January 2012

Added: Bluebird Pidion mobile computers

RuggedPCReview.com has added the complete lineup of Bluebird's Pidion rugged and semi-rugged mobile computers. These include the BIP-5000 and BIP-6000 enterprise handhelds, the flashlight-style BIP-7000 industrial handheld, and the BM-170 enterprise PDA/smartphone. All are based on the 806MHz Marvel PXA320 processor and run either versions of Windows CE or Windows Mobile, with the BIP-6000 and BM-170 also announced as capable of running Android.
-- Posted Tuesday, January 31, 2012 by chb

Apple posts record results
Apple's Q4 2011 financials may well go down in history. Apple's stock is at US$450 (as of January 25, 2012), Apple's market value is US$420 billion, highest in the world. Q4 2011 revenue was at US$46.3 billion, with a record profit of US$13.06 billion. Apple sold 37 million iPhones, up 128% from a year ago. Apple also sold 15.4 million iPads, up 111%, and Mac sales also rose 26% to 5.2 million units. On top, Apple has no debts and almost US$98 billion in cash. -- Posted Wednesday, January 25, 2012 by chb

Full review: Winmate G570Z 5.7-inch rugged handheld device
The Winmate G570Z may look like a large PDA, but it's actually a small Windows tablet. With a very bright 5.7-inch resistive touch screen and running embedded Windows XP on an Intel Atom Z510 processor, the 8 x 4.7 inch G570 weighs around two pounds, considerably less than larger rugged tablets. The device is highly configurable (1D/2D scanner, RFID, 3.5G WWAN), runs a full shift on dual batteries, and with a 4-foot drop spec and IP65 sealing can be deployed almost anywhere. [See review of the Winmate G570Z rugged tablet] -- Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2012 by chb

Intermec: new processor and Gobi 3000 for 70 Series rugged handhelds
Intermec announced two enhancements to its 70 Series of rugged handhelds. The first is a switch from the 600MHz TI OMAP 3530 processor, an older 65nm design, to a 1GHz TI Sitara 3715 chip, a newer 45nm design that is fully OMAP architecture compatible. While still using an ARM Cortex A8 core and a POWERVR SGX Graphics Accelerator, the 3715's faster clock speed, up to 2X graphics performance, and lower power consumption mean a considerable step up in performance. The second is that three of the four 70 Series models -- the CN70, CN70e, and CK70 -- can now be ordered with what Intermec calls its "Flexible Network radio" module based on Qualcomm's Gobi 3000 technology and usable on both CDMA and UMTS wireless networks, enabling automatic and seamless "in route" switching between different carrier networks. [See Intermec press release] -- Posted Monday, January 23, 2012 by chb

NDP DisplaySearch: Wide viewing angle LCDs on the move
We've been preaching the virtues of wide viewing angle displays for many years and marveled at the fantastic viewing experiences on Hydis and other IPS (in-plane switching) and FFS (fringe-field switching) displays (HP used Hydis displays already in their 2003/2004 TC1100 Tablet PC). Well, according to NDP DisplaySearch, with the increasing use of tablet PCs and smart phones to view and share video, wide viewing angle performance is finally becoming a requirement in TFT LCDs. In our opinion, wide viewing angle displays are so much better as to make them virtually mandatory on most mobile computing devices. [See NDP DisplaySearch release on wide viewing angle LCD technologies] -- Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012 by chb

Modular Psion XT15: tougher, faster, more versatile
A while ago Psion began making its rugged handhelds modular so that users could configure them exactly as they liked. The company now introduced their new Omnii XT15 rugged handheld that's not only faster, tougher and more modern, but also offers more display, communication, scanning and general configuration modules and options than ever before. [See description and specs of the Psion Omnii XT15 -- Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 by chb

DT Research's 430 POS handheld updated
DT Research announced that their DT430 POS handheld was updated to improve overall performance with a new ARM 11 core processor running at 800MHz, more RAM (512MB instead of 128), and 4GB flash instead of the original 128MB. 802.11a/b/g/n support provides faster network connection as well as support for Cisco CCX 4.0 for enterprise applications. A more powerful barcode scanner has a faster scan rate, better motion tolerance, and higher optical resolution -- Posted Monday, January 16, 2012 by chb

Sony SmartWatch
Sony's latest attempts to get back into the game include the SmartWatch, an iPod Nano-sized Android-based OLED touch screen watch with iPhone 4 styling, app icons and all. Texts and social network status is available via Bluetooth from the wearer's (SonyEricsson) smartphone, style comes via different color rubber wristbands, and there are theoretically no limits as to what can be run on the watch. Expected to be available this spring for around US$149. [See Sony SmartWatch] -- Posted Saturday, January 14, 2012 by chb

Review: Acer Iconia Tab A500
Contributing editor Dan Rasmus felt it was a little strange to be writing a review of a shipping tablet just as CES 2012 is over. But unlike much of the gear touted in blogs, endless television coverage and various radio shows, the Acer Iconia Tab A500 is shipping, and at a reasonable price. [See Dan Rasmus' review of the Acer Iconia Tab A500] -- Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 by chb

3M introduces 3M SmartPen
Capacitive touch screens have taken the world by storm, but unless they are combined with some sort of active pen technology, they rely on finger input, and that may not always be enough. You can buy pens, but none that we have tried work very well. Well, 3M Touch Systems has now introduced the 3M Smart Pen that's supposed to provide the accuracy other capacitive pens are lacking. [See 3M Smart Pen] -- Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 by chb

Aceeca shipping RFID handheld evaluation units
In Aceeca's latest newsletter, the New Zealand-based company says that RFID continues to gain momentum as RFID improves and prices decrease, with some tags now available for less than 10 cents. As a result, Aceeca is now shipping evaluation units of their first IP67-sealed Windows CE OR Palm OS Garnet based handheld. -- Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 by chb

Staples media tablet stats
Staples, from a variety of statistical sources, compiled the following tablet statistics: The average tablet user spends 90 minutes per day on their tablet. 88% use their tablet on the road. 54% of tablet users are 34 or older. The most common tablet display size is 10 inches. The average tablet user spends US$34 on apps. 80% of tablet users say tablets have improved their work/life balance. [See Staples tablet stats summary] -- Posted Thursday, January 12, 2012 by chb

Trend seen at 2012 CES: Gigabit WiFi
Every CES has its number of major trends, and his year one of them is gigabit WiFi. Over the years we've seen a progression from 802.11b to 802.11g to 802.11n, with most organizations and individuals now using a mix of those standards, with the slowest link often determining overall network speed. That wasn't a major problem in the past, but by now even 802.11n is not really equipped to handle the emerging infrastructure of streaming video and connectivity. The answer is the 802.11ac standard that promises real world gigabit WiFi. At CES, companies such as Trendnet (see release), Buffalo (see release), Broadcom (see release), NetGear (see tech primer), D-Link (see release), etc., are all showing 802.11ac products. -- Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2012 by chb

Synaptics announces single ASIC large touchscreen ClearPad solution for tablets
Synaptics announced the latest addition to its single ASIC ClearPad Series 7 touchscreen family, the single ASIC ClearPad 7300 solution. Supporting up to 12-inch touchscreens with tracking of 10 or more fingers, the ClearPad 7300 is designed for the tablet market. [See ClearPad Series 7 Product Brief (PDF)] -- Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2012 by chb

RIM previews BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 at CES
RIM is previewing the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 at CES in Las Vegas. The software upgrade, which will be available for free download to all BlackBerry Playbook users in February, includes a large number of enhancements to make the OS more integrated and connected. [See RIM press release] -- Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2012 by chb

Atmel announces next-gen maXTouch S Series
Touch technology specialist Atmel Corporation announced the availability of its new maXTouch S Series family of touchscreen controllers, the next gen of their unlimited touch plus stylus technology with systems supporting touch screens from 3.5 inches all the way to 17 inches. The S Series facilitates thinner and lighter devices without sacrificing responsiveness, touch fidelity or battery life. [See maXTouch S Series YouTube video and white paper] -- Posted Monday, January 9, 2012 by chb

TI to demo Windows 8 on OMAP 4 platform at C ES
Texas Instruments will be showing an OMAP4470 processor-based tablet running on a pre-release version of Windows 8 at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, demonstrating how the latest OMAP 4 platform supports Microsoft's upcoming next version of its operating system. [See TI press release] -- Posted Monday, January 9, 2012 by chb

DTResearch DT410/415: no-nonsense POS handhelds
We have added product pages on the DT410 and DT415 handhelds by DTResearch. DTResearch designed them as point-of-sale/point-of-service handheld terminals weighing about ten ounces. Both models run either Windows CE or Windows Mobile on a 533MHz Samsung processor and 3.5-inch resistive touch screen. Both are rugged enough for POS jobs and both have an integrated magnetic stripe reader. The DT415 adds a 1D/2D imager. [Read description and specs of the DTResearch DT410 and DT415] -- Posted Friday, January 6, 2012 by chb

Ambarella announces wireless streaming technology for HD cameras
Those crafty folks at Ambarella, the company that brought the world the video compression technology that makes inexpensive high-definition cameras possible, now introduced the Ambarella Wireless Camera Developer's Kit. The kit, in essence, makes it possible to stream video, via Atheros WiFi technology, from one of those tiny cameras (which sometimes don't have their own displays) to a smartphone. The smartphone can then also act as a remote control device for the camera, and it can be used to upload video to YouTube and similar video sharing sites. The kit will work with Ambarella's recently introduced A7 solution that can capture 1080p video at 60 frames per second (see A7 PDF). What all this means is that high definition cameras will take a big step closer to becoming fully internet-integrated devices. [See Ambarella press release] -- Posted Thursday, January 5, 2012 by chb

Growing influence of tablets
According to NPD DisplaySearch, the tablet category expanded its role in the mobile PC market, with shipments of 72.7 million units, accounting for 25.5% of mobile PC shipments in 2011. By 2017, notebook PC shipments are forecast to reach 432 million units, and tablet shipments are projected to reach 383.3 million units. DisplaySearch also projects that of the 432 million notebooks, ultrabooks, with their sleek design and convenience like instant-on and long battery life, will contribute about 40%. -- Posted Thursday, January 5, 2012 by chb

Neonode announces single chip optical touch controller
Neonode is the company that offered touch and swipe-controlled smartphones years before Apple, but simply was ahead of its time (see our review of the Neonode N2) and the phones are long gone. Neonode, however, marched on as a provider and licensor of its innovative optical touch technology that uses an infrared grid to detect the position of the finger or pen. Now they announced what they claim is the world's first ultra-low power single-chip optical touch controller, developed in conjunction with Texas Instruments. Suitable for handheld and small to midsize devices, Neonode's touch technology combines elements of resistive and capacitive digitizers, and the new single chip solution makes for a lower chip count and lower cost. The technology has some issues, but is attractive and usable enough to score a number of high-profile licensees. -- Posted Wednesday, January 4, 2012 by chb

Juniper System's Mesa fully secure via Apriva Authentication Suite
Juniper Systems announced that its Mesa Rugged Notepad has completed extensive testing and validation procedures to achieve full integration with the Apriva Authentication Suite that combines ISO 7816 based ID card reading via Bluetooth, lock-down without positive read, and AES 256 encryption of data transmitted outside the Mesa to deliver a secure access environment. [Read press release] -- Posted Wednesday, January 4, 2012 by chb