September 2006

Black Diamond launches first rugged UMPC
On September 26, at the Embedded Systems Conference, Black Diamond Advanced Technologylaunched the Switchback PC, the world's first rugged UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC). The company describes the 7.5 x 5.5 x 2 inch device as the next generation of rugged computing systems, sort of a "Toughbook that fits into pant pockets." While the Switchback PC follows the general Microsoft "Origami" UMPC platform, it clearly addresses an entirely different market. An integrated hardware keyboard makes data entry easier, the device uses a modular backend (hence the name "Switchback") to provide customized capabilities for different clients, and IP67 sealing and a 6-foot drop spec show that this is a computer for serious jobs. But there is more: Black Diamond plans on releasing the Switchbaack with not only a 1 GHz Celeron M processor to run Windows XP, the UMPC version, or even Linux, but also a secondary processor on its own board that runs Windows Mobile, similar to what DualCor had planned for its dual-platform device. Our take: We've felt from the start that the UMPC platform was uniquely suited for rugged applications and have been waiting for such an implementation. If Black Diamond can deliver on its ambitious plans, this may well set a new trend in rugged mobile computing. -- Posted Friday, September 29, 2006 by chb

Another look at the Toshiba M400 tablet convertible
Our intrepid contributor Tim Hillebrand takes another look at Toshiba's remarkable Portege M400, and likes it a lot. Read his full report on the M400. -- Posted Thursday, September 28, 2006 by chb

Full review of the Hammerhead Xtreme
RuggedPCReview presents a full analysis of the DRS Tactical/WalkAbout Hammerhead Xtreme. This is the 8th generation of one of the rugged computing industry's most respected designs, now with updated technology and running the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005. The Hammerhead started life well over a decade ago as a tablet milled from a solid block of metal. It still is. What has changed since then, and is the Hammerhead still at the forefront of rugged machinery for computing in extreme environments? -- Posted Tuesday, September 26, 2006 by chb

HP: It's a mad, mad, mad world
As technologists and gadget enthusiasts, the politics that drive the high tech industry can sure be infuriating. I mean, once we had Digital Equipment Corporation, nipping at the heels of mighty IBM. Well, they collapsed and were bought by then mighty Compaq, makers of the best Pocket PC ever, the iPAQ, and prior to that by the incredible Compaq Concerto pen convertible. So then Compaq decides to commit corporate suicide by selling itself to HP and live on only as a badge on low-cost PCs. HP first releases a flurry of iPAQs, then essentially abandons the line. Then the world is treated to the Carly Fiorina era, and now HP mostly makes headline for who spied on who and how, resulting in the ouster of its chairwoman, Patricia Dunn, and increasing heat on CEO and now chairman Mark Hurd. This is by no means an Enron, but, please, let's go back to making exciting technology! -- Posted Monday, September 25, 2006 by chb

Lower cost UMPC
Mobile computing company agopc today announced a new lower price for its 1GHz VIA C7M-equipped ago7 Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC). Available exclusively on its website,, the 512MB RAM/40GB HDD ago7 model is $799 plus shipping. "At agopc our mission is to broaden the UMPC's appeal," says President and CEO David Carroll. "At this price point, those new to the platform will find a high quality UMPC like ago7 very attractive." Mr. Carroll noted that ago7 now costs nearly $200 less than an identically configured model from their competition. -- Posted Thursday, September 21, 2006 by chb

Asus to launch their R2H UMPC
According to, Asustek Computer will announce the launch of its R2H Ultra-Mobile PC (UMPC), which was unveiled on August 25, in Taiwan on September 18, according to company sources. The seven-inch ultra compact R2H has a built-in webcam, megapixel digital camera and integrates global positioning system (GPS) and biometric fingerprint authentication, as well as wireless connectivities including Bluetooth 2.0 EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) and WLAN 802.11a/b/g. [see Asus release] -- Posted Wednesday, September 13, 2006 by chb

VIA chipset to result in more efficient UMPCs?
According to Digitimes, the Chinese-language Commercial Times reports VIA has begun volume shipments of its VIA C7-M/VX700 combo, to be used in an upcoming Q1P version of Samsung's UMPC that is currently using a 900MHz Celeron. A VIA-based solution could be less expensive and more power-efficient, something the UMPC platform could greatly benefit from. -- Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006 by chb

Canadian school settles on Lenovo Tablet PCs
An independent school in Oakville, Ont., has signed a two-year agreement with Lenovo Canada to supply students, administrators and faculty with tablet PCs. The $2-million deal will provide 880 Lenovo ThinkPad X41 tablets to Appleby College, which offers schooling for Grade 7 through 12. After about eight years of using laptops, Appleby College wanted to maximize its use of portable technology and move to a more efficient form factor, said Mike Hourahine, executive director of IT for the school. [see release] -- Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2006 by chb