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RuggON PM-521

Rugged Intel Bay Trail-powered 10.1-inch Windows procap tablet for data capture and point-of-sale applications
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

Taiwan-based RuggON Corporation was established in 2014 as a provider of ruggedized computing products. RuggON's stated mission is to raise the productivity of rugged computing solutions through creative, pioneering technology. Their lineup consists of RuggTAB tablets and RuggVMC vehicle mounts. On this page we're describing the PM-521 10.1-inch rugged tablet that's part of the company's Rextorm line.

The PM-521 represents a lower cost alternative to RuggON's Intel Core-powered PX versions of the same Rextorm platform. Weighing under three pounds, the PM-521 offers enough screen real estate and computing power for virtually any Windows application, enough ruggedness for outdoor deployment, and an impressive roster of accessories and add-on modules.

The RuggON PM-521 has a large 10.1-inch display with full WUXGA 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution, making for a wide 16:9 aspect ratio and offering more pixels than 1080p high definition TV. The display's 224 dpi (dots per inch) are in the iMac Retina and MacBook Pro retina range, making it very sharp indeed. There's projected capacitive multi-touch with a maximum of ten discrete simultaneous inputs, allowing for all the tapping, panning, pinching and zooming all those hundreds of millions of smartphone and media tablet users the world over now except.

The screen size and aspect ratio make the PM-521 equally suitable for use with contemporary versions of Windows as with legacy Windows-based vertical and industrial market software. The supplied passive capacitive stylus has a pointy 2mm hard tip, making it much more suitable for precision work than those broad, squishy capacitive styli that are still prevalent in most capacitive tablet offerings. If yet more precision is required, there's also an active digitizer option. Also worth mentioning are RuggON's use of the protective Gorilla Glass, optical bonding to reduce internal reflectivity, and glove-touch capability. Finally, the display's very strong backlight presents 1,000 nits luminance, greatly enhancing sunlight viewability.

The RuggON PM-521 is powered by a dual-core 1.75GHz Intel Atom E3827 processor. Note that this is not one of the older, performance-challenged Atom chips. Instead, the E3827 is part of Intel's "Bay Trail" lineup of vastly improved CPUs that are powerful enough to not only be sold under the Atom brand, but also the Celeron and Pentium brands. "Bay Trail" is based on the "Silvermont" processor architecture, which is really the first true architectural update to Atom since its introduction in 2008. Bay Trail processors use up to four Silvermont cores, and for the first time in an ultra mobile Intel SoC pairs them with Intel's own graphics IP. In fact, Bay Trail leverages the same GPU architecture as in the Ivy Bridge Core processors, just with fewer EUs (execution units).

In terms of connectivity, the PM-521 provides a high-speed USB 3.0 port, an additional USB 2.0 port, micro HDMI, a 3.5mm audio jack, and RJ45 Ethernet. A legacy RS232 DB9 serial port is optionally available instead of the USB 2.0 port. For documentation and video communication, the PM-521 has two cameras, a rear-facing 5-megapixel autofocus unit with LED illuminator for documentation, and a front-facing 2-megapixel webcam.

Integrating optional components is not as easy with thin and light designs such as the PM-521, and RuggON chose a hybrid approach here. Customers can specify optional integrated NFC and industrial-grade 2D barcode reader, but magnetic stripe reading and smart card reading are handled via bolt-on modules instead.

For wireless communication, the PM-521 includes Bluetooth 4.0 Class II, fast 802.11ac WiFi, and GNSS. Optionally available is 3.5G or 4G LTE mobile broadband capability. The unit's gyroscope, G-sensor, E-compass and ambient light sensor can be used for innovative functionality in system software and apps.

Even though the PM-521 looks almost playful with its bright-red protective side, edge and corner protection, it is actually a fully rugged design that is much tougher than any consumer media tablet. There is an impressive 5-feet drop spec, the tablet offers equally impressive IP65 sealing (total protection against dust, protection against low pressure water jets from all directions), a wide operating temperature range of -4 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to +50 Celsius), and a variety of other MIL-STD-810G testing.

The device comes standard with a 48.6 watt-hour watt-hour battery that RuggON rates as good for about six hours between charges. If that's not enough, there's an optional extended battery that doubles capacity and battery life. Given the tablet's power-efficient processor, we have no doubt the PM-521 can meet those estimates, and likely more.

The RuggON Rextorm is a timely and attractive tablet platform that should be of substantial interest to enterprise, industrial and vertical market customers. It's a modern and impressively rugged solution for all sorts of field data capture and communications deployments via a roster of add-on and snap-on modules. The Intel Broadwell-powered PM-521 is positioned to provide suitable performance at a lower price point than the Intel Core-based versions.

Specifications RuggON PM-521
Added Added 09/2015
Type Rugged Windows Tablet PC
Processor Dual-core Intel "Bay Trail" Atom E3827
CPU Speed 1.75GHz
Burst Speed NA
CPU Thermal Design Power 8 watts
Standard/Max RAM 4GB or 8GB DDR3L SO-DIMM
OS Windows 7 Pro/WES7P, Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Pro, WES8
Graphics Intel HD Graphics
Disk/drive 120GB mSATA SSD (optional 240GB)
Expansion bay No
Expansion slots Unknown
Card slots 1 x micro SIM card, 1 x Micro SD card
Display type Sunlight-readable TFT with LED backlight, 1,000 nits luminance, water/palm rejection, Gorilla Glass 3
Display size/res 10.1-inch/WUXGA (1920 x 1200 pixel)
Digitizer/pens 10-point projected capacitive multi-touch, glove touch, 2mm capacitive pen, optional active digitizer
Keyboard/scale Optional external
Housing Unknown
Operating Temp -4° to 122°F (-20° to 50°C)
Sealing IP65
Drop MIL-STD-810G Method 516.6 Procedure IV, 26 5-feet drops onto plywood
Shock Est: MIL-STD-810G, Method 516.6, Procedure I, 40g, 11ms operation
Humidity MIL-STD-810G Method 507.5 Humidity Procedure II Aggravated Cycles (Fig 507.5-7), 5 to 95% non-condensing
Thermal shock Est: MIL-STD-810G, Method 503.5, Procedure I
Vibration MIL-STD-810G Method 514.6 Category 4, Fig 514.6C-1, Fig 514.6C-2, Fig 514.6C-3
Altitude Est: MIL-STD-810G, Method 500.5, Procedures I & II
Certifications CE, FCC, CB
Size (WxHxD) 11.0" x 7.7" x 0.9" (280mm x 195mm x 23mm)
Weight 2.93 lb. (1.33kg)
Power 4,500mAH, 10.8V, 48.6whr ("6 hours"), optional extended 9,000mAH, 10.8V, 97.2whr ("12 hours")
Interface 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0 (or optional RS232), 1 x gigabit RJ45, 1 x Micro HDMI, audio in/out, 2 x RF passhthrough, dock
Camera Rear: 5-megapixel AF with LED flash, front: 2-megapixel webcam
Sensors Gyroscope, G-sensor, E-compass, ambient light
Wireless 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth v4.0, optional: NFC RFID, GNSS (GPS/GLONASS/BeiDou),3.5G or 4G LTE, mag stripe reader, 2D barcode scanner, CAC smart card reader
List price inquire
Web page RuggON PM-521 product page
Brochure RuggON PM-521 brochure (PDF)
RuggON PM-521 Docks/Accessories

RuggON Corporation
3F., No.10, Ln. 181, Sec. 2, Jiuzong Rd., Neihu Dist.
Taipei City 114, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Fax: 886-2-8797-1881
Web: www.ruggon.com