Panasonic unveils hand-held PC for extreme environments

Truck News

SECAUCUS, N.J. — A fully capable personal computer would be a handy piece of equipment for any mobile field worker, especially those who are limited to hand-held devices that offer a one-dimensional capability. While Panasonic Computer Solutions has tried to fulfill some of that need with its existing Toughbook series of mobile personal computers, a hand-held PC has not been available until now, according to the company.

Panasonic Computer Solutions Company has launched the Toughbook U1: what is considered to be the first ultra mobile PC (UMPC) with Windows XP and Vista operating systems, which officials say gives field workers remote access to unlimited software versatility.

“I think it will have a pretty big impact on the trucking industry overall,” says Bill Presler, the senior business development manager for Panasonic Computer Solutions. “This new device is combining the functionality of many (other handheld) products, into something that literally goes into the palm of your hand. Just to boil it down to its bare essence, in simplified terms: we are giving you Windows in the palm of your hand.”

The UMPC has been designed to thrive in an environment as diverse as construction sites, mining operations, oil and gas refineries, manufacturing facilities, railroad yards, and storage warehouses, according to Panasonic.

“The form and functionality is a direct result of more than two years of feedback we solicited from an array of government and commercial organizations seeking to address the needs of a broad range of mobile users,” says Kyp Walls, director of product management. “We’ve responded with a highly portable and durable device that offers completely integrated features such as LCD touch screen, solid state drive, as well as an optional fingerprint scanner for user authentication and 1D and 2D barcode readers, and 2MP digital camera for data capture. The U1 offers full-shift battery life, a daylight readable screen and seamless connectivity with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G mobile broadband internet connectivity all within an extremely rugged package for maximum reliability.”

Panasonic indicates that workers will now be able to connect to critical information and various applications on the job, thus improving organizational efficiency, increasing information accuracy, and enabling field-based decision-making. The U1 features a “thumb-friendly and backlit QWERTY” keyboard, that is intended to makes data input fast and easy. As well the new UMPC offers an all-weather design that allows for use in inclement weather; a “fanless” system that reduces noise, weight and “eliminates points of failure.”

The Panasonic Toughbook U1 UMPC will be available worldwide in August. In the US, the base U1 model is expected to be available at an estimated retail price of $2,499 from authorized Panasonic resellers and distributors.

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