I just heard that the folks at DAP Technologies have introduced the first of their rugged M9000-series tablet computers – the M9010. This little scamp comes equipped with what DAP Technologies describe as “breakthrough communications options,” which include Wireless USB and integrated ZigBee wireless technology. The M9010 is also the first computer with the new Intel E660T industrial processor and includes Qualcomm's latest Gobi 3000 module.
With this latest release, DAP improves on its previous tablet offerings with advanced communications options that ensure wireless network connectivity, simplify data transfer, and connect to multiple peripherals without wires. Additional upgrades include the truly industrial processor and the 7-inch, sunlight-viewable touch screen display that's now 50 percent brighter and automatically switches from landscape to portrait views, based on how the user holds the tablet.
"Despite all the hype surrounding consumer tablets, they're neither meeting nor anticipating the needs of industrial and field applications," said Khalid Kidari, director of product management and marketing. "DAP's M9000 tablet is the go-anywhere solution for companies that need reliable mobile communication throughout their supply chain and want to future-proof their technology purchase with advanced communications options, modularity and ruggedness not available on any other tablet."
Editor’s Note: Khalid’s quote above refers to the “M9000 tablet,” but it should really refer to the “M9000 series of tablets,” of which the M9010 is the first.
Actually, before we proceed, I have to tell you that the older I get, the more dubious I am when I hear terms like “rugged” used in the context of electronics product. My knee-jerk reaction is to say to myself: “What does ‘rugged’ actually mean?”
Well, by some strange quirk of fate, the guys and gals at DAP Technologies have written a very interesting whitepaper that is very informative about this topic. Consider the following excerpt, for example (Click Here
to see the full paper):
Unlike consumer- and commercial-grade products, tablets designed for hazardous or harsh environments must conform to rigorous industry and military standards. Two of the most important are the International Electrotechnical Commission’s Ingress Protection (IP) rating system and the U.S.Department of Defense “Test Method Standard for Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests,” known as MIL-STD-810.
IP ratings are assigned using a two-digit IP code that indicates the degree to which an enclosure prevents the intrusion of solids and liquids. The first digit indicates the level of protection against the ingress of solid foreign objects, and the second digit indicates protection against the harmful ingress of water. The protection from solids rating ranges from 0 (no protection) to 6 (completely prevents the incursion of dust).The protection from liquids rating ranges from 0 (no protection) to 8 (protected against long periods of immersion under pressure).
According to industry analyst VDC Research Group, only systems that achieve an IP54 rating or better can be considered “fully rugged.” Such systems provide – at minimum – sufficient protection against dust to maintain satisfactory performance. They are also fully insulated from water that splashes against the enclosure from any direction.
The minimum requirement for computers operating in most industrial environments is IP65, which protects against both dust and water. The “6” means it is dust-proof; there is no ingress of dust. And the “5” means water projected by a nozzle against any of the computer’s enclosures from any direction will have no harmful effects.
DAP’s rugged computers have consistently achieved among the highest IP ratings in the industry. DAP’s M8930 and M8940 tablets have attained an impressive IP67, indicating that they completely prevent the ingress of dust and liquid from entering the enclosures when the tablets are fully immersed in up to one meter (39 inches) of water. VDC ranks systems that exceed the IP64 rating – such as DAP’s new tablets – as “ultra-rugged,” the most demanding of all device categories.
This white paper then continues to talk about the MIL-STD-810, rugged tablet market drivers, and so on and so forth. I found all of this to be jolly interesting and this is a paper I will certainly bookmark for future reference. But we digress…
In addition to standard communications options like WLAN, Bluetooth and WWAN, DAP's M9000 tablet incorporates market-changing communications technologies including:
- Gobi 3000, which allows users to roam on virtually any carrier network.
- Integrated ZigBee wireless technology, a low-power sensor technology gaining prominence in everything from smart-grid power management to home and building automation.
- Wireless USB, which allows for the connection of multiple peripherals and the wireless transmission of data at speeds similar to a wired connection.
As the world's first processor created for the specific needs of industrial users, Intel's E660T improves graphic performance by 50 percent and PCIe speeds by 15 percent, all while permitting operation at extreme temperatures and consuming 15 percent less power. This helps contribute to the M9000's superior power management, which allows the tablet to work a full 8-hour shift.
"DAP's new M9000 uses advanced communications technology and rugged design to bridge the gap between the specific requirements of industrial users and the general usefulness of consumer tablets,"
said Eric Miller, vice president. "It is technology that companies in warehouse, distribution, field services and other industrial markets can put to work right now to lower operating costs and increase efficiencies."
Users can choose Windows Embedded 7 and Windows CE 6.0 for seamless migration into most enterprise environments. The tablet features 1 GB DDR2 RAM and a 16 GB solid-state drive.
Among the most rugged tablets on the market, the M9000 is IP67 and meets MIL STD 810F requirements for protection against dust, immersion in water and multiple 4-foot (1.2 meter) drops to concrete. It operates in temperatures between -4 and 122 F (-20 and 50 C).