Panasonic suddenly isn’t alone in the very niche rugged mobile device market. It’s now facing competition from Hewlett-Packard Canada, which has entered with notebook and Tablet PC solutions.
“”We entered the rugged market to help our partners in this area and to help fill out the product line
from iPaqs to these high end rugged notebooks,”” said Daniel Reio, product manager of corporate notebooks and tablets for HP Canada. “”We want people to know we have everything.””
Reio also said resellers and some customers requested a solution in this area because VARs were losing deals to Panasonic.
The notebook market is not as robust as in previous years as it only grew five per cent last quarter, according to IDC figures. However, Reio said the rugged market is a growth market at 10 to 12 per cent of the commercial notebook segment.
The rugged market is a long lifecycle sector, usually approaching six to seven years. It is a higher margin opportunity at around 12 per cent for resellers, Reio said.
“”Usually these machines are in vehicles in a harsh outdoor environment and you need to have good outdoor screens that protect it against sunlight. They need to be wireless and they need to last.””
The nr3600 Rugged Note-book weighs 7.9 lbs. and has an Outdoor Transmissive 12.1-inch display with passive touchscreen and a versatile media bay drive. The machine is not waterproof but it is splash proof and has a shock-mounted 2.5-inch 40 GB or 80 GB removable hard drive. It can survive 26 three-foot drops on plywood over concrete
The tr3000 Rugged Tablet PC weighs 3.7 lbs. and has an Outdoor Transmissive 8.4-inch display with passive touchscreen and wireless connectivity. The tablet also includes a 933 Mhz ultra-low-voltage mobile Intel PIII processor that will support up to 640 MB of low voltage SDRAM.
It comes with 256MB of memory and a Li-ion battery said to give up to 3.5 hours of life.
HP designed the cases and they were custom made for these products including the wrist and shoulder strap.
Some other markets for rugged notebooks include fire and police departments, utilities, government field services, the oil and gas industry and the military.
The nr3600 starts at $5,499 with aircard and can cost up to $6,599. The tablet tr3000 starts at $4,599. The rugged series offers eight standard configurations, but Reio said most customers would want customized models.