Rugged 8.4-inch Intel Atom-powered tablet for fleet management, factory management, and outdoor applications (by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
Norco is a Chinese designer and manufacturer of embedded product and solutions. They got started in 1991 and RuggedPCReview.com site visitors may be familiar with the company's US arm, Habey Intelligent Technology, which NORCO established in 2008. Norco is also a member of the Intel Intelligent Systems Alliance.What caught our eyes is what appears to be Norco's first rugged tablet computer, the PPC-3308 shown below.
At first sight, we thought NORCO might be working with DT Research, which has a similar looking tablet in their WebDT 372, but that's not the case; form follows function, and there are only so many ways to design a rugged tablet with full corner and edge protection.
Designed for use in mobile fleet environment, factory management, as well as for general outdoor applications, the PPC-3308 bridges the gap between older style Tablet PCs and newer rugged media tablets. Weighing under three pounds, the device is light and handy enough to be carried around, and its 1.5GHz "Oak Trail" Intel Atom Z670 processor offers economical netbook-level performance. This is the same processor Motion and Fujitsu chose for their small enterprise tablets. For storage there is between 16 and 64GB or Flash.
On the display side, Norco chose a 8.4-inch display with standard 4:3 aspect ratio 800 x 600 pixel SVGA resolution and a resistive digitizer that works either with tuch or with a passive stylus. So no capacitive multi-touch here. Norco describes the display as sunlight-readable and lists a 450 nits backlight strength. The standard battery packs 31.2 watt-hours. No battery life is listed, but we'd expect about four to five hours. For almost twice that, there's an optional external 29 watt-hour snap-on battery.
The PPC-3308 shines on the versatility front where, in addition to the standard WiFi and Bluetooth, it can also be equipped with a 1D/2D barcode scanner, a mag stripe reader, 3G/4G mobile broadband, uBlox GPS, a fingerprint reader, and RFID. For deployment in vehicles, there's a special vehicle cradle that not only offers the usual port replication, but also ODU, OBD2 and CAN port.
Intended for use in vehicles and in the field, we'd expect the PPC-3308 to be quite rugged, and with its large corner bumpers it certainly looks the part. The -4 to 122 degree Fahrenheit operating temperature range is suitably wide, the four-foot drop spec is perhaps a bit less than expected, and we always like to see at least IP65 sealing instead of the PPC-3308's IP64 (the "6" means dustproof, the "4" protection against water spray from all directions whereas a "5" would mean low pressure water jets).
No word on pricing, and without hands-on we can't really comment on the quality of the display, but overall the Norco PPC-3308 looks like it has potential for a good many applications out there that do not require Android or a procap digitizer.
Note January 12, 2013: Habey USA is now selling the Norco PPC-3308 as the Habey TPC-6508-R8, and HABEY USA put up a nice 5-minute video describing the R8 and its many features.
Specifications Norco PPC-3308/Habey R8
Added 9/2012, updated 01/2013, updated 05/2013
Microsoft Windows 7, Android or Linux
Intel Atom Z670
Intel SM35 Express
1GB or 2GB DDR2 800MHz
16GB to 64GB Flash
Sunlight-readable LCD (450 nits)
8.4-inch, 800 x 600 pixel SVGA
4-wire resistive touch
-4° to 122° Fahrenheit (-20° to 50° Celsius)
Multiple 4-foot (1.2-meter) drops per MIL-STD-810G
0% to 90% (non condensing)
FCC class B, CE, UL, ROHS
ABS+PC plastic with rubber bumper corner protection