Intermec launches smartphone-sized rugged mobile handheld computer

Firm targets device at rival Motorola's new rugged ES400

Rugged mobile computer maker Intermec today unveiled the CS40, a rugged system about the size of a typical smartphone.

The rugged mobile computer, which runs Windows Mobile 6.5, is designed to withstand multiple four-foot drops to concrete, making it more practical for many workers than a consumer-grade smartphone.

The CS40 mobile computer from Internec comes with either a full Qwerty physical keyboard or an alpha-numeric keyboard.

For example, Intermec said the CS40 is ideal for many field workers, such as those who repair machinery in offices and homes and must constantly remove a device from a belt, pocket or purse, said John O'Rourke, vice president of global marketing for Intermec.

Intermec, founded in 1966, makes a line of larger rugged handhelds used in warehouses, by health care firms and heavy construction companies. The offerings compete against rugged handheld computers made by companies like Motorola.

The CS40 can be used with either a full Qwerty physical keyboard or an alpha-numeric keyboard commonly seen on mobile phones. The device measures 5.25 x 2.46 x .94 inches and, including its battery, weighs 6.9 ounces.

The touchscreen display is 2.8 inches, and includes a stylus.

The device supports voice and data over UMTS, Bluetooth and 802.11 b/g.

O'Rourke said the device lists at $1,795, though volume purchases could bring the price below $1,000 per unit.

Intermec compares the CS40 to the ES400 from Motorola , which was unveiled in June.

One striking difference in the two is that the Intermec device includes a 2D barcode scanner as well as a 3 megapixel camera, while the Motorola device includes a 3.2 megapixel camera and no barcode scanner. The barcode scanner is easier and quicker to use than a camera for bringing an image of a barcode into focus, Intermec said.

Intermec also said that total cost of ownership, or TCO, of the CS40 could be as little as one-fifth of the cost of replacing consumer-grade smartphones used in work settings.

One job considered a prime candidate for the CS40 is replenishing greeting cards in multiple retail stores.

Intermec also introduced a suite of managed services for remote device management that can be used to inventory CS40s and other handhelds, as well as monitor battery life or turn off certain functions.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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