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Motion Computing unveils rugged tablet PC

Geared for government and manufacturing, the F5 works in hostile environments

March 3, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Motion Computing Inc. today is set to unveil a commercial-grade, rugged tablet PC for workers who aren't always inside an office.

The new Intel Centrino-based F5 tablet PC runs Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. The F5 has a magnesium frame to keep it safe and operational in the field, a View Anywhere outdoor display and a shock-mounted hard drive. Motion Computing noted that the system is designed to withstand exposure to dust and moisture, and it includes vehicular docking capabilities.

The 3-pound tablet product is designed for mobile workforces in several industries, such as field service, manufacturing, government and construction.

A tablet PC is a low-weight portable computer that also is light on power consumption. It generally comes in a size between that of a handheld device and that of a laptop.

"For the kind of applications they're talking about -- construction, manufacturing -- making the tablet PC tougher is very important," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "Tablets can be very useful because they're highly portable. But often the environments where they can be of the most use are extremely hostile to fragile electronics. Dirty and dusty factory floors, outdoor construction projects, places with temperature extremes, rain, high humidity -- they're all hard on devices. Plus, these things get dropped, thrown into pickups and generally banged around. They need to be fairly tough."

Olds added that customers who need computers that can withstand a harsh environment must pay a premium for tablet PCs that can last longer and take more punishment than traditional models. The F5, which is available now, ranges in price from $2,699 to $4,000.

Motion Computing today is also announcing a new standard three-year "field-ready" warranty with the F5. The warranty covers damage from short drops -- generally 30 inches or less -- along with exposure to rain and dust.

"We've combined the mobility and ease-of-use benefits of a tablet PC with the increased durability of a rugged PC, without the costs associated with a fully rugged system," said Scott Eckert, CEO of Motion Computing, in a statement.

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