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Panasonic Computer Solutions Company, has announced the release of the revolutionary Mobile Data Wireless Display and Toughbook 07 Mini PC, a cordless solution for a wired world.

A unique product in concept, technology and ergonomics, the Mobile Data Wireless Display is designed to computer- and network-enable field-force professionals still dependent on paper, pencils, ten-key calculators, and radio communications for data interchange in such areas as public safety, Telco & Utility-company field service, healthcare, construction, maintenance & inspection bays, and insurance claims adjusters.

Based on proprietary, broadband, wireless technology providing instant screen updates up from 150 to 300 feet in open spaces from a 2 pound standalone Toughbook 07 Mini PC or enabled notebook PC utilizing a LAN card, the Wireless Display PC was designed to improve users' productivity through added portability and significantly reduce the amount of time needed to access and file work reports from the field in all areas of data entry and management.

The heart of the Mobile Data Wireless Display is an 8.4-inch SVGA transflective touchscreen display that combines ambient light--including direct sunlight--and high-intensity backlighting to provide equally optimum screen brightness for police officers working under the noonday sun, telephone repair crews called out in a midnight storm and quality-control inspectors electronically filling out and filing checklists from a fluorescent-lit factory floor.

Weighing just 1.5 pounds and under one inch thick, the 8.74 x 6.38-inch transflective touchscreen is sealed and ruggedized for shock, vibration, 4 foot drops, dust, water, heat and cold conditions. It is encased in a magnesium alloy with a stylus for inputting. The MDWD has a backlit option for low lighting or nighttime usage. Battery is rated a 2.5 hours with a backlit screen on and 5 hours without. A special screen capture on-board function allows users to capture and save up to 100 screen images.

The Mobile Data Wireless Display was also designed to work in unison with the Toughbook 07 Mini PC weighing in at only 2 pounds and featuring an Intel Pentium III 300MHz CPU, 64MB of PC100 SDRAM, and a shock-mounted 5GB 1.8-inch hard drive in a 7.87 x 3.61 x 2.05-inch aluminum case. Onboard ports include mini-USB, serial, DC-input, Wireless Display interface, and one Type 2 PCMCIA card slots.

The Mobile Data Wireless display offers a unique combination of wireless communications capabilities. In addition to an integrated internal GPS receiver and antenna option, the MDWD uses 802.11b LAN communications to stream data and graphics from the Toughbook 07 Mini or enabled notebook PC with a PC LAN card. In addition to a transparent LAN system stream data and graphics between the Mini PC and MDWD, wide area, wireless communications solutions can be integrated including the Motient, Cingular Interactive, and CDPD nationwide networks.

In a statement, Yoshi Yamada, director of the Personal Computer Division of Panasonic's parent company, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., cited the Mobile Data Display as the latest in a long line of Panasonic innovations including the first notebook PCs with integrated CD-ROM, DVD, Telco line tester, and the product that helped put PCSC on the map: the revolutionary fully ruggedized Toughbook CF-25 notebook PC.

"Our products represent the sum total of our customers needs and requirements and the design is ultimately driven by the customer," Yamada said. "One of the constant demands our installed base has is for greater portability and flexibility. We saw the nascent `wearable' computer category as an interesting approach to potentially achieving these capabilities. However, when we looked at what was out there today, and the direction the industry appeared to be going, we saw a glaring problem--wires everywhere. We felt strongly that if we were to pursue developing a wearable computer we had to first create a wireless means of separating the display from the CPU in order to begin to provide the unencumbered portability required. We feel that the Mobile Data Wireless Display and Toughbook 07 Mini PC represent the beginning of a work in progress to attaining a true wearable computer beginning with the innovation of streaming data and graphics instantaneously between the Mini PC and the display."

Initial MDWD production models will be optimized for use by motorcycle, bicycle and ATV-mounted police officers. Specialized variations for telephone-line technicians, Emergency Medical Teams, insurance adjusters, construction-site engineers and other field force professionals are under development. The Mobile Data Wireless Display is also expected to be widely used to implement sales and service applications involving the generation of forms and contracts having legally binding status under the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act

"One of the advantages of being a subsidiary of a core manufacturer is that we don't have to build one-size-fits-all computing solutions," said Rance Poehler, president of Panasonic Computer Solutions Company. "The Mobile Data Wireless Display and the Toughbook 07 Mini PC are designed to be lean and lightweight and ultra-durable providing task-specific solutions.

"The Mobile Data Wireless Display itself was designed from the outset to work paired with either the Mini PC or an enabled notebook PC. The advantages of a dedicated, under-two-pound wireless module that can go anywhere the user goes are obvious. Among other things, it makes the Mobile Data Wireless Display almost infinitely portable and upgradeable in the sense that it can be migrated to a higher-performance host simply by moving a PC Card.

"As a practical example, consider a single public-safety agency. Deploying the MDWD and Mini PC system will give their motorcycle-mounted officers the same access to criminal-information databases as officers in patrol cars. Not only does this give the motorcycle officer the information he needs to do his job more efficiently, it enters his report into the police-department database in real time making the information on that suspect available to other officers who might encounter him later in the same day.

"Then there are the officers in patrol cars, many of them working without partners. For solitary officers, 'go-backs'--the process of having to return to their vehicle to access the computer during a traffic stop--can be the most hazardous moments of their day because they inevitably require that the officer turn away from the car's occupants for at least an instant. Providing officers with an in-vehicle-notebook-hosted Wireless Display to use outside his car virtually eliminates those potentially life-threatening `go-backs.'"

"From the beginning of this project we fixated on obtaining hard-wired notebook performance and durability in a wireless system. Getting the display screen to respond to the computer instantaneously, just as if it were mounted above the module in a clamshell case, required `building' an entirely new communications protocol. This was a first for Panasonic as a core manufacture of computer hardware, however, at the same time, it is another example of the unique solutions we have been providing for the past twenty years."
COPYRIGHT 2001 Millin Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Publication:EDP Weekly's IT Monitor
Article Type:Product Announcement
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 2, 2001

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