Amrel ROCKY Patriot DA5-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, the ROCKY Patriot DA4-M Rugged PDA. The DA4 was then technologically upgraded and became the DA5-M described here.
The DA-5 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 intnded application, the DA-5 runs Windows CE.Net 5.0 or Windows Mobile 5.0 platform on a speedy 624MHz version of Marvel's PXA270 application processor. There are 128MB of RAM, 128MB 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 DA-5's case is made of magnesium, protected with rubber bumpers, and 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.
Expansion is available via PC, CF or SDIO cards: WiFi, GSM/GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth,
and GPS. 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 DA5-M, despite its small size, has a transflective "Alpha-Star" 4-inch display with full 480 x 640 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.