Xplore spotlights rugged pen tablet

The problem of direct sunlight rendering computer screens unreadable is a thing of the past for those in the military, law enforcement and emergency services communities who have been using a new rugged pen tablet from Xplore Technologies Corp. that automatically brightens based on external light.

Xplore introduced the GeneSys Maximus on Oct. 15, but is using the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas this week as the product's "coming out party," said Rich Perley, senior vice president of the Austin, Texas-based company.

"We're working on a number of projects [with federal agencies], but they are all under nondisclosure," Perley said, adding that the new product already has been shipped to some of those customers in low volumes.

The GeneSys Maximus system weighs 5 pounds and features a 12.1-inch transflective, Active Matrix color LCD that feeds off direct sunlight. "For a cop or FEMA agent in the field, when sunlight hits it, it gets brighter," Perley said.

Other features include:

* Fully integrated wireless communications capabilities.

* Magnesium housing to withstand shock, rain, dust, humidity and temperature extremes.

* Intel Corp. 500 MHz CPU.

* 128M of SDRAM.

* 10G hard drive.

* Up to six hours of battery life.

Perley said demand for rugged computing options was increasing before the Sept. 11 attacks, and interest has skyrocketed since then.

"It raised awareness worldwide about the need for rugged, mobile computing and communications devices to assist in the challenges we have in battling" terrorism, he said. "It's really about empowering the people to do the job, whether that's with mobile computing or mobile communication."

The product is available on the General Services Administration schedule through Xplore's reselling partners, CDW-G Inc. and Comark Federal System Inc., Perley said. The list price is $5,895, but government discounts are available.

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