Get "Tough" With Your PDA!
By Glenn Letham (email@example.com) January 15, 2003
Note: More recent device updates may now be available from the suppliers mentioned. Please be sure to visit their websites for the latest news and product updates.
Here's the scenario, you're out in the field, at the beach, on a boat, or even in your backyard. You
collect data, meticulously streaming coordinates from your GPS, loading data attibutes into a database,
and even storing digital images and video which are automatically captured, associated with, and linked to the data you are so
patiently gathering. Suddenly, you trip over a stump and drop your PDA; or perhaps you slip in some mud and go head-over-heels, your PDA
landing in 6 inches of water. Unfortunately this is all too common of a scenario.. your data may be retrievable, however, you are likely
going to be going back to the office requesting a PO from the boss to replace your PDA. Next time you might wish to consider spending
a few more dollars and investing in a "rugged" unit... there's plenty of them out there. Here's just a few options you might wish to consider.
Trimble's The GeoExplorer® CE series - a new tool for GPS/GIS data collection and mobile GIS applications: the GPS CE handheld, a Trimble GPS receiver integrated with a Windows CE field
computer. GIS users will be interested in the GPScorrect for ArcPad,
Differential postprocessing and
seamless GPS control with
ESRI´s ArcPad mobile GIS
software. The series replaces the former GeoExplorer®3, a Rugged handheld mapping system with integrated GPS receiver and Windows CEwww.trimble.com. For the latest on the Geo CE series see the company's website and this brochure (PDF).
Panasonic Toughbook 01 - Wireless handheld PC wighing in at lest than one pound.
the unit comes standard with a cradle and has optional GPS module. Supports mapping and messaging applications and features
such capabilities as touch-screens, daylight readable display, and integrated wireless connectivity.
- OS: Microsoft® Windows® CE 3.0
- CPU: Intel® Strong ARM® SA-1110 Microprocessor 206MHz
- Size: 1.6"(H) x 3.9"(D) x 6.8"(W), 1 lb
- Memory: 32MB SDRAM standard; 32MB Flash
- Display: 3.5" 240 x 320 LCD with Touchscreen and Frontlight
- Keypad: 38-key keyboard with backlight
- Power: Lithium Ion Rechargeable Battery, up to 8 hours
- AC Adapter
- Touchscreen LCD
- Infrared IrDA SiR
- Headphone/speaker jack
- Password security
- Extras: Integrated 802.11b Wireless LAN, GSM/GPRS, compact flash card - GPS
Symbol Technologies PDT 8000 - Introduced in Sept. 2002, this device is a
Microsoft Windows Powered Pocket PC-based mobile computing product with integrated bar code scanning and wireless
local area network and wide area network capabilities. the company boasts the following features:
high performance, low power consumption and fast throughput. Boasts a "drop distance" of 5 ft. / 1.5 m to concrete.
Fully compatible with Microsoft SDK for Pocket PCs. See www.symbol.com
- OS: Microsoft® Pocket PC 2002
- Weight: 20.8 oz /589 g
- Communication: WLAN, WWAN, or WPAN
- Processor: Intel® XScale™ PXA250
- Memory: 64 MB RAM/64 MB ROM or 128 MB RAM/64 MB ROM
- Display: 3.9 in., 1/4 VGA color
- Temp. Range: 14º to 122º F/-10º to 50º C
- IrDA and RS-232 ports
- Backlight display
- Optional GPRS, dual mode WLAN or Socket Bluetooth™ module
- Optional: Cradle, speaker/mic jack, stripe reader, charger
LXE MX4 - Also introduced in Sept. 2002,
the MX4 may have some of the features of a PDA, but it
is much more than a PDA. The MX4 is a true industrial mobile computer that is designed for harsh
environments -- including water submersion of up to one meter.
The unit's 22-key keypad is watertight (IP67) and has large, high- visibility backlit keys that allow for
gloved-hand operation in low-light situations.
- OS: Windows™ CE 3.0
- Processor: Intel™ SA-1110 processor (206Mhz)
- Java Powered™
- 22 key keypad
- 64 MB SDRAM
- Backlit keypad
- Display: 240x320 monochrome
- IrDA comm port
2700s - From the developer... "after 3 years of field use without one failure the 2007 is now obsolete and the New 2007-S code named "Predator"
under TUSANI trademark is available in small quantities. The
2007-S is available with Micronics TUSANI Wearable GPS system as standard.
The new ruggedised unit is much sleeker and sexier than 2007 and supports an
embedded iPAQ 38/3900 series." The units are available in 4 different colours
and we are experimenting with a camouflage version for the military for the
" Future soldier programs"
The 2007-S will be available as a retrofit kit in the near future to GIS
clients who have a 38/3900 series iPAQ and wishes to ruggedise and
weatherproof their iPAQ. With the kit a comes a modified Wall plug charger and modified
serial/usb download cable for clients who do not have bluetooth version of
HP iPAQs. Applications with ESRI's ArcPAD can be obtained from RIA (www.ria.com.au)
(ArcPAD designers) or Micronics GPS (www.micronicsgps.com)
Intermec 700 - The 700 Color
model adds a large, brilliant color display, combined with the power and speed of Intel
Corp.’s 400 MHz X-Scale processor to increase the flexibility and functionality of the original
700 Series. The 700 Color is the first enterprise Pocket PC to offer an imager, suitable for
reading barcodes (including 2D symbologies), taking photographs and capturing
signatures. The 700 Color also is first to integrate up to three wireless communication
options in a single device, including a wireless local area (802.11b) radio, a GSM/GPRS
wide area network radio and a fully integrated power-managed Bluetooth™ radio. Versions with GSM/GPRS or CDMA/1xRTT wide-area radios have been made available inavailable in Q4 2002.
- OS: Pocket PC 2002
- Processor: Intel X-Scale 400 MHz
- Daylight Readable Color Display
- Display: 240x320 pixels, 3.8 in, 64K colors
- WLAN integrated
- optional 802.11b radio
- Bluetooth™* Compatible
- 14.4 Watt-hour Lithium-Ion battery
- Operating Temp: -10° to +60°C
- Size: L 7.53 in., W 3.5 in, H 1.97 in.
- Weight: 483-568 grams (17-20 oz)
- Memory: 64 MB RAM (128 optional)
- Comm: RS232, IrDA 1.1 (115 kbps), 10 Base-T Ethernet, USB
- Optional V.90 modem
Custom GPS Backpacks - Users having the need for GPS backpacks for long duration field data gathering
will find some great solutions from Prairie Geomatics (Alberta, Canada). They produce and sell custom kits as
well as some of the components, although hardware may have to be purchased separately from vendors.
They also supply custom cables for use with
various GPS and differential receiver combinations, including the Compaq iPAQ or the PalmVx used for field data collection.
Prairie Geomatics also distributes the Armor 2000 case for Handheld Computers.
The unique clear plastic front allows you to use the unit while in the case, while offering
complete protection from rain, snow, dust, dirt, etc.
- It floats!
- Air Tight
- Lifetime Guarantee
Navman GPS Sleeve - Not exactly a PDA, nor is it rugged, but this product is definitely a must consider for
anyone involved in field data collection. This Satellite GPS Receiver has been
developed for specifically for the iPaq, supports H3600 series with Rom ver. 1.77 or higher(Palm units also available). The Navman GPS sleeve also comes with
optional SMARTPATH GPS Software with 125,000
Towns and Cities, for 13 Countries in 5 Languages. See www.navman-mobile.com
- Receiver: SiRF Star2e chip set
- Op. Temp: 0°C to 70°C
- 1575.42MHz (L1 band), C/A code, SPS
- Helix Antenna
- 2 second update rate
- Output: NMEA 0183 ver. 2.20 GPGGA, GPGSA, GPRMC and GPGSV
- Horizontal Accuracy: 5 meters typical
- Vert. Accuracy: 1.5 times horizontal
Itronix Introduces GoBook II - Itronix
Ushers in New Era of Wireless Mobile Computing; GoBook II Supports Seamless Roaming
Across Multiple Wireless Networks and 1.7 Gigahertz Mobile Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4
Processing Power. Built with a die-cast
magnesium housing; an outdoor touch-screen display and NiteVue™ keyboard, the GoBook
II exceeds Mil Spec 810F test standards, making it very durable.
- Pentium IV 1.7 GHz processor
- upto1024 MB DRAM and up to 30 GB hard drive
- MSRP of $4,495
- supports up to three different wireless networks, including 802.11b (wireless
LAN); Bluetooth; and wireless WAN technologies such as CDMA 1xRTT, CDPD, and
Falcon® 4420/4410 Windows® CE Terminal - The Falcon(R) 4410 and Falcon 4420 combine the power and flexibility of Windows CE .NET and an Intel XScale 400MHz microprocessor
with RF data communications and laser scanning into an ergonomically designed handheld device. The handled Falcon 4420 is designed for
scan-intensive applications while the non-handled Falcon 4410 is designed to fit comfortably in the user's hand. Both devices feature a large
1/4 VGA touch-screen display and built-in 26-key alpha/numeric keypad to ensure that data can be easily entered in any environment.
- Intel® XScale™ PXA250
- Microsoft® Windows CE .Net
- Standard, Long Range, Advanced Long Range
- Integrated Laser Scanner Options
- Industry Leading Beeper Volume - exceeding 90dB
- Supports leading wireless LANs, including Cisco Aironet,
Lucent (Agere) Orinoco
- Industrial, high-strength polycarbonate/ABS-blend
- 320 x 240 pixel display
iPAQ rugged case - Do you already own an iPAQ Pocket PC? Consider rugeddizing it with a rugged case.
Accommodates most current devices including the iPAQ Pocket PC H3800, H3700, H3600 and H3100 Series and
allows the use of many PC, CompactFlash and SD cards while in the case. The Rugged Case for the Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC is designed and tested to resist display damage, dust and water contamination, and damage caused by dropping the iPAQ Pocket PC from a height of up to four feet.
List price is roughly $124. See www.compaq.com/products/
Something else you might consider to help protect your PDA in rugged environments is
a neoprene case. See http://www.marware.com/
For more info on rugged PDAs and PC's we suggest you check out handheldcomputing.
They've compiled an excellent collection of pointers to a number of rugged devices.
Field Force Automation magazine
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