Amrel ROCKY Patriot DA4-M Rugged PDA|
A PDA designed for military use
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
For many years we knew Amrel of El Monte, Calif. primarily as a maker for heavily ruggedized
notebook computers that we pitted against the competition from the likes of
Itronix, Panasonic, etc. Realizing, however, that there's an important niche
for rugged handhelds, Amrel created its own ruggedized PDA and gave it an
impositng name: the ROCKY Patriot DA4-M Rugged PDA. This is a device
designed specifically for the needs of today's military and meant to be used
for reconnaissance, tactical maneuvers, searching for enemy positions and so
on. Despite the demands of its intended use, Amrel managed to keep its
rugged PDA small and handy: 3.5 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches, and weighing 16 ounces.
It runs CE .Net or the Pocket PC OS platform on a 400MHz Intel PXA255. There
are 128MB of rAM, 64MB of Flash, USB host and client, a serial port, SDIO
and PC Card expansion, and a 7.4V/1,800mAH Li-Ion battery. The case is made
of magnesium and heavily sealed to IP54 specifications. IP67, which means
dust-proof and submersible in 3.3 feet of water, is available optionally.
The usual variety of expansions cards are available: WiFi, GPRS, Bluetooth,
GPS, and also a digital compass. There is also a cradle with 3 USB ports.
Most interestingly, perhaps, is that Amrel realized the importance of a
screen large enough to actually see something on: the DA4-M, despite its
small size, has a transflective "Alpha-Star" 4-inch display with full 480 x 640
reoslution (240 x 320 available as well, of course). Amrel points out that
the DA4-M is the first PDA to include MIL-STD 461 electromagnetic shielding
as a standard feature, making the device impervious to interference by
magnetic fields, radio freqencies, and other disruptive emissions.