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

December 2010

Full review: updated Getac B300 fully rugged notebook
The Getac B300 is Getac's entry into the hotly contested fully rugged notebook category, and the machine has recently received a major technology update. There's now Intel Core i7 power, more RAM and disk, improved ruggedness and dust/water sealing, and an even brighter display for best possible outdoor viewability. RuggedPCReview tested the upgraded B300 and found much to like. [See full review of the Getac B300 rugged notebook] -- Posted Friday, December 31, 2010

Fujitsu now out of hard drive business
Toshiba and Fujitsu announced that Toshiba has acquired Fujitsu's remaining stake in the Toshiba Storage Device Corporation (TSDC), which was formed late 2009 as a merger between the Toshiba's and Fujitsu's hard disk operations. This is relevant to the rugged market as Toshiba and Fujitsu have long held leading positions in hard disks designed for use in rugged environments. [See release] -- Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Taiwan OEMs beefing up on tablet technology
According to an article in the Taipei Times, leading Taiwanese OEMs are heavily investing in touch panel and tablet technologies. Compal, which is the world's second largest notebook contract manufacturer, is making a major investment in its brand-new Henghao Technology Co subsidiary that will be used for the purchase of a 4.5G Color Filter fab (see agreement) from Chunghwa Picture Tubes that can produce over 3 million touch sensor panels per month (from the specs, it appears 7-inch wide-screen). In addition to setting up Henghao Technology for glass-type projected capacitive touch-panel business, Compal also established a joint venture with Sitronix, a company that has developed voltage-driven multi-touch technology, which is said to be usable with fingers, pen or even gloves. -- Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Motorola Solutions to be a US$8-9 billion company
Motorola's self-imposed split into Motorola Mobility (cellphones) and Motorola Solution (enterprise and government business) is imminent. Symbol Technologies, which Motorola acquired a few years ago, will play a large part in the new Motorola Solutions company, which, according to an article in Washington Technology, will have US$8-9 billion in annual revenue. That's remarkable as a decade ago, UNOVA (which owned Intermec) and Symbol/Telxon combined had just US$4 billion in sales; see my 2000 vertical/rugged market industry assessment). The split is expected to help the new Motorola Solutions be better able to fully concentrate on next-gen handheld radios, scanners and mobile computers. -- Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2010

GammaTech D12C: Compact ruggedized convertible notebook with Intel Core i5 power
GammaTech Computer Corp announced the D12C convertible notebook computer with a 12.1-inch wide-format WXGA (1280 x 800 pixel) touch display with optional digitizer. The compact and quite rugged D12C weighs just 5.5 pounds and is geared towards on-the-go sales staff, students, travelers, among others. The device is highly configurable via I/O module that provide anything from additional USB ports to Smart Card, second camera, 3G wireless or GPS. [See description and specs of the GammaTech D12C] -- Posted Friday, December 24, 2010

N-trig pen and multi-touch technology now Oon Android
N-trig announced that its DuoSense pen and projected capacitive multi-touch solution enabled over a single digitizer is now compatible with the Android operating system. Available for a screen size range of 7-17 inches, DuoSense can be implemented across a wide variety of form factors, including slates, netbooks, tablets and desktop replacements. [See N-Trig DuoSense product page. For comparison, also see the Wacom G6 Multi-Touch system that works in conjunction with a pen] -- Posted Friday, December 24, 2010

"10 tablets that never quite took off"
This morning, one of my longterm PR contacts brought to my attention a feature entitled "10 tablets that never quite took off." It was published by itWorldCanada, which is part of Computerworld. Now Computerworld is one of the world's leading resources of excellent IT reporting, and has been for decades (I used to contribute to it in a former life as a corporate CIO), but the "slideshow" was disappointing and missed the point by listing some older tablets and mocking them. [Read more...] -- Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ambarella launches iOne HD imaging processor for Android devices
Ambarella announced availability of their new iOne System-on-Chip with a dual ARM9 cores and an ARM 11 core that brings advanced HD video and camera features to the Android platform. Why is this relevant? Because Ambarella is the company whose advanced image processing chips brought amazingly good HD video to inexpensive devices the past two or three years, and the new iOne chip has the potential to do the same for Android-based handhelds and tablets. [See press release] -- Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2010

VT Miltope RTSC-2: Core i7-based ultra-rugged military tablet
The VT Miltope RTSC-2 is part of Miltope's recently introduced line of HARD WEAR rugged computers for demanding military environments. The RTSC-2 consists of the compact and very rugged RTCU-2 tablet and a vehicle dock that provides all sorts of additional connectivity and interface options. The tablet itself is the first (or among the first) to use an ultra-low voltage Intel Core i7 chip in this class, providing excellent performance at low power draw. The 10.4-inch display is exceptionally bright (1,000 nits), and the tablet underwent and passed the full gamut of MIL-STD-810G testing. [See description and specs of the VT Miltope RTSC-2] -- Posted Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Arista launches new line of rugged industrial monitors
Arista Corporation, a designer and developers of industrial computers, announced the launch of a new line of NEMA 4X industrial stainless steel, corrosion resistant monitors. The ADM-5800AX series will be available in sizes of 15 (1024 x 768 XGA resolution, 250nits), 17, 19 (both 1280 x 1024 and 300 nits) and 42 inch (1680 x 1050 and 500 nits) models. An integrated VGA transmitter allows computers to be located up to 1,000 feet away from the monitors. [See Arista press release] -- Posted Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solzon partners with Handheld USA
Solzon Corporation, a provider of data mobility solutions and services, announces a reseller agreement with Handheld USA of Corvallis, OR. Solzon will add the Handheld line of rugged tablets, PDAs, and new ultra-rugged notebooks. -- Posted Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Samwell RUGGEDBOOK Tablet PC used by Olympic Air, Recall
Rugged tablets are being used in more and more applications where light weight and compact size matter. When Olympic Air decided to "go green" and replace paper-based flight reference materials, Samwell's Ruggedbook SR820 was part of their solution. Likewise, worldwide document storage and retrieval specialists Recall found the Ruggedbook SR820 a valuable tool for their complex SSA warehouse management systems. [Also see "The emerging market for rugged tablets"] -- Posted Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SocketScan for Android beta available now
Socket Mobile announced the availability of its SocketScan 10 beta for Android. SocketScan 10 is a versatile barcode scanning software tool that enables developers to add rapid and robust barcode scanning capabilities to their smartphone, tablet, notebook and desktop applications. Compatible products for the beta Android release include all v3 models of the Socket Bluetooth Cordless Hand Scanner Series 7 portable 2D and 1D barcode scanner. [See SocketScan 10 for Android] -- Posted Saturday, December 18, 2010

Full review: Samsung Galaxy Tab
The Samsung Galaxy Tab is not a rugged device, but we think our full review of it will still be of interest to many readers as the Galaxy Tab represents the first real contender to the iPad, and also shows what an Android-based tablet can, and cannot, do. In addition, Samsung uses a multi-touch touchscreen technology that can actually be used with (some) gloves. [See full review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab] -- Posted Friday, December 17, 2010

Xplore closes financing and recapitalization
Xplore Technologies announced it has closed transactions with Phoenix Venture Fund LLC, its principal stockholder, and others to eliminate all of its existing subordinated indebtedness by exchanging the indebtedness for preferred stock and provide additional financing to the company. As a result of the closing of the recapitalization, Xplore does not have any indebtedness other than under its working capital facility. -- Posted Friday, December 17, 2010

The Tablet Wars: Background and Outlook
Despite getting soundly trashed by a good number of industry experts when the iPad was first announced by Steve Jobs on January 27, 2010, Apple ended up selling about ten million of them in 2010, and predictions are that a lot more will be sold in the coming years. Everyone is scrambling to also have a tablet. Tablets are hot. The media now says tablets will demolish the netbook market, tablets will eat into notebook sales, Microsoft will gag and wither over having blown it with tablets, and so on and so on. Let's take a look at what's really happening, and what led to the current situation. [Read Conrad Blickenstorfer's "The Tablet Wars: Background and Outlook"] -- Posted Thursday, December 16, 2010

What was cool in 2003?
Technology moves very quickly, at least in terms of faster processors, more storage, better displays. Other than that, well, check the Pen Computing Magazine (from which Rugged PC Review spawned) 2003 Editor's Choice Awards and you'll see a lot of familiar names. Sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same! [See Pen Computing's 2003 Editor's Choice Awards] -- Posted Thursday, December 16, 2010

Full review: DLI 8800 rugged POS tablet
The Intel Atom-powered DLI 8800 is a compact, rugged tablet computer designed specifically for point-of-sale applications where retailers need to process payments, collect and exchange data, and communicate wirelessly both indoors and out. Of particular interest for POS applications is the 8800's 3-in-1 payment processing functionality that includes an integrated magnetic card reader, an integrated barcode scanner, and RFID for fully contactless payment transactions. Featuring a 7-inch touchscreen (or digitizer) and your choice of OS, the DLI 8800 is small and handy enough to be deployed almost anywhere, and tough enough to take quite a bit of abuse. [Read full review of the DLI 8800] -- Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2010

EMS Global Tracking expands Middle East presence
EMS Global Tracking, a division of EMS Technologies, Inc., announced today that it has opened a new office in Dubai to serve the Middle East and Africa region. The new office shares space with LXE, EMS's division offering ruggedized computers for locations such as warehouses and ports. LXE and EMS Global Tracking have found synergies in the region where customers require the asset tracking capability of LXE mobile computers to complement EMS Global Tracking technology. -- Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Group Mobile adds Getac S400 semi-rugged notebook
Phoenix, AZ, based rugged and mobile computer distributor Group Mobile has added the new Getac S400 semi-rugged notebook to its product offerings. The Getac S400 is built to withstand temperature extremes, shock, vibration, and drops from up to 2.5 feet. It features a 14" widescreen, sunlight-readable display, a water-resistant keyboard, an integrated webcam, and a Super Multi DVD drive. [See press release] -- Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DT Research's rugged tablet lineup
For years, San Jose, Calif., based DT Research was ahead of its time with their lineup of "information appliances." Now the market has caught up, tablets are hot, and DT Research has updated its tablet lineup with the WebDT 312, the WebDT 362, and the new WebDT 390, all based on the 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z530 and either Flash or SSD, and all available with a variety of different operating systems. All models are also far more rugged than consumer market tablets, and they are available with a variety of data collection technology (magstripe, RFID, smart card, scanners), making them uniquely suitable for all sorts of POS applications. -- Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Intermec CN3-based system aids hurricane relief efforts
Intermec, in partnership with wireless mobile application provider MobileFrame, has helped professional services firm PBS&J to enhance overall business processes and improve data tracking accuracy to 90%. Specializing in architecture, construction and engineering, PBS&J was brought on by the Mississippi Alternative Housing Program to help displaced Hurricane Katrina victims obtain new homes and deployed the Intermec CN3 rugged mobile computer and a MobileFrame application to ensure consistency and expedite processes for housing site inspections. -- Posted Monday, December 13, 2010

DAP Technologies introduces rugged, modular M4000 handhelds
DAP Technologies has introduced the M4000 series of modular rugged handheld computers. Aiming to be a rugged, powerful, yet lightweight addition to DAP's full line of handhelds, tablets and panels, the Marvell PXA270/Windows CE 5.0 powered M4000 comes in two versions (numeric and alphanumeric keypads), both of which have a 3.5-inch QVGA display, 1D laser and 1D/2D imager options; WiFi, Bluetooth and optional WWAN and GPS. Sealed to IP65 specs, able to survive 5-foot drops and operate in a wide temperature range (-4 to 122F), the M4000 series models are designed to be versatile, expandable workhorse handhelds for a variety of manufacturing, warehousing, public safety, security and field service applications. [See description and specs of the DAP M4000 series] -- Posted Monday, December 13, 2010

TI introduces 1.5GHz dual Core OMAP4440 processor
While Texas Instruments' OMAP processor never had the same visibility in the mobile/handheld market as the Intel/Marvell XScale PXA chips, they've been around and have had some nice design wins. Now TI introduced the OMAP4440 that we'll probably see much more of. The chip includes dual ARM Cortex A9 cores running at 1.5GHz, supports 1080p video, hardware accelerated 2D/3D graphics with support of all major graphics APIs, up to 20-megapixel imaging and advanced onboard photography features, HDMI output and support of up to 1920 x 1200 pixel, USB 2.0, all supplying a massive performance boost for handhelds and tablets at remarkably low power consumption. [See TI OMAP4440 product bulletin] -- Posted Thursday, December 9, 2010

Psion announces upcoming low-cost EP10 rugged PDA
Psion Teklogix launched the new Psion EP10 handheld computer in Shanghai. Available in Q2 2011, the EP10 will list at less than $2,500 and is part of the company's "Open Source Mobility" modular technology platform strategy. The EP10 will be based on an 800MHz TI Sitara 3715 OMAP3 processor (XT10 has 600MHz version); have a 3.7-inch VGA display; offer WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G cellular (both CDMA EVDO Rev A and GSM HSPA+); and include digital compass, gyroscope, accelerometer and proximity sensor. Psion hopes the EP10 will attract business users who currently use standard, non-rugged consumer smartphones in the field. [See Psion press release on the EP10] -- Posted Thursday, December 9, 2010

Intermec expands SR61T scanner line
Intermec announced an expansion of its SR61T industrial scanning portfolio with the new SR61THP high performance scanner, the SR61TXR extra range scanner and the SR61T2D industrial range imager. The SR61THP is the market's most advanced motion-tolerant bar code scanner, with unique illumination and a red laser aimer to read bar codes at top speeds and in codes of all colors. The SR61TXR uses Intermec's new third gen EX25 scan engine for the industry's only near/far long-range 2D scanner, providing the longest read range of any bar code scanner. The new solutions are targeted at customers in warehouse and manufacturing operations needing improved operator productivity and overall scanner reliability. -- Posted Thursday, December 9, 2010

Samwell RUGGEDBOOK earns Taiwan Government Joint Procurement Program Status
The Samwell Group announced that its RUGGEDBOOK SR858 rugged notebook computer (see our full review of the SR858) successfully qualified for the Taiwan Government Joint Procurement Program. This will allow Samwell, a major domestic IPC supplier, to work with the R.O.C. Taiwan Coast Guard Administration in their adoption of the Samwell SR858 military rugged notebook for patrolling operations. The SR858, which carries an IP65 ingress protection rating and MIL-STD-810F & MIL-STD-461E ruggedness testing certifications, includes a sunlight-readable display, as well as GPS, 802.11a/g/n WiFi, BlueTooth 2.1 and 3.5G WWAN communications. Samwell considers its acceptance into the governmental procurement program a reflection of their advanced yet affordable technology, quality, a strong supply chain, as well as first-rate tech and after-sales support. -- Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Motorola and Janam resolve patent disputes
The Motorola Solutions business of Motorola and Janam Technologies announced that Motorola -- together with its subsidiary, Symbol Technologies -- and Janam have reached an agreement that settles all outstanding intellectual property disputes between the two companies. Symbol had filed suit in 2008, but litigation now ends with Janam taking a royalty-bearing license under Symbol's patents in the fields of mobile computing, wireless technology and laser- and imaging-based barcode scanning for finished mobile computing terminals. -- Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2010

UK college replaces PCs with Wyse cloud client computing
Wyse Technology announced a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) implementation at New College Durham in the North East of England. The college will be replacing 1,200 PCs with Wyse zero clients that have no OS at all. The Wyse zero clients use ten times less power than an equivalent workstation, have a lifespan of up to 10 years, and can be deployed much faster and are easier to replace and re-deploy as campus requirements change. Wyse also claims that Zero Clients with desktop virtualization improve security, manageability, TOC and the overall user experience. -- Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2010

3M debuts MD6000 multi-mode ID reader
3M Security Systems introduced the 3M MD6000 Mobile ID Reader, a lightweight handheld reader device with five data capture modes giving users the capability to validate multiple types of IDs while in the field, those being OCR, mag stripe, contactless and contact RF, and fingerprint scans. In all five modes, the device then encrypts and relays data via Bluetooth to a rugged handheld or laptop, tablet PC or smartphone. -- Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Motorola Solutions introduces MC55A0 rugged handheld
Motorola Solutions has introduced the MC55A0, a significant technology refresh of the MC55 platform of rugged handhelds. The new MC55A0 should be much faster thanks to a Marvel PXA320 processor, the new "PenTile" VGA display is very bright and sharp thanks to the addition of an additional white sub-pixel, the device is better sealed (IP64) and more rugged (6-foot drop), camera (3.2mp) and scanners (1D SE960 or 2D SE4500) have been improved, and it's now running WinMo 6.5. Note that there's VoIP but no WWAN on this model (for that you want to look at the MC65), and there is a healthcare version of the MC55A0. [See detailed description and specs of the Motorola MC55A0] -- Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2010

UK distributor Varlink sees double-digit annual sales growth, again
UK mobile computing distributor Varlink is posting another double-digit annual sales hike. According to, the York-based distributor is expecting to report sales of over 8m for its financial year 2010, compared with 7.02m in 2009 and 5.45m in 2008. -- Posted Monday, December 6, 2010

Glove-capable Atmel maXTouch multi-touch now available for up to 15-inch displays
The folks at Atmel are now shipping their new maXTouch mXT1386/mXT616 chipsets that can handle touchscreens up to 15 inches. Their patented QMatrix technology offers multi-touch with unlimited touch capability, low power consumption, and the ability to detect touches with a finger nail, stylus and gloves. If this sounds sounds too good to be true, it's not: Atmel's maXTouch is being used in various HTC phones and also in the Samsung Galaxy Tab (ours works flawlessly with gloves, even for multi-touch). [See Atmel maXTouch page] -- Posted Monday, December 6, 2010

Trimble Introduces the SiteFID Gas Monitoring Solution
Trimble introduced the SiteFID Gas Monitoring solution for the environmental services market. The solution, designed for environmental consultants and landfill operations managers, integrates positioning and mobile computing capabilities coupled with Flame Ionization Detection (FID) gas sensor technology, helping mobile workers to streamline their workflow as well as improve accuracy and compliance while on site. [See Trimble SiteFID page] -- Posted Monday, December 6, 2010

Verizon launches 4G LTE service 12/5/2010
Verizon Wireless announced it is turning on the world's first large-scale 4G LTE network on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010. Business users will be the first on the new 4G LTE network with speeds that Verizon says are up to 10 times faster than the company's 3G network. 4G LTE Mobile Broadband data plans start at $50/month for 5 GB/month, and Verizon sells two new 4G LTE USB modems, the LG VL600 and the Pantech UML290, both 3G backward compatible and costing US$99 after rebates and with a 2-year service contract. [See 4G service info and availability] -- Posted Thursday, December 2, 2010

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    The editor and co-founder of Pen Computing Magazine launched late 2005 as a website dedicated to providing news and information about rugged mobile computer technology and its applications. The site aims to be an industry clearinghouse for rugged computing equipment hardware reviews as well as an information source on rugged computing terminology, definitions, testing, and enabling technologies.

    "Over the many years that we have been testing and reviewing rugged mobile computers, and in our professional careers prior, we have noticed that there is very little standardization and that potential clients are often confused where and what to buy," said Dr. Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, Editor-in-Chief of and former CIO of the New York State Dormitory Authority. "We hope that our new service will answer many questions and provide all the answers a client needs to make an informed decision."