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An ultra mobile PC fit for Rambo

Sep 26, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

Black Diamond Advanced Technology has unveiled what it calls the world's first rugged UMPC (ultra-mobile PC). The SwitchBack offers functional features similar to those of consumer UMPCs, but is designed to meet the environmental and expansion requirements of applications in field service, warehousing, and the military, according to… the company.

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The Switchback is housed in a magnesium case reinforced with rubber isolators and shock-mounted electronics, and provides “patent-pending” modular expansion (described below), according to Black Diamond. The company says the unit meets or exceeds military specifications for shock, vibration, humidity, and extreme temperatures.


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Black Diamond lists the following key features and specifications for the SwitchBack PC:

  • Processor — 1 GHz Celeron M
  • Memory — 1 GB 400 MHz DDR2 RAM
  • Display:
    • 5.6-inch sunlight readable LCD with touchscreen
    • 1024 x 600 WSVGA resolution
    • Intel GMA-900 graphics chipset
  • Storage — 40 GB removable hard disk (60 GB optional)
  • Built-in I/O ports — USB 2.0
  • Docking station I/O ports:
    • 10/100 Ethernet
    • multi USB 2.0
    • VGA out
  • Expansion — attachable rear modules (see below)
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11b/g
    • Bluetooth 2.0
    • GPS — optional
  • Dimensions — 7.5 x 5.5 x 2 inches (191 x 140 x 51 mm)
  • Weight — 3 lbs
  • Power — 9 to 28 VDC, how-swappable Li-Ion battery

Expansion modules

Rear module
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Perhaps the most intriguing feature of the Switchback is its unusual expansion capability based on modules that attach to the rear of the device. These customizing modules — which can extend the SwitchBack with additional electronics, peripherals, or connector interfaces — should allow companies to adapt the device to a wide range of application-specific requirements.

Expected expansion modules, according to Black Diamond, include: additional processors, hard drives, batteries, fingerprint readers, RFID, barcode scanner, mag stripe reader, radios, digital cameras, GPS receivers, breathalyzers, and laser range finders.

Availability

The Switchback will ship in Q4 if this year with Windows XP support, according to Black Diamond. Support for Windows CE, Windows Mobile, and Linux will follow. Additionally, the company plans to support multiple operating systems simultaneously on the device — presumably by adding virtualization software — by Q2 next year.

Pricing information was not disclosed, but can be expected to be consistent with other high-end ruggedized devices — i.e. substantially higher than typical consumer UMPCs (think factors of three to five).


 
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