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DT Research DT590 Series

Powerful 21.5-inch medical-cart all-in-one Windows PC with 260 watt-hours (!) of battery power
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

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On August 15, 2016, DT Research announced their new DT590 Series of All-in-One medical-cart computers in an effort to address a long-standing problem and challenge faced by what the industry calls Computers on Wheels (COWs) and Workstations on Wheels (WOWs): the need of suitably powerful, big-screen workstations to be plugged in or run on expensive, proprietary batteries. The DT590 Series does not need to be plugged in. Like a Tesla, it runs all day on its own batteries. And its batteries are hot-swappable, readily available, easily replaceable.

There are, of course, tablets that doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals can take on their rounds and use in their work, but tablets may not be powerful enough for certain jobs, or have a large enough display. Or they may lack the connectivity required. That's where computers and workstations on wheels come in, desktop-class machines with displays larger than any laptop, lots of ports, and real keyboards. But they need to be plugged in. Which means searching for outlets, turning the system on and off when it needs to be moved, dealing with dead non-removable batteries, and potentially tripping over power cords.

The DT Research DT590 Series does away with all that. That's because it has three replaceable, rechargeable and readily available DR202 Li-Ion batteries, each of them as powerful as that in a full-size rugged laptop. Together, that's 260 watt-hours. That's easily enough to make it through an entire full shift without being plugged in, and conceivably even a full 24 hours. In fact, as long as we mentioned Tesla, the three batteries in a DT590 Series pack so much punch that you could use them move a 5,000 pound Tesla Model S for a full mile. And unlike the battery in a Tesla, the DT590's are hot-swappable, so users never run out of juice.

How do we know? We did power draw testing on a DT592 — that's the 21.5-inch version; they also come with 19 and 24-inch screens — equipped with the most powerful processor available for the Series, an Intel "Broadwell" Core i7-5500U. What we measured backs up DT Research's claim of "up to 16 hours of runtime."

DT Research DT592 Power Draws (awake, idle)
Backlight Lowest Room (40% brightness) Maximum
Watts Hours Watts Hours Watts Hours
Power Saver 9.6 watts 27.1 hrs 13.4 watts 19.4 hrs 18.9 watts 13.8 hrs
Balanced 9.6 watts 27.1 hrs 13.4 watts 19.4 hrs 19.0 watts 13.7 hrs
Max Perform. 10.5 watts 24.8 hrs 14.2 watts 18.3 hrs 19.5 watts 13.3 hrs

The draws we measured are with the system on and idling. In real world use, the system will split time between being used, sitting idle, and going into a sleep state, so "awake, idle" draw pretty accurately reflects actual battery draw. Do note that with large displays, screen brightness has a significant impact on battery life.

But hasn't anyone else thought of battery power on carts? Yes, but those are usually expensive proprietary batteries that are difficult to access and charge.

There's more to the DT590 Series than its phenomenal battery life, though. While even the best-equipped mobile tablet computers have limited wired connectivity, the DT590 Series has plenty. There are four USB 3.0 ports and two more of the 2.0 variety, four RS232 serial ports, separate audio in/out jacks, up to two megabit RJ45 LAN jacks, and HDMI 1.4a ports supporting external 4K/UHD video.

The image below shows the right side of the DT592. Here we have the two USB 2.0 ports, on/off, four function keys, and the optional Smart Card reader.

Display size obviously matters, which is why DT Research offers the DT590 Series in three sizes. The DT590 has a 1280 x 1024 display with 4:3 aspect ratio, the DT592 we tested has a 21.5-inch display with 1920 x 1080 pixel full HD resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio, the same as the larger DT594 that has a 23.6-inch screen. All are available with optional capacitive multi-touch.

The images below show the DT590 Series in use. Particularly interesting is the middle picture that shows how a DT590 can be used with two external 4k (3840 x 2160 pixel) monitors for super-detailed work and analysis.

While many DT590 medical-cart systems will primarily be used for relatively routine tasks such as direct entry of patient care data into eMRs, data retrieval, medication dispensing, and collaborative work, some will run sophisticated medical imaging or otherwise specialized systems that require a lot of horsepower. Can the DT590 Series deliver that sort of performance?

The answer is yes. DT Research offers all three sizes of the DT590 with either a 1.5GHz Intel Celeron (probably the 3205U), an unspecified Intel 5th generation Core i3-50xxU, or the Core i7-5500U in our review unit. The i7-5500U is what's called an ultra-low voltage processor, designed to bring high performance as well as efficiency to battery-powered devices. The TDP (thermal design power) of the i7-5500U is just 15 watts, compared to "standard voltage" desktop processors with TDPs of 65 watts or more.

The i7-5500U provides the kind of performance you'd get from a high-end rugged tablet or notebook. Not quite as much as what you'd get from a desktop, but close. And thanks to the sophisticated power management of ultra-low voltage chips, DT Research could create the DT590 Series without needing a fan. That's big, as fans can be a concern in healthcare settings due to noise, air movement, potential failure and dust accumulations. That said, DT590 Series All-in-Ones are not sealed units; there are still vents for the passive heat exchanger.

The table below shows where the DT592 with the i7-5500U CPU option falls compared to a typical modern desktop (a Delll Vostro we use in our office) and a typical modern Celeron-powered mobile tablet.

DT Research DT592 relative performance
Device DT Research DT592 Dell Vostro 3900 Advantech MIT-M101
Type Medical all-in-one Typical desktop PC Mobile Tablet
Processor Core i7-5500U Core i5-4460 Celeron N2930
Powered by Battery or A/C A/C Battery or A/C
TDP 15 watts 84 watts 7.5 watts
PassMark 2,173 2,518 962
CrystalMark 195,400 252,200 115,700

As you can see, the DT592 is quite powerful and quite close to a modern desktop. A speedy solid state disk helped the DT592 while our Dell desktop has a slower hard disk. Compared to a typical modern Intel Celeron-powered tablet (and presumably also the Celeron-powered versions of the DT590 Series), the DT592 is about twice as fast.

A few other things worth mentioning: DT590 Series units can easily be mounted via standard VESA patterns. Also available is a very sturdy desktop stand. On the OS front, customers can opt for Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Embedded Standard, the new Windows 10 IoT Enterprise (Microsoft now calls embedded versions of Windows 10 by the more fashionable term "IoT" — Internet of Things). Windows 10 offers security enhancements such as lock down features and device guard.

Overall, the DT Research DT590 Series of All-in-One Medical-Cart computers is certain to attract quite a bit of attention in the healthcare market. Between its trio of hot-swappable and readily available batteries that make for essentially unlimited battery life, the state-of-the-art processor solutions for different performance requirements, fanless operation, and the exceptional wealth of onboard connectivity, this is clearly new a generation of medical cart computing systems.

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Specifications DT Research DT592
Status Added 08/2016
Form-factor All-in-One medical cart computer
OS Microsoft Windows 7 Professional, Embedded Standard 7, or 10 IoT Enterprise
Processor Intel Core i7-5500U
CPU Speed 2.40GHz
CPU Burst Frequency 3.00GHz
Thermal Design Power 15 watts
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 5500
Standard/Max RAM 4GB to 16GB PC3-12800 DDR3 SDRAM
Disk/drive 128GB to 512GB Flash
Card slots Smart Card reader (half-slot)
Display type TFT-LCD with LED backlight
Display size/res 21.5-inch/1920 x 1080 pixel FHD (102 ppi)
Digitizer/pens 10-point capacitive multi-touch (optional)
Keyboard/scale Onscreen and optional mini-USB keyboard
Operating temp. 32° to 104°F (0° to 40°C)
Sealing IP65 front panel
Humidity 0% to 90% non-condensing
EMI and EMC FCC CFR Title 47 Part 18, EN 55011, EN 60601-1-2, EN 61000-3-2, EN 61000-3-3, AS/NZS CISPR 11
RF FCC Part 15C, FCC Part 15E, EN 300328, EN 301893, EN 301489-1, EN 301489-7, EN 62311, AS/NZS 4268
Safety UL (ANSI/AAMI ES60601-1), IEC 60601-1
Housing ABS+PC plastics, anti-microbial enclosure
Size (WxHxD) 20.8 x 12.5 x 2.3 inches (529 x 318 x 58 mm)
Weight 11 lbs. (5kg) w/o batteries
Power Up to three 11.1V 7,800mAH DR202 Li-Ion batteries (86.6 watt-hour per battery, max 260 watt-hour)
Cameras No camera
Data capture Optional: Smart Card/CAC-card full-slot reader
Interface 4 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, 4 x RS232, 2 x HDMI-out 1.4a (4K support), audio in/out, 1 x RJ34 LAN, power; optional: 2 x RJ45 LAN
Wireless 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth v4.0 LE
List price Inquire
Web DT592 web page
Spec sheet DT592 spec sheet (PDF)