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

June 2012

BSQUARE renews Microsoft Embedded OEM distribution agreement for 14th year
BSQUARE announced the renewal of their OEM distribution agreement with Microsoft, allowing Bsquare to provide OEMs with licenses for Microsoft Windows Embedded products including Windows Embedded Standard 7, Windows Embedded Compact 7, Windows Embedded Server and vertical specific operating systems such as POSReady 7. The agreement renews the Bsquare/Microsoft distribution relationship for the 14th year. [See BSQUARE press release] -- Posted Friday, June 29, 2012

Motorola Solutions announces Android-based MC40 Mobile Computer and Mobile Workforce Management software
Also as part of its vision of the future of retail in New York City, Motorola Solutions announced the MC40 mobile computer. Looking more like a sleek, enterprise-class smartphone than a traditional handheld computer, the very durable MC40 runs a secure, fortified version of Android on a large 4.3-inch display. There's 1D/2D scanning, an integrated mag stripe reader, a high-res camera, push-to-talk radio, and a user-replaceable full-shift battery. With the entire current lineup of Motorola MC handhelds still running Windows CE or Windows Mobile, is the MC40 an indication of things to come? Motorola Solutions also announced new Mobile Workforce Management (MWM) for efficiently generating, assigning, delivering, receiving, monitoring and escalating tasks for mobile workers. MWM will be used with devices such as the SB1, MC40, ET1 Tablet (see here) and others, reducing the need for store managers to physically walk the store and track the progress of each employee on their to-do list. [See MC40 Mobile Computer] -- Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Motorola Solutions unveils SB1 Smart Badge as affordable, wearable device for retail
Before Motorola acquired Symbol Technologies, Symbol would often shows us their latest future-oriented retail shopping technology concepts. Some were way ahead of their time, others quickly made it into production. Innovation remains alive and well at Motorola Solutions, which unveiled its vision of the future of retail in a mock store setting in New York City. Part of it is the SB1 Smart Badge that combines ID badge, scanning, push-to-talk radio, data lookup and some PIM functionality. [See Motorola Solutions SB1 Smart Badge] -- Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Qualcomm launches Windows RT Metro Style App Developer Contest
Qualcomm announced at Uplinq 2012 the Windows RT Metro Style App Developer Contest, to identify the most promising app for Windows RT devices. The developers of the winning apps will be awarded up to $200,000 in cash prizes. Contest categories include best overall Windows RT app, most compelling connectivity use case, best gaming app, best productivity app and best AllJoyn peer-to-peer application. [See Windows Metro Style App Developer Contest] -- Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Microsoft tablets a result of hardware partner failure? Not a chance.
Ever since Microsoft provided a glimpse at a couple of "Surface" tablet hardware prototypes, some in the media are describing Microsoft's apparent entry into the hardware market as a result of Microsoft hardware partner failure. As if, somehow, the combined might of the world's computer manufacturers failed to come up with tablet hardware good enough to do Windows justice. [... read more.] -- Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Intermec's Vocollect also helps Sysco Guest Supply
Intermec also reported that its Vocollect business unit, together with Vitech Business Group, achieved a 28% boost in throughput performance and a 26-28% put away increase at Sysco Guest Supply, the largest full-service provider of personal care amenity programs and room accessories to the lodging industry, which deployed Vocollect Voice across eight workflows in ten U.S. distribution centers. -- Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Intermec announces successful Vocollect Voice deployment
Intermec announced that its Vocollect business unit, together with global supply chain optimization provider Manhattan Associates, had a successful deployment of its Vocollect Voice technology with Nature's Best, the nation’s largest privately-owned wholesaler-distributor of natural and organic products. Deployment results included a 30% productivity and a 60% accuracy improvement, resulting in savings of almost 1,500 annual man-hours as well as reduced training requirements and improved worker safety. [See Intermec press release] -- Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Black Diamond Modular Tactical System selected by US Air Force for dismounted close air support
Black Diamond has received a Firm Fixed-Price Contract for a unique configuration of its Modular Tactical System (MTS -- see our description) from the U.S. Air Force / Air Force Materiel Command Aeronautical Systems Center. This procurement is for the Battlefield Air Operations Operator Control System, a dismounted, precision-strike and communications-control solution primarily used by special operations forces. -- Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012

BSQUARE announces DragonBoard Android development platform
BSQUARE, an enabler of smart, connected devices, announced availability of a DragonBoard development platform for Android intended to facilitate development and testing by device makers, application developers and other hardware and software suppliers, who are working with devices that run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S1 MSM7x27A processor. The development platform ships with a Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 processor, sensor and connectivity daughter cards, 480x800 display/touchscreen, 1MP/5MP camera, battery and earphone. [See DragonBoard web page]
-- Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Panasonic and Sony to work together on next-gen large-size OLED displays
Sony and Panasonic announced they have signed an agreement regarding the joint development of next-gen OLED (organic light-emitting diode) panels and modules for large-sized displays. The two companies are planning to set up the mass-production technology required for cost-competitive large OLED panels during 2013. -- Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Advantech 18.5-inch infotainment terminal now with Android 4.0
Advantech announced that its HIT-W181 infotainment terminal is now available with Android 4.0. The fanless HIT-W181 has an 18.5-inch 16:9 aspect ratio wide-format multi-touch screen and is powered by a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Atom D525 processor. [See Advantech press release] -- Posted Monday, June 25, 2012

Motion Computing named 2012 Microsoft Country Partner of the Year for the US
Motion Computing announced it has won the 2012 Microsoft Country Partner of the Year Award for the United States. The company was honored among a global field of top Microsoft partners for demonstrating excellence in innovation and implementation of customer solutions based on Microsoft technology. The Microsoft Partner Awards recognize Microsoft partners that have developed and delivered exceptional Microsoft-based solutions during the past year. -- Posted Monday, June 25, 2012

Xplore reports record revenues for fiscal 2012
Xplore Technologies reported financials for Q4 2012 and all of 2012. Q4 revenues were US$10.8 million with net income of US$1.35 million, making it Xplore's second profitable quarter in a row. For the entire fiscal year 2012, Xplore reported revenues of US$27.5 million, up from US$17.8 million for fiscal 2011. There was a net loss of US$0.52 million for the full year, compared with a net loss of US$6.4 million in 2011. Xplore attributes the good results to increased marketplace acceptance of the tablet form factor and mentioned a recent VDC Research projection of worldwide sales in the rugged mobile computing market to grow to more than US$6.8 billion by the end of 2013 and the market for large form factor rugged devices to grow to US$3.5 billion by the end of 2013. -- Posted Monday, June 25, 2012

Conference report: 5th Annual DisplaySearch Digital Signage Conference at InfoCom12 in Las Vegas
The 5th annual DisplaySearch Digital Signage Conference took place June 12, 2012 in Las Vegas in conjunction with InfoComm12. NPD DisplaySearch is an industry research, information and analysis firm covering, among other areas, displays and mobile computers. This conference provided an overview of digital signage, its technologies, and its outlook. was there to report. [See our DisplaySearch Digital Signage Conference coverage] -- Posted Monday, June 25, 2012

Samwell RUGGEDBOOK 750: 10.4-inch display, Atom N2600, SSD
If you're looking for a conventional toughened-up tablet computer that can take the occasional spill or drop, yet uses contemporary technology (Intel Atom N2600, SSD, SDHC, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 3.0, etc.), the Samwell RUGGEDBOOK 750 should be of interest. [See description and specs of the Samwell Ruggedbook 750] -- Posted Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thoughts about Windows Phone 8
While Phone 7 and the Phone 7.5 update were billed as the future, apparently they weren't as now there will be Windows Phone 8, which is.... completely incompatible with Phone 7/7.5. And why? Because Phone 8 will supposedly share the same Windows kernel that "real" Windows has ... [read more] -- Posted Friday, June 22, 2012

Overview of tablet computer history and future
With Microsoft's unveiling of the "Surface" tablet concept, there is in many places once again the misconception that somehow Microsoft invented the tablet back in 2001. Not so. Tablets have been around for much longer, and they were once nearly as hot as they are now (ever wonder why the ThinkPad laptop is called a pad?). For an interesting overview of tablet technology and some of the early products, view this presentation given by editor-in-chief Conrad H. Blickenstorfer in Taiwan in December of 2001. [View the "Past and Future of Tablets" presentation (PDF)] -- Posted Thursday, June 21, 2012

Microsoft unveils Windows Phone 8
Windows Phone 7, we hardly knew you. At the Windows Phone Develop Summit Microsoft discussed the upcoming Windows Phone 8. Right upfront: since the Windows 7 core was still based on Windows CE (though it wasn't compatible with Windows Mobile) and Windows 8 will have a shared Windows core (yes, it's back to Windows on all devices), Phone 7 devices cannot be upgraded to Windows Phone 8 (but there will be a Windows Phone 7.8 for "legacy devices."). Initial Windows Phone 8 devices will be dual-core, offer higher resolution (up to 1280 x 768 pixel), have microSD card support, and early hardware will come from Nokia, Samsung, HTC, and Huawei. As expected, the interface is using the tile approach already known from Phone 7 and the preview versions of the Windows 8 Metro interface. -- Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Scriptel announces GloveCap glove-capable capacitive touchscreen technology
Scriptel Corporation announced GloveCap, a new capacitive touchscreen technology that can register contact through most types of electrically insulated materials and has the ability to distinguish touch from bare hands to thick insulated gloves. GloveCap technology can be used in a wide range of consumer and industrial applications including unattended outdoor interactive displays, tablets, computer monitors, medical devices, in-car navigation, and industrial controls. Products using GloveCap technology will be available in Q4 2012. [See Scriptel GloveCap page] -- Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Juniper Systems introduces MS Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 upgrade for the Mesa Rugged Notepad
Juniper Systems is making available Microsoft Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 for their Mesa Rugged Notepad (see our full review of the Mesa). This latest version includes Microsoft operating system updates, new features requested by customers, and other various improvements such as a Microsoft Office Mobile upgrade to Office Mobile 2010 that supports Office 2010 file formats, a new finger-friendly "Mega Keys" on-screen keyboard, and improved GPS functionality. The new OS is now shipping on new Mesa Rugged Notepads and is available to download for all existing Mesa Rugged Notepads on the Juniper Systems website. [See Juniper Systems press release] -- Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Future of Rugged Computers
AMREL posted a new article on the future of rugged computers in its official blog. We love it because ... it was written by RuggedPCReview. :-) [Read Executive Briefing: The Future of Rugged Computers] -- Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cloud computing and Tablet PCs
MobileDemand posted a nice summary of cloud computing opportunities in a blog entry entitled "Making the Leap to Cloud Computing with Tablet PCs". -- Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microsoft unveils Surface tablets
Not rugged, but definitely relevant: Microsoft unveiled its "Surface" tablet computers in Hollywood, CA. The very iPad-esque looking Surface tablets, which are designed and engineered by Microsoft, will come in two varieties, one running Windows 8 on x86 processors (3rd gen Intel Core) and the other Windows RT on ARM-based systems. Both versions have 10.6-inch displays, kickstands and pressure-sensitive touch covers for typing in an arrangement similar to the Compaq Concerto of the mid-1990s. The x86 version will weigh two pounds and have a 42 watt-hour battery, the ARM version 1.5 pounds with a smaller 31.5 watt-hour battery. The RT model will be available when Windows 8 is released later this year, the x86 model three months later. Differences between the two versions: The x86 model has USB 3.0 instead of 2.0, microSDHC instead of microSD, DiaplayPort instead of Micro HD, up to 128GB instead of up to 64GB. [See Microsoft press release] -- Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Getac video about the company and its products and philosophy
Getac posted a new 3-1/2 minute "About Getac" video where several Getac executives explain the company, its rugged products and its philosophy. The video also includes some excellent footage showing the various production processes as well as product testing. [View Getac video] -- Posted Monday, June 18, 2012

Motorola Solutions buying Psion!
Motorola Solutions announced it will acquire Psion in a transaction where Motorola Solutions will purchase all Psion shares for about US$200 million. Psion currently has over 800 employees and had 2011 sales of about US$275 million, dwarfed by Moto Solutions' 2011 sales of US$8.2 billion. Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions, said: "Psion is a compelling opportunity to strengthen our industry-leading, mobile-computing portfolio with ruggedized handheld products and vehicle-mount terminals that will deepen our presence in the global markets in which we compete." Our take: Psion, of course, started with consumer handhelds, but ever since the acquisition of Teklogix in 2000, the Teklogix side of rugged computing devices took over and eventually became all of Psion. The rugged computing side of Motorola Solutions is really Symbol, and there seems very considerable product overlap between the two companies. The US$200 million purchase price is almost pocket change for a company like Motorola Solutions, and it should be interesting to see how this all plays out. [See Motorola Solutions press release] -- Posted Friday, June 15, 2012

Motion Computing June 2012 newsletter
Motion Computing issued its June 2012 newsletter. Its spotlight is on Motion's large roster of peripherals for its CL900, F5/C5 and J-Series tablet computers. The newsletter also alerts to upcoming webinars and Motion news coverage. [See Motion Computing's June 2012 newsletter] -- Posted Friday, June 15, 2012

NPD DisplaySearch Digital Signage Conference at InfoComm 2012 participated at the NPD DisplaySearch digital signage conference held in conjunction with InfoComm 2012 in Las Vegas. Interesting industry presentations on opportunities and challenges in increasingly sophisticated digital signage systems that share many current and emerging technologies with rugged computers: outdoor viewability, reliability, thermal management, touch, etc. We'll post a full confence report. -- Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012

F4Devices announces Australian distribution
F4Devices, a strategic partner with BAP Precision, Taiwan, announced the establishment of an Australian distributor located in Adelaide, South Australia. Cody Corporation has agreed to carry the F4Devices product line for the Australasian region on an exclusive basis. In addition to order fulfillment, Cody Corp will provide all warranty and out of warranty repair services for the newly released Flint handheld as well as subsequent hardware releases from F4Devices (see our full review of the BAP Precision S-Series). -- Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Intermec announces corporate restructuring plan
Intermec announced a corporate restructuring plan to better align its cost structure with its current and anticipated needs by lowering costs primarily in North America and Europe. The restructuring plan seeks to lower the company’s general and administrative and support costs while limiting the impact on R&D and global sales operations, especially in higher growth regions such as Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Eastern Europe. The company expects to eliminate approximately 170 positions or 7% of its global workforce. [See press release] -- Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Trimble acquires GEOTrac
Trimble announced that it has acquired privately-held GEOTrac Systems of Calgary, a provider of wireless fleet management and worker safety solutions for the oil and gas industry. The addition of GEOTrac is expected to extend Trimble's PeopleNet transportation solutions to address the North American oil and gas industry. [See Trimble press release] -- Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Advantech introduces rugged Atom N2600/D2550-based ARK-2120 embedded box PC
Advantech unveiled the ARK-2120, a fanless industrial box PC powered by Intel Atom N2600/ D2550 dual core processor. This latest gen of Atom processors brings significant improvement on processing power and, especially, graphics performance. The platform is designed to provide energy-efficient and environmentally responsible solutions in deployments such as factory automation, machine automation, and self-service kiosks. [See Advantech press release] -- Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2012

JLT Mobile signs partner agreement with FARA
Swedish rugged computer specialist JLT Mobile Computers said it has signed a partner agreement with Norwegian FARA, a provider of e-ticket solutions for the public transportation sector. In particular, FARA has chosen JLT’s rugged, flexible vehicle computer JLT8404 for its ticketing systems for buses. The computer was tailored to FARA's requirements that it be easily mounted in a bus. [See JLT press release] -- Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2012

ecom instruments and Intermec Announce New intrinsically safe handheld mobile computer
Ecom instruments and Intermec announced the Canadian premier of their new intrinsically safe handheld mobile computer for use in hazardous environments that include oil refineries and drilling platforms, petrochemical, pharmaceutical production, agriculture processing and other explosion-classified environments. The new i.roc Ci70 -Ex is the first product offering resulting from the strategic partnership between Intermec and ecom instruments announced in December 2011. The Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5.3-powered i.roc Ci70 -Ex will be exclusively sold and distributed by ecom. -- Posted Monday, June 11, 2012

Rand McNally introduces ruggedized WiFi GPS for truck navigation
Rugged versions of electronics pop up in more and more places. Rand McNally just introduced their truck-oriented IntelliRoute TND 720 GPS device that packs WiFi, truck routing, fuel logging, "bread-crumb" trails and a real-time weather feature into a new ruggedized housing with a bright 7-inch display. [See RandMcNally TND 720]
-- Posted Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Balance selects Psion Omnii XT15 for distribution centers
Psion announced that global athletic and lifestyle company New Balance has selected the Psion Omnii XT15 as the mobile handheld for its distribution centers. New Balance has purchased hundreds of Psion Omnii XT15’s to streamline order tracking in its factory and distribution centers across the country. New Balance plans to roll out the Psion Omnii XT15 to all of its distribution centers in 2012. [See Psion press release] -- Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SunBriteTV's all-weather outdoor-viewable TVs
Outdoor-viewable LCD displays aren't just for rugged computers anymore. A California company named SunBriteTV offers 32 to 65-inch flatscreen TVs that resist rain, humidity, salt corrosion, dust, and insects, and outside temperatures from -40 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit. Prices start at US$1,495 for a 32" model to US$5,995 for a 65" model with waterproof detachable speakers. While originally conceived for consumers, these screens can easily be used for a variety of rugged computing projects. [See SunBriteTV website] -- Posted Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Added: Dell Latitude e6420 XFR fully-rugged notebook
Fully rugged notebooks are used in situations where consumer technology, even the more durable kind, simply can't survive. For those situations, Dell offers the e6420 XFR, a 9-pound fortress that combines high-volume Dell Latitude underpinnings with a very tough body that can handle just about any abuse (all certified via MIL-STD-810G testing). The wide format 14-inch display has the highly rated DirectVue anti-reflective, anti-glare technology, and the device can be customized for just about any deployment with a long list of options. [See description and specs of the Dell Latitude e6420 XFR] -- Posted Monday, June 4, 2012

Added: Dell Latitude e6420 ATG semi-rugged notebook
Semi-rugged generally means the ability to better survive the assorted drops and spills that inevitably happen when a laptop computer is used as a tool on the job rather than just sit on a desk most of the time. In this category, Dell offers the e6420 ATG ("all terrain grade") based on its Latitude series. It weighs 6 pounds, has a 14-inch display (available with touch), and offers all the technology and features expected from a modern notebook, only in a more solid and better protected form. [See description and specs of the Dell Latitude e6420 ATG] -- Posted Monday, June 4, 2012

Amrel DB6 rugged Windows handheld improved
AMREL reports that its Intel Atom-based DB6 rugged handheld (see our review) has been upgraded with an enhanced touch screen and expanded integration capabilities. The DB6 has a 800 x 480 5-inch touch screen, runs Windows 7, and weighs just 1.5 pounds. -- Posted Friday, June 1, 2012

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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."