Computing technology in the patrol vehicle environment continues to grow in capabilities while remaining the same—or shrinking—in size and weight. Several leading companies in the public safety computing field offer solutions to your in-car data needs. In no particular order, the following are a few worth your consideration.
Data 911’s M7
Data 911 offers a number of CPU and screen options for mobile computing, with the M7 a popular choice. The M7 is 3 1/6 x 13 5/32 x 5 3/4 inches and weighs 2.41 lbs, with the mount being an additional 1.02 lbs. One of the most appealing features of the M7 is that it’s backwards compatible with all generations of Data 911 M series mobile computers. This is important to agencies because many desire to preserve existing technology to minimize costs when upgrading. The key features of the M7 over previous models include faster processors with a lower power draw (Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Core i7 processors available); a sunlight-readable, LED-illuminated touch screen; cooler running displays in four sizes; and up to eight gigs of memory. Additionally, the unit features solid-state drives, new power control module features, and Windows 7 and XP compatibility. The M7 is also air bag compliant, offers internal wireless broadband options and has an optional illuminated detachable keyboard. The system provides easy out-of-car computing with companion Rugged Netbooks, resulting in no additional communication costs. The modular design allows for a variety of mounting options.
The rugged system is also designed to hold up to harsh vehicular environments and perform in extreme temperature conditions. Data 911 claims that their system will last more than two times longer than the competitors’ products, with a 10-plus-year usable life backed by a 10-plus-year warranty.
Panasonic has been in the rugged mobile computers since 1996, and has recently upgraded their popular convertible tablet—the Panasonic Toughbook CF-19—which isn’t your typical in-car computer because the tablet can be used in the vehicle and then easily taken with you. The updated rugged Toughbook CF-19 now comes with an Intel Core i5-3320M vPro processor (up to 3.3 GHz) with Intel Turbo Boost Technology. Other enhancements include expanded storage, a more responsive touchpad and an innovative ambient light sensor, allowing automatic backlight shut-off to improve battery life. The upgraded Toughbook CF-19 also features expanded storage with a 500-GB, 7200-rpm hard drive (shock-mounted, flex-connect with quick release), improved battery life that provides 10% longer use, a USB 3.0 port that provides up to 10x faster file transfer speeds, increased touchpad responsiveness through the use of Interlink’s VersaPad, and an improved battery calibration tool.
According to Panasonic, optional integrated 4G LTE wireless or 3G Gobi mobile broadband is another key feature of the Toughbook CF-19, allowing workers to stay connected virtually all of the time. Optional GPS technology enables improved accuracy, fast satellite acquisition time and low power consumption. The Toughbook CF-19 also features Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth v. 4.0 + EDR (Class 1) and numerous other connectivity options. With 10 hours of battery life, the Toughbook CF-19 has plenty of juice.
Structurally, the Toughbook CF-19 goes beyond the MIL-STD-810G certification with the ability to withstand a six-foot drop and features a shock-mounted hard drive, magnesium alloy case and available explosive atmosphere certification (Class 1, Div 2) for hazardous environments. The Toughbook CF-19’s IP65 certification provides water and dust resistance, enabling field workers to maintain their productivity in challenging environments, such as heavy rains or sandstorms. In addition, the device has a fanless design unlike other convertible tablets, improving reliability by reducing dust- or liquid-related issues. The 10.1-inch XGA touchscreen display with anti-reflective and anti-glare screen treatments, plus a circular polarizing filter, provides an unparalleled outdoor viewing experience, even in direct sunlight. The Toughbook CF-19 is backed with a three-year limited warranty, parts and labor.
Getac is another reliable player in the rugged computing market. Their most popular model, the B300 rugged notebook, features Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, which allows it to perform up to 25% faster than the previous generation. Every B300 also features an advanced 1,400 nit QuadraClear display. This QuadraClear solution combines proprietary technologies for both screen brightness and anti-reflectivity to reduce the sunlight’s reflectivity. This provides an effective contrast rate seven times better than other displays, while still maintaining the battery life you need in the field. The QuadraClear display is powered by LEDs that provide an energy-efficient display that’s mercury-free, durable and consistent in brightness over time.
The Getac B300 has an excellent battery life of up to 15 hours on a single charge and, with the dual battery configuration, it can run for up to 30 hours. 4G LTE and WiFi access is also available, and the chassis is built from high quality magnesium alloy.
According to Getac, the B300 features four main casings specifically engineered to protect the computer against drops, shocks, spills, vibration and more. The fanless, sealed design of the B300 also protects it against dust and liquid. The B300 has been independently tested and certified to MIL-STD 810G, IP65 and MIL-STD-461F standards.
Brite is a little bit different from the rest because the company works with many different computer manufactures and mount systems to provide a computing solution rather than a standalone individual model. The company has been in business for more than a decade, and has worked with police departments across the nation. According to Brite, these solutions provide maximum flexibility, reliability and interoperability across organizations of any size and complexity.
The core components within the Brite in-vehicle solution include a mobile data computer, vehicle specific mounts and professional installation services. Additionally, the company gives customers the tools to enhance in-vehicle capabilities, such as wireless gateways, in-car video and mobile printers. As an example, Brite offers rugged tablets and convertible notebooks from Panasonic (Toughbook CF-19, Toughbook CF-31, Toughbook H2, Toughbook CF-53, and Toughbook U1), semi-rugged tablets from Fujitsu (LIFEBOOK T901 and LIFEBOOK T731), rugged notebooks from General Dynamics (GD6000 and GD8000), and Brite rugged tablets (RT1200). Service and support post-installation are also part of the package.
So, for those agencies that may want to integrate several computing solutions or components from several manufacturers, going the route of using a company like Brite might be the best solution.
Data 911, Panasonic, Getac and Brite provide hardware and data solutions that sit on the cutting edge of rugged computing technologies. As with any item in a patrol vehicle, the choice of which to use is dependent on the results of a needs assessment. Regardless of which way you go, there’s no doubt that the fierce competition between these companies and the capabilities of their rugged computer solutions only helps provide a better working environment for today’s officer.