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Android leaps to rugged handheld, and more phones

May 26, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

SDG Systems is shipping a version of its ruggedized Trimble Nomad PDA that runs Android 1.5. In other Android news, photos of an Android-based, AT&T-destined HTC “Lancaster” smartphone have appeared on the web, and another report says that China Mobile will soon sell HTC's Magic phone.

(Click for larger view of Nomad-Android Developer Version)

The Nomad is manufactured by Tripod Data Systems (TDS) for Windows Mobile, but starting a year ago, SDG arranged to port Linux to the rugged, “military-grade” PDA. It resells the system as the Trimble Nomad, offering it with Angstrom Linux and Qtopia PDA Edition pre-installed, and bundling a toolsuite and build environment based on OpenEmbedded.

Now SDG is offering a version of the device that incorporates the newly released Android 1.5 (“Cupcake”), and exploits new features of the Google-sponsored, Linux-based stack, including the on-screen keyboard. Aimed at developers, the Nomad-Android system is designed to implement and test Android 1.5 commercial applications.

SDG's version of Android supports ADB (Android Debug Bridge), GPS, 802.11b/g WiFi, bar code scanning, touchscreen, backlight, and key entry, says the company. Support for the camera, Bluetooth, and unlocked GSM (quad-band with EDGE data capability) is expected soon.

Nomad as barcoding device

With or without Android, the Nomad (pictured) is equipped with an 806MHz Marvell PXA320 processor, 128MB of RAM, 2GB of flash memory, and a backlit, 640 x 480 portrait VGA touchscreen, says SDG. Other standard features are said to include Bluetooth, a USB port, CompactFlash and SD slots, a serial port, and a speaker and microphone. Options include 802.11b/g WiFi, a GSM/EDGE cellular radio, a SiRFStar III GPS radio, a laser 1D barcode scanner, and a two-megapixel digital camera. The battery lasts up to 15 hours under normal use, but has lasted as long as 25, says SDG.

The Nomad maintains compliance with the MIL-STD-810F standard for drops, vibration, and temperature extremes, says SDG, and is IP67 rated for imperviousness to water and dust. It can withstand 30 minutes exposure under a meter of water, claims the company, as well as survive temperatures ranging from -22 to 144 degrees F.

Stated Todd Blumer, President of SDG Systems, “SDG has worldwide deployments of Linux running on the Trimble Nomad, and the Google Android platform is a natural extension of our existing Linux implementations.”

More Android phones

HTC “Lancaster”:
(Source: Engadget)

While Android stretches out into PDAs and netbooks, smartphones continue to be where the main action is for the Google-backed open source platform. Today, photos of a new HTC phone destined for the network of AT&T (where the iPhone is king) have surfaced on Engadget. The “Lancaster” phone (pictured at right), could ship in early August, according to the report. It appears at first glance to mimic HTC's second Android phone, the Vodafone-targeted HTC Magic (pictured below, right), but like the original T-Mobile-sold HTC G1, it offers a QWERTY keyboard.

This time, however, HTC appears to have traded in the G1's unusual Inspector Gadget-like fold-out keyboard for a sleeker, more traditional slider. The HSPA-ready triband phone offers AGPS, a 3-megapixel fixed-focus camera, Bluetooth 2.0, and micro-SD expansion, says the story.

HTC Magic
(Click for details)

According to a Wall Street Journal story, meanwhile, the aforementioned Magic phone (pictured), which is being deployed by Vodafone in Europe this Spring, will start being sold next month in China by China Mobile, with some modifications to its Android user interface. The news was attributed to remarks from HTC CEO Peter Chou, who reportedly said that the modified Magic phones will be called “OPhones” and will compete with Apple's iPhone, which is expected to be offered by the rival China Unicom network by the end of the year. China Mobile is said to be the world's largest wireless carrier, with more than 500 million subscribers.


The Nomad-Android development system is available now, says SDG Systems. Through July 31, the product is available to qualifying developers at a 25 percent discount for up to two units per organization. These discounted prices are said to be $1,274 for the Nomad 800B, ranging up to $2,249 for the option-packed Nomad 800XE.

The Engadget story on HTC's Lancaster phone should be here. The Wall Street Journal story on HTC's China-bound OPhone should be here.

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