Itronix 'Semi-Rugged' Tablet Takes Aim at Apple iPad in Harsh Environments
General Dynamics Itronix has unveiled its GD3015 tablet PC, a semi-rugged computer that hits the middle point between consumer tablets and heavier fully ruggedized notebooks.
Itronix is the rugged mobile technology division of General Dynamics, a manufacturer of aircraft, ships, military armament and IT equipment for the government and military.
The GD3015 tablet is geared toward first responders in ambulances, maintenance workers in hospitals and other facilities, utility workers that read meters and police officers that scan drivers' licenses using RFID wireless connectivity. Itronix introduced the model on June 30, and it is available as of July 2011.
Semi-rugged models like the GD3015 may have a larger market than fully rugged models like the recently released GD8200 notebook, Doug Petteway, vice president of marketing for rugged computing solutions at General Dynamics Itronix, told eWEEK.
"We see growth in the semi-rugged market a little faster than the fully rugged in the tablet community," he said, noting the lighter weight of the semi-rugged unit and a price that's cheaper than a fully rugged system.
At the same time, evaluation projects that Itronix is conducting with an Apple iPad will be transitioned into semi-rugged and rugged tablets due to the iPad's lack of durability for industrial environments.
"We do have a lot of commercial trials around the iPad," he said. "Consumer grade [tablets] are not meeting the needs of business customers."
Unlike the consumer-grade iPad, the GD3015 runs a full version of Windows, features a removable hard drive and offers data protection, Petteway noted.
The GD3015's size also falls in between an ordinary smartphone and a full-size rugged notebook, Petteway said. The 2.6-pound GD3015 features a 10.4-inch touch-screen that's viewable in sunlight. It runs Windows 7 Professional and comes with either 64GB or 160GB solid state hard drives.
Unlike the iPad, the GD3015's sunlight readability feature is something that outdoor industrial workers, emergency first responders, transportation and utility workers would require, he said. Furthermore, you can install applications easier without iTunes, he noted.
"Part of the concern is the durability of the iPad," Petteway said. "Launching applications requires you to go to the iTunes environment to load. You can't load your individual applications on to the system."
"The GD3015 pairs ruggedness with a Windows-based operating system so budget-constrained IT managers have a computing solution that is easy to deploy, minimizes training costs for users and leverages existing software and operating system configurations," Mark Johnston, director of strategic computing solutions for General Dynamics Itronix, said in a statement.
The GD3015 incorporates GPS to map terrain and various locations and locate products. It also supports data collection.
AT&T provides 3G wireless connectivity to GD3015 users. The 3G and wireless LAN connectivity allow EMT technicians to enter and send vital health readings such as temperature and blood pressure ahead to a doctor or hospital for evaluation, Petteway said.
RFID in the $2,400 GD3015 allows workers to scan information about products in warehouses and at loading docks along with a magnetic stripe reader to scan IDs or payment cards.
The unit can survive shock, vibration, rain, sand, water and dust but lacks the fully rugged features of the GD8200 notebook. That model can withstand gunfire shock, loud jet noise and harsher environments, Petteway said.
Still, the GD3015 comes with removable bumpers on its sides for additional shock protection. It can survive drops of 3 feet, like from the back of a pickup truck, he said.