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Psion launches industrial PDA

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Psion Teklogix has launched a ruggedised * industrial handheld device it calls the netpad. It's a half-kilo "half-VGA" (640x240) tablet.

This was first showed in prototype form two-and-a- half years ago at CeBIT alongside the prototype netBook.

Like the netBook, it uses an SA-1100 StrongARM and Symbian's ER5 OS. Unlike the netBook, and unlike most water-filled novelty snowstorms, too, it's capable of withstanding a five-foot drop test onto concrete.

Psion was at pains to point out that this is a product for a niche it knows well: field workers in the utilities, telcos and servicing major appliances, ticket inspectors, couriers and the like.

Psion has been selling it to the industrial market since the late eighties, and acquired a global player last year in the shape of 600-strong Canadian firm Teklogix in a deal worth C$550m. It has the enterprise middleware (Java, IBM MQ Series) to throw into the pot, but it's really a multi-OS company these days, despite Psion being the largest shareholder in Symbian.

The netpad itself has no Ethernet, USB or Bluetooth, but all are on the roadmap, as is a version with integrated cellular wireless. It doesn't use character recognition (although it can grab signatures), but the pop-up keyboard almost fills the screen, which isn't a bad substitute.

Psion Teklogix says the device will be priced between the ruggedized Palms and full size A4 tablets, at a shade over $1800. ®

*Or as Microsoft Word XP's spell checker suggests, "buggerized". Clearly The Beast has little margin for error in evangelizing its own um, ruggedised CE-based devices.

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