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

November 2008

COM Express: Type 2 is Defacto Standard
According to a study recently published by VDC Research Group, Type 2 COM Express has become the flavor of choice for COM Express modules. This research on the Computer-On-Modules (COMs) market that are often used for embedded solutions, part of VDC’s annual Merchant Computer Boards Research service, found that 82% of all COM Express modules were Type 2 in 2007. The COM Express specification allows for five types, differing in connectors and pin-outs. -- Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BSQUARE acquires TestQuest
Remember BSQUARE from the early days of Windows CE? They are still around, providing software and engineering services to developers of Windows-based embedded devices worldwide. BSQUARE also just acquired TestQuest, a leader in test automation and management solutions for mobile and embedded devices and applications for accelerated time-to-market. -- Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A look at a state-of-the-art Mini-ITX board: Advantech AIMB-256
At we generally concentrate news and reviews on entire rugged and mobile systems. Last week we got a chance to take a close look at a type of compact, efficient computer motherboard that drives a lot of today's embedded and industrial applications. The Core 2 Duo-powered Advantech AIMB-256 shows how far Mini-ITX boards have come since they were conceived in 2001. [Read review of the Advantech AIMB-256 Mini-ITX board] -- Posted Monday, November 24, 2008

Review: DT Research WebDT 520 fixed-mount panel computer
There is an increasing demand for rugged fixed-mount/panel computers for use in forklifts, emergency vehicles, warehousing, marine and many other applications. We reviewed the very compact WebDT520 by DT Research. It is a cost-efficient rugged panel computer with a bright 12.1-inch touch screen, touch-optimized operation, good performance and excellent connectivity and expansion options. [See full review of the DT Research WebDT 520 rugged panel computer] -- Posted Monday, November 24, 2008

Fujitsu unveils its own Mobile Clinical Assistant
Shortly after Panasonic announced its mobile clinical assistant, Fujitsu-Siemens unveiled its own MCA, the Esprimo MA. Like Motion Computing's pioneering C5, the Esprimo MA is based on Intel's MCA reference platform that prescribes a 10.4-inch display in a light and handy tablet with an integrated handle. The Atom Z530-powered Esprimo has an integrated camera, dual SmardCard reader, touch and digitizer, as well as optional 1D/2D barcode reader and RFID. The hot-swappable battery lasts four hours and the device weighs less than three pounds. [See description and specs of the Fujitsu-Siemens Esprimo MA] -- Posted Friday, November 21, 2008

Extech introduces lightweight, rugged thermal printer
Extech Data Systems introduced the lightweight, rugged Apex 3 Direct Thermal Printer. The new 3” receipt printer reflects market trends by making Short Range Bluetooth standard and offering optional Long Range Bluetooth, 802.11b/g, IrDA and a 3-track magnetic card reader. The Apex 3 includes Extech’s Form Fiesta utility, a Windows-based page app that allows users to create forms such as boarding passes and parking tickets -- Posted Thursday, November 20, 2008

Socket cordless scanners now support BlackBerry
Socket Mobile announced the compatibility of Socket data capture solutions with the BlackBerry Bold, Pearl and Curve, and soon the newly released BlackBerry Storm as well. The Socket Cordless Hand Scanner (available with CMOS imager or Class 1 or 2 laser) connected to a BlackBerry through application or SocketScan software can be used for various enterprise bar code scanning functions, such as inventory and asset management and field service. -- Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2008

VIA enters rugged panel market with the VIPRO VP7710
With touchscreens becoming ever more accepted by the public, Taiwanese core logic chipset and board maker VIA is branching out into the panel PC market with the VIA VIPRO VP7710 that can run Windows XP or an embedded OS. It's a compact, rugged, fanless design with a 10.4-inch display and good onboard connectivity. [Read description and specs of the VIA VIPRO VP7710 Panel PC] -- Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Full review: RMT SwitchBack rugged UMPC
The RMT SwitchBack is a fully rugged Ultra-Mobile PC with a very compact footprint of 7.4 x 5.9 inches and weighing just over three pounds. A modular "BackPack" system adds almost unlimited connectivity and expansion. What sets the SwitchBack apart is a unique processor architecture where a standard Intel processor is a peripheral to a Xilinx Virtex 5 FPGA platform that, with special programming, can perform complex, sophisticated tasks at record speed. Those who harness this power will find in the SwitchBack a compact, rugged machine of unparalleled flexibility. [Read full review of the RMT SwitchBack rugged UMPC] -- Posted Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New: RAM Mounts for the Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1
RAM Mounts has announced a range of flexible mounting solutions for the Panasonic Toughbook U1 rugged ultra-mobile PC. RAM offers both a powered dock that adds three USB ports and additional connectivity, as well as a passive cradle. Each can be configured with a no-drill vehicle mount, with a Tough-Box console mount, with a clamp mount, or with a flat surface mount. [See description of RAM's new mounts for the Panasonic U1] -- Posted Monday, November 17, 2008

Mobile device adoption in field service up 20% in past year
According to a research report by Aberdeen Group, rising cost pressures and the need to balance these pressures with rising customer expectations for service resulted in more companies evaluate mobile automation initiatives. Leading firms are looking to empower their field technicians and mobile workers with tools as to ensure quick and efficient service. Such firms saw a 19% increase in technician productivity over the last year, as well as greater levels of SLA compliance and higher service-based margins. Click to obtain a complimentary copy of the report. -- Posted Friday, November 14, 2008

Dual-core Atom 330: worth waiting for?
Intel's Atom processors with their super-low thermal design power seem a perfect fit not only for netbooks, but also for rugged mobile systems that need maximum battery life. has benchmarked the popular Atom N270, but many may hold out for the dual-core Atom 330 chip. Is it worth waiting for? PCPro ran benchmarks on an early system, and the results are mixed. [See PCPro's Atom 330 benchmarks] -- Posted Friday, November 14, 2008

MobileDemand Tablet PC increases productivity of beer wholesaler
MobileDemand issued a new case study, outlining the challenge Dale Lee Distributing Company, Inc., an Anheuser-Busch wholesaler located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, faced, and how MobileDemand offered a rugged Tablet PC-based solution that saved Dale Lee both time and money. [See MobileDemand case study] -- Posted Thursday, November 13, 2008

GD-Itronix GoBook VR2 wins Cygnus Law Enforcement Group 2008 Innovation Award
On November 9, the Cygnus Law Enforcement Group presented its 2008 Innovation awards at the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in San Diego. In the computer category, the General Dynamics Itronix GoBook VR-2 won and beat out, among finalists, a couple of other GD-Itronix products as well the Panasonic Toughbook U1. -- Posted Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Benchmarking: How does the Atom N270 compare with chips commonly used in rugged systems?
Intel's Atom chips have unbelievably low power consumption even at fairly high clock speeds. Does that mean they are the perfect solution for rugged mobile systems that require both performance AND long battery life? To find out, ran benchmarks on a Atom N270-equipped computer and compared the results to machines using the A110 and ultra-low voltage Core Solo and Core Duo chips. How did the Atom do? To find out how the Atom N270 measures up, click here. -- Posted Monday, November 10, 2008

Zebra introduces mobile RFID printing solution
Zebra Technologies is launching two mobile printers with thermal transfer RFID printing/encoding capability. The Zebra P4T and RP4T mobile printers use Bluetooth 2.0 or 802.11b/g WiFi, have a large LCD, and can print up to 4" wide. They are geared for indoor and outdoor applications in government, manufacturing, transportation and logistics and mobile field service. They are rugged, too, being able to handle 5-foot drops. [See spec sheet of the Zebra RP4T mobile printer with RFID printing/encoding capability] -- Posted Monday, November 10, 2008

SanDisk introduces next gen Flash management system for SSD
Solid State Disks offer a number of advantages to rugged computing in terms of reliability, durability, start-up and operation, but random write speeds can be a stumbling block. To address that (and other issues), SanDisk unveiled ExtremeFFS, an advanced flash file system for SSDs that yields dramatic improvement in performance and reliability for computing applications. [Read SanDisk release on ExtremeFFS] -- Posted Monday, November 10, 2008

Xplore reports 56% sales increase
Xplore Technologies, a manufacturer of award-winning rugged tablet PCs, reported revenue of approximately $8.1 million for the three months ended September 30, 2008, a 56% increase over the same period last year. President and CEO Mark Holleran said "we believe the growth in revenue reflects a favorable market response to our new generation of the iX104 which was launched in the last month of the quarter. Also, the revenue increase reflects our ability to develop a customized solution in a short period to win and deliver our largest single order with revenue of over $2.65 million." -- Posted Monday, November 10, 2008

Springfield Clinic: Motion C5 and Allscripts Enterprise Electronic Health Record
Motion Computing, a leader in mobile computing and wireless communications, announced that Springfield Clinic, a large multi-specialty physician clinic in Springfield, Illinois, successfully implemented its C5 Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA) and LE1700 Tablet PCs with the Allscripts Enterprise™ Electronic Health Record (EHR). The solution was deployed to 230 providers, several hundred nurses and ancillary staff with positive responses from both caregivers and patients. [Read press release] -- Posted Monday, November 10, 2008

Panasonic announces Toughbook H1 Mobile Clinical Assistant
Panasonic has introduced the 3.2-pound Panasonic H1 Mobile Medical Assistant, a machine designed specifically for medical/clinical environments where disinfection is as, or more, important than tech specs. The H1 uses an Atom Z540 processor for long battery life, includes an RFID reader, a sunlight-readable display, as well as dual intelligently switching digitizers. The machine features IP54 sealing and can handle 3-foot drops. [Read description and specs of the Panasonic Toughbook H1] -- Posted Friday, November 7, 2008

Intermec: Strong Q3 performance
Despite a trying economy, Intermec reported third quarter earning and revenue increases over the same quarter last year. The company earned $11 million on revenues of US$234 million ($4.4 million and US$206 Q3 2007), significantly outpacing analyst expectations. [Read Intermec press release] -- Posted Friday, November 7, 2008

Full review: DRS ARMOR X10
We've had a chance to spend a couple of months with the DRS ARMOR X10 ultra-rugged Tablet PC. The X10 is the latest version of a line of rugged pen tablets that goes back to the mid-1990s and has been continually improved over nine product generations. The new model shows an interesting mix of trademark design features and updated technology. The X10 has IP66 sealing, can operate within -4 and 140 degree Fahrenheit, and can be ordered with a touchscreen or an electromagnetic digitizer. [Read review of the DRS ARMOR X10] -- Posted Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fujitsu also updates P-Series LifeBook Tablet PC
Fujitsu also mildly updated its super-compact 2.2-pound LifeBook P-Series with Centrino 2 class processor, chipset and wireless (Atheros XSPAN also available), larger capacity and faster SATA hard disks (or a larger 64GB solid state disk). As before, the 8.9-inch 1280 x 800 WXGA display has a touchscreen and rotates both ways. Base price, however, is a steep US$2,179. [Read description and specs of the Fujitsu LifeBook P1630] -- Posted Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fujitsu updates mini notebook with Atom chip, GPS, more
Fujitsu released the Lifebook U820, a nicely updated version of the still available Lifebook U810. Instead of the old Intel A110 you now get a 1.6GHz Atom Z530 chip, bigger disks, faster WiFi, an improved keyboard and integrated GPS with Garmin Mobile PC software. With a 5.6-inch display and weighing just 1.3 pounds, the U820 is smaller than EeePC-class of computers, and it offers tablet convertible capabilities, but it is also more expensive (starting at US$1049). [Read detailed description and specs of the Fujitsu Lifebook U820.] -- Posted Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Motorola demonstrates super-fast 4G LTE network
Motorola says it has completed the industry's first over-the-air Long-Term Evolution (LTE) data sessions in the 700MHz spectrum using its super-fast 4G LTE Radio Access Test Network and LTE eNode-B platform with a prototype LTE device. The testing milestone was achieved in Motorola labs and at an outdoor location in Illinois, and demonstrates the progress Motorola is making toward bringing LTE to market in 2009. To learn more about LTE, check Motorola's LTE site. -- Posted Monday, November 3, 2008

Full review: RMT DAP CE8640B
RMT DAP Technologies' C8640B may look like a ruggedized UMPC, but it's not. It is a super-rugged Windows CE 5.0-powered handheld PC merging a 640 x 240 half-VGA touchscreen and a compact QWERTY keyboard into a handy and eminently useful package for a wide range of field-based applications where small size, total reliability, near endless battery life, and invincible toughness matter. [Read full review of the RMT DAP CE8640B] -- Posted Monday, November 3, 2008

WiMax named one of Fortune's 9 top tech flops reports WiMax as one of Fortune's 9 top tech flops of the year. Designed to access the web at broadband speed anywhere, WiMax coverage is very limited and consumers are waiting while Verizon and AT&T are working on deploying LTE, an even faster 4G technology. -- Posted Monday, November 3, 2008

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