Mobility gains momentum
- By Michelle Speir
- Mar 31, 2002
Desktop computing is so 20th century at least that's the impression likely
left after March's FOSE trade show in Washington, D.C. As wireless connectivity
technology evolves, vendors are following suit with products and services
geared toward a mobile workforce. Key issues are security, connectivity
and, of course, portability.
The mFormation Enterprise Manager by mFormation Technologies Inc. is
a Web-based management platform that enables agencies to monitor and control
wireless devices hooked in to their local-area network. No longer a free
agent, each notebook or handheld computer becomes just another client on
that LAN, subject to the same support and controls as a desktop computer.
The system works by loading software "agents" on each device to monitor
it. From a central console, which can reside in an agency's facility or
be hosted remotely, systems administrators can track a device's physical
location by monitoring signals sent by each handheld to the nearest wireless
network base station.
Administrators can monitor the applications loaded and remotely lock
or delete information in case of loss or theft. They can also remotely manage
passwords and end-user authorization, compile reports and more. The mFormation
Enterprise Manager is compatible with all handheld devices running Palm
Inc. OS, Research in Motion Ltd. BlackBerry OS and Microsoft Corp. Pocket
PC software. It supports Cingular Wireless Mobitex and several other wireless
Agencies installing the system pay a one-time fee of $20,000 per location
for the server platform plus a one-time fee of $70 to $100 per device, based
on volume. Agencies with only a few hundred devices can outsource the service,
paying a $10 to $12 monthly per-device fee, but no server fee. For more
information, visit www.mformation.com.
Smarter, Tougher Notebooks
Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. is keeping up with the increased security
demands of a mobile workforce by introducing a new ruggedized notebook with
a built-in smart card reader. The Toughbook 48 is Panasonic's "security
box," according to the company.
The system also features 802.11b wireless LAN connectivity, a 1.6 GHz
Mobile Intel Corp. Pentium 4 Processor-M, a 20G hard drive, 256M of synchronous
dynamic RAM, expandable to 768M, a floppy drive and a DVD-ROM drive.
Pricing is not yet available for the Toughbook 48. For more information,
Another rugged mobile device hitting the market is the netpad 3500 from
Psion Teklogix Inc. Designed for data collection in various environments,
the netpad 3500 comes with a built-in scanner and can withstand a five-foot
drop onto concrete as well as submersion in water.
The device weighs just over 1 pound and measures approximately 8.5 inches
by 3.4 inches by 1.4 inches. It features a 256-color touch screen that can
switch from portrait to landscape viewing. The current version is a batch
device that collects information for later download to a docking station,
but future releases will feature optional 802.11b wireless LAN.
The netpad 3500 ranges in price from $1,000 to $9,000 on the General
Services Administration schedule, depending on the customer's needs and
options. For more information, visit www.psion teklogix.com.