IoT device remote monitoring and management platform for ensuring continuous system uptime and reduced maintenance costs. [See Advantech media release] -- Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2016

u-blox brings centimeter-level precision GNSS technology to the mass market
u-blox has launched the NEO-M8P GNSS receiver modules delivering performance down to centimeter-level accuracy (which we assume means below 1 meter/3.3 feet). Measuring a tiny 12.2 x 16 x 2.4 mm, NEO-M8P is the smallest high precision GNSS RTK (real time kinematic) module available for GPS and GLONASS satellite-based navigation systems. The rover with the u-blox NEO‑M8P‑0 receives corrections from the u-blox base receiver NEO-M8P-2 via a communication link that uses the RTCM (Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services) protocol, enabling centimeter-level positioning accuracy, making the modules ideal for for applications such as unmanned vehicles and robotic guidance systems. [See u-blox media release] -- Posted Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Keeping an eye on the level of technology offered in consumer tech: Dell Venue 8
With the massive global reach of smartphones and tablets, what consumers expect from their personal gear has a direct impact of what they expect from rugged gear. With that in mind, we bought a Dell Venue 8 Series 7000 tablet so we could examine it in detail. What can Dell's 8.4-inch consumer/business Android tablet do? What's the technology inside the US$399 list device? How does it feel and handle? And what can rugged mobile computing manufacturers learn from it? [Read Keeping an eye on the level of technology offered in consumer tech: Dell Venue 8] -- Posted Monday, February 15, 2016

Xplore reports 64% increase in revenue for their fiscal Q3 2016
For Q4 of 2015 (which is actually Q3 of its fiscal year 2016), Xplore Technologies reported revenue of US$27.02 million, compared to US$16.44 million for the same quarter a year ago. For the nine months ended December 31, 2015, revenue was US$79.92 million, compared to the nine months ended December 31, 2014 revenue of $27.24 million, an increase of 148%. Xplore reported net income for the quarter of $786,000 compared to net income of $2,401,000 for the three months ended December 31, 2014, and a net income for the nine months ended December 31, 2015 of $2,039,000 compared to net income of $683,000 for the nine months ended December 31, 2014. The increase in revenue was due to revenue associated with the product line Xplore acquired in the April 17, 2015 acquisition of certain assets of Motion Computing. [See Xplore financials] -- Posted Friday, February 12, 2016

Added: Bluebird EF500
Korean rugged handheld manufacturer Bluebird announced the Bluebird EF500 for those who want a modern smartphone-style handheld, but one that's a lot tougher and has industrial-grade scanning capability. The 5-inch EF500 is available in a standard and a rugged version, both IP67-sealed, but the EF500R able to withstand 8-foot drops. The platform comes with either Windows Embedded Handheld 8.1 or Android 5.1 Lollipop. [See description, analysis and specs of the Bluebird EF500] -- Posted Thursday, February 11, 2016

Full review: MobileDemand's remarkably affordable xTablet T8500 with IP67 sealing and integrated scanner option
Tablets are being used in more and more enterprise, government and industrial applications, but the high price of fully rugged devices often stands in the way. MobileDemand addresses this challenge with the affordably priced (starting at US$845) xTablet T8500, a rugged Intel Bay Trail-powered Windows 10 tablet with a 1280 x 800 pixel 8-inch capacitive touch display, 8-hour battery life, and full IP67 sealing. [See full review of the MobileDemand xTablet T8500] -- Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2016

GammaTech Durabook R8300 adds RFID reader to increase application security and efficiency
GammaTech announced that its Durabook R8300 is the first fully rugged notebook to come with RFID dual frequency reader integration. The RFID reader adds security, reliability and the convenience of proximity and contactless identification. Exceeding or meeting the most difficult environmental specifications, the R8300 can safely be used in a multitude of applications such as those found in the military, public safety, and utility sectors. [See Gammatech media release and our review of the Durabook R8300] -- Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Added: Bluebird BM180
With the BM180 enterprise handheld, Bluebird provides an industrial-grade version of a contemporary smartphone, one with significant extra functionality (like an integrated barcode and MSR readers). The BM180 has a 5-inch 1280 x 720 capacitive multi-touch display, runs either Windows Embedded Handheld or Android, can handle 4-foot drops, is IP67-sealed, and starts at roughly US$1,75. [See description, analysis and specs of the Bluebird BM180] -- Posted Monday, February 8, 2016

8 features every mobile e-ticketing device needs
Having the right mobile device with the right features can mean the difference between having an efficient citation writing system or a system full of user frustration and product failures. To address some of these issues, Two Technologies created a white paper discussing eight main features of a mobile e-ticketing device that help reduce overall cost of ownership, eradicate data loss, and maintain streamlined business processes. [See 8 Features Every Mobile E-Ticketing Device Needs (yes, you need to supply contact info)] -- Posted Sunday, February 7, 2016

ARBOR launches rugged enterprise-grade 5-inch Gladius GT-500 Android handheld
ARBOR announced the GT-500 as an addition to its Gladius Series of rugged handheld devices. The IP67-rated Gladius GT-500 runs Android version 5.1 “Lollipop” on a MediaTek MT6735 64-bit quad-core processor, has a bright, high-res 5-inch display, an integrated 1D/2D barcode reader, dual cameras (2mp and 13mp), and supports voice and multiple data connectivity including NFC, Bluetooth, 3G, and 4G LTE. [See ARBOR Gladius GT-500] -- Posted Friday, February 5, 2016

What happened in rugged computing 5 years ago: February 2011
In February 2011, we compiled our first media tablet table. Fujitsu released their 10.1-inch Stylistic Q550 Windows tablet, DLI their DLI 9200 Vehicle-Mount Computer, Motion the low-end C5v MCA with a Core i3 chip, MobileDemand the xTablet C1200 convertible, Trimble the GeoExplorer 6000 handhelds, and HP the webOS-powered TouchPad. LXE, which introduced the LXE Tekton handheld, became part of EMS Global Resource Management. We reviewed the Advantech ARK-3390, ARK-3403, ARK-3440, ARK-6320 and AIMB-780, and Getac's updated V100 convertible. Intermec announced 2010 revenues of US$679 million, and Microsoft announced Windows Embedded for thin clients, while XP Embedded mainstream support was terminated. [See full January 2011 archive] -- Posted Thursday, February 4, 2016

ADLINK and Saguna present mobile edge computing solution for extreme environments
ADLINK and Saguna Networks announced a joint Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) solution comprised of Saguna Open-RAN, a fully virtualized MEC platform, operating on ADLINK’s rugged SETO-1000 extreme outdoor server platform designed for deployments in harsh outdoor environments. [Read ADLINK media release] -- Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Handheld ALGIZ 10X tablet now available with Windows 10
Handheld Group announced that it is now offering a Windows 10 version of its popular Algiz 10X ultra-rugged tablet computer (Windows 7 and 8 remain available). "Windows 10 combines the best features of Windows 7 and Windows 8, providing choice and flexibility for our customers," says Johan Hed, director of product management. "With the Enterprise LTSB version of Windows 10 that we've selected, users will continue to receive the latest security and critical updates required for supporting their mission-critical systems, while choosing how often they prefer to adopt new features." [Read Handheld Group media release] -- Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Getac introduces Veretos Cloud evidence management solution for law enforcement and government agencies
Getac says it is introducing Veretos Cloud, a comprehensive, evidence management solution designed to handle digital assets obtained from in-car video solutions, interview rooms, and other digital devices. Built on the Microsoft Azure Government cloud platform, Veretos Cloud meets the security demands of government agencies and public safety organizations while allowing any digital video, image or document to be securely uploaded, browsed, viewed, classified, and shared using only a web browser. [See Veteros Mobile Video solutions] -- Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Xplore secures $1 million contract from global logistics leader
X​plore Technologies announced it has received $1 million in orders from a global leader in logistics. The Motion F5m by Xplore Windows-based tablets will be deployed to crews to verify, certify, and analyze delivery routes. Utilizing the 4G XLTE mobile broadband connectivity and u-blox GPS of the F5m, the logistics customer is able to increase efficiency and productivity of route driver. [See Xplore media release] -- Posted Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review: AMREL Flexpedient AT80 customizable Android tablet
With the Flexpedient AT80, AMREL offers a tough-as-nails 8-inch Android tablet that's about as customizable and configurable as it gets, down to not only ports and modules, but also color and even branding. This makes the AT80 an opportunity for any number of companies or agencies (or integrators or reseller) that need a tough tablet equipped to meet their very unique needs and standards. [See description, analysis and specs of the AMREL AT80] -- Posted Tuesday, February 2, 2016

noax adds nSMART for easy configuration of IPCs
Industrial PC maker noax has long been integrating monitoring and controlling options into their hardware, resulting in maximum dependability and reliability. They've now enhanced the control software with a redesigned graphic user interface that can even be operated with gloves on. [See noax media release] -- Posted Tuesday, February 2, 2016

IDC: Worldwide tablet shipments decline, detachables reach new high
IDC reports that the worldwide tablet market declined yet again in 4Q15 with 65.9 million units shipped, down -13.7% year over year. Total shipments for 2015 were 206.8 million, down -10.1% from 230.1 million in the prior year. Shipments for detachable tablets detachable tablets more than doubled since the fourth quarter of last year and reached an all-time high of 8.1 million devices. Pure slate tablets experienced their greatest annual decline to date of -21.1%. IDC says Apple sold over two million iPad Pros while Microsoft sold around 1.6 million Surface devices, a majority of which were Surface Pro and not the more affordable Surface 3, meaning that price is not the most important feature considered when acquiring a detachable – performance is." [See IDC report] -- Posted Monday, February 1, 2016

Avalue steps into medical display market
Avalue Technology announced a new member joining its medical family as the company has acquired 33.33% of Goomedi Laboratories, expecting Goomedi Lab. to fuel the growth of Avalue’s market share in the healthcare industry. IHS estimates the global medical displays market was at US$900 million in 2014, with projected revenue CAGR of 4.5% from 2014 to 2019. Goomedi Lab.’s product line, including medical monitors from 19” up to 55” surgical display supporting UHD 4K x 2K resolution. -- Posted Monday, February 1, 2016

Xplore blog on why a tablet alone doesn't a solution make
Excellent new article by Bob Ashenbrenner on Xplore Technologies' blog. It discusses how there's still significant room for improvement in mobile technology utilization. That's because while a growing number of enterprises are leveraging mobile devices in some capacity, many are still striving for greater use and acceptance of mobile devices on a daily basis. Ashenbrenner points out that rugged tablets are a “necessary, but not sufficient” component of smart and successful mobility strategies. "Simply having a rugged tablet at their disposal doesn’t mean they have an effective rugged mobile computing solution. At least not at first," Ashenbrenner says. You need not only the right device, but also the right partner and the right solution for your exact job. [See Converting Mobile Workers into Devout Mobile PC Users] -- Posted Monday, February 1, 2016

MobileDemand launches impressive new website
MobileDemand has launched its new website. It's an innovative, mobile-friendly design that features a clean, modern layout with secure, integrated shopping. The site is designed to educate visitors about choosing the right tablet for the job no matter what their industry or application may be, and then allow them to purchase online, through a certified partner or directly from a MobileDemand sales expert. We're impressed. At a time where we're seeing too many sites simply be converted to a limited and often confusing WordPress template, MobileDemand nailed it. The image shows how the site dynamically adjusts to phones (left) or full-size monitors (right). [See the new MobileDemand website] -- Posted Monday, February 1, 2016

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