Amrel DA5+ Rugged PDA|
A PDA designed for military or industrial 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, Getac, etc.
Realizing, however, that there's an important niche
for rugged handhelds, Amrel added its own ruggedized PDA, the ROCKY Patriot DA4-M Rugged PDA. The DA4 was then technologically upgraded and became the DA5-M, and now the DA5+ described here.
As is Amrel's custom with most of its computers, the DA5+ comes in both a military and an industrial version. The military model, shown on the left, 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. It measures 3.5 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches, and weighs about a pound.
Depending on the deployment and application, the DA5+ runs Windows CE 5.0 or Windows Mobile 6.1 platform on the quick 624MHz version of Marvell's PXA270 application processor. There are 128MB of RAM, a full GB of Flash, a standard USB host port and a client mini-USB port, a DB9 serial port for legacy peripherals, SDIO and PC Card expansion, and a powerful and hot-swappable 3.7V/3,900mAH Li-Ion battery.
The DA5+ case is made of magnesium, protected with rubber bumpers, and, in its military version, heavily sealed to IP65 specifications. IP65 means the device is dust-proof and immune to water jets from all directions. The computer is also certified to having passed a variety of MIL-STD 810F tests for operation at altitude, high/low temperature, humidity, salt fog, vibration, shock, and under explosive atmospheric conditions, and it comes with a military power connector. The silver and black industrial version, named DA5+I, has IP54 sealing, but is otherwise identical in most specs.
Expansion is available via PC, CF or SDIO cards: WiFi, GSM/GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth, and GPS. There is also a cradle with three USB ports. Most interestingly, perhaps, is that Amrel realized the importance of a screen large enough to actually see something on: the DA5+, despite its small size, has a transflective 4-inch display with full 480 x 640 VGA resolution.
Important in many military and some industrial applications, the DA5+M includes MIL-STD 461E standard electromagnetic shielding, making the device impervious to interference by magnetic fields, radio freqencies, and other disruptive emissions.