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Unitech PA692A

Rugged Android-based handheld touch screen computer with numerous data communication and data capture options
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

Unitech launched the PA692A in April 2016. The company created it as an Android version of its popular Windows Embedded Handheld-based PA692 rugged handheld that was initially launched in 2011 and updated in 2014. Conceived as a rugged outside-the-four-walls device to assist mobile workforces in competitive business environments, the platform is equipped with a sharp sunlight-readable display and numerous data collection options and wireless communication options. The PA692A now offers an Android alternative to field-based workers in the same compact, durable and ergonomic form factor.

While Unitech could have simply used the hardware of the existing Windows Embedded Handheld-based PA692 for an Android port, the company employed the opportunity to upgrade the platform for its new Android product. So the PA692A is based on a 1.5GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor, the same processor used in the company's smartphone-style PA700. There's 1GB of RAM and 8GB of NAND Flash, and storage can be augmented via a microSDHC Card slot. The standard battery packs 8.14 watt-hours, but we suggest the optional 14.8 watt-hour extended battery.

The PA692A's 3.8-inch transflective display offers 480 x 800 pixel resolution — the same as the legacy Windows Embedded Handheld PA692. That doesn't sound like an awful lot, but it actually translates into 246 pixels per inch — a good deal sharper than the vaunted "retina" Apple iMac 5K. The PA692A also has a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with flash.

Unlike most Android devices, the PA692A has a physical keypad. It is a 26-key arrangement that includes numeric, directional, and a variety of assignable functions. A 44-key alphanumeric version is also available. The presence of physical keys can facilitate quicker data entry in many applications.

The device is suitable for many data collection tasks. Its 2D imager can handle all major 1D codes as well as 2D PDF417, Micro PDF417, Composite, RSS, TCL-39, Datamatrix, QR code, Micro QR code, Aztec, MaxiCode, and postal codes (US PostNet, US Planet, UK Postal, Australian Postal, Japan Postal, Dutch Postal). Also available is a 13.56MHz RFID reader with ISO15693, ISO14443A and ISO14443B tag support, as well as NFC. For location based services there is a u-blox 6 high-performance GPS chipset that also supports the European GALILEO satellite system.

On the wireless communication side, there's 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 BLE, as well 4G LTE WWAN for wide area cellular voice and data connections. And there are dual external antennas for best possible WWAN and WLAN wireless connectivity and performance.

For a conventionally styled keypad handheld, the PA692A is quite compact, measuring 2.9 x 7 x 1.6 inches, and it weighs 14 ounces with the standard battery. The design is ergonomic with emphasis on making it easy to hold and operate. A pistol grip is available.

As far as ruggedness goes, the Unitech PA692A delivers. 5-foot drop spec, IP65 sealing where the "6" means the device is fully dustproof, and the "5" that it can handle low pressure water jets from all directions. There's also a wide 14 to 122 degree Fahrenheit operating temperature range, and presumably a slew of other tests and certifications.

With the PA692A, Unitech adds an another product to its growing lineup of Android-based solutions. The situation here is that the rugged handheld industry remains mired in uncertainty as far as operating systems go. Legacy Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 operating system has continued to be the platform of choice for many vertical market and industrial handhelds years beyond its expected lifespan. That's because Microsoft never provided an attractive successor, though with the emergence of Windows 10 and its mobile variants, may be changing.

As a result, an increasing number of customers are using Android-based industrial handhelds, or are at least considering them. Which is where products such as the Unitech PA692A come in.

Unitech America is a subsidiary of Taiwanese automatic data collection specialist Unitech, founded in 1979. They are also one of the largest manufacturer of rugged PDAs.
missing image Specifications Unitech PA692A
Added/changed Added 04/2016
Form-factor Mobile computer
CPU Speed Texas Instruments OMAP 7770/1.5GHz
OS Android 4.3
Card slots 1 microSDHC (up to 32GB)
Display type Backlit transflective sunlight-readable TFT
Display size/res 3.8-inch/480 x 800 pixel, Gorilla Glass 3
Digitizer/pens Capacitive multi-touch
Keyboard/keys 26-key numeric or 44-key QWERTY and function keys
Navigation Touch, keys
Housing Impact-resistant plastic
Operating Temp 14° to 122°F (-10° to 50°C)
Sealing IP65
Shock 5-foot drop
Size (WxHxD) 2.9 x 7.0 x 1.6 inches (74 x 177 x 40 mm)
Weight 13.8 oz. with 2,200mAh battery
Power 3.7V 2,200mAH 8.14 watt-hour Li-Ion ("Up to 10 hrs."), optional 3.7V 4,000mAH 14.8 watt-hour Li-Ion
Interface USB 2.0 Host and Client, 5.0mp AF camera with flash, optional 1D bar code scanner or 2D imager, optional 13.56MHz RFID reader, audio
Wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 BLE, GPS (u-blox 6), 4G LTE WWAN
Starting at US$1,730 Inquire
Brochure PA692A brochure (PDF)
Web page PA692A web page