Interpine Forestry, Rotorua, is receiving plenty of interest from people interested in upgrading there current handheld field computers. Interpine has taken the initial step to upgrade our fleet of aging HP200LX data collection computers. As mentioned in article “What are the options for rugged forestry handheld computers?” there are plenty of units out there.
This initial upgrade of two units brought the need to be compatible with our current applications and provide for future flexibility. The two units selected being the Husky fex21 and the Juniper Allegro FieldPC. Both of these units run the Windows CE 3.0 Application Suite (Core 2.11) operating system (OS), together with an availability to run DOS in some form or manner. The Husky was purchased with a MIPS RISC 92Mhz processor and the Allegro sporting a 100Mhz AMD 486 Processor, of which seem plenty for the tasks required of us (the more you pay the better you get with the Husky available in a 129Mhz model).
How do we run our DOS applications ?
DOS is a requirement for many of the current software packages run by Forestry companies throughout New Zealand and therefore was a careful consideration when purchasing new generation rugged field computers. The DOS OS on the fex21 is run using a Windows CE emulator (pretend DOS), compared with DOS on the Allegro which runs in its native form outside of the Windows CE OS. The DOS emulator seems to work as an effective tool to allow you to run DOS based programs on a windows CE device, however depending on your processor speed, this can be a slow option for many software programs (eg. MARVLDE is slightly slower than on the HP200LX, on the Husky 92Mhz machine), it is however a useful option to allow access to both WindowsCE applications (eg. EXCEL or a calculator) while flipping quickly between the DOS window. Running the DOS on the Allegro is a dream with no problems and a noticable jump in application speed from the HP200LX or older Husky FS2, Hunter 16’s.
Ruggedness is the next real concern for the industry as we move ahead. The Allegro is a completely water-proof rated machine with it being able to be submersed completely in water for long periods of time. The fex21 has a rating of being able to be accidently submersed in water for short periods (this model has upgraded water seals from the normal base release model). All we can really say from here is that both models at time of writing have been operational out in the field enviroment for 8 months with neither experiencing any problems.
Memory and Storage
The days of no longer having enough room for data are no longer (at least until some software designer increases the amount of data collected). Both units feature large internal flash storage, 24MB on the Allegro and 32MB on the fex21. Processing RAM is 16MB on the allegro and 32MB on fex21, plenty enough for most common tasks and far exceed the current 2MB of the HP200LX or Psion Workabouts.
Useful Features !
The fex has a useful features of having an inbuilt modem for email of data direct from the handheld. The allegro can easily have an modem attached via serial or PC Card but the simplicity of the husky is tidy. Both units accept PC Cards of any type as supported by WinCE to provide increase storage space or expansion tools (RF, Cellular, GPS etc).
Both units have provided Interpine with good options for the future. It is too early to say which option is the best of model for us, and something time will only tell. If you would like to find out more information on these and other Rugged computer options email or call us through our feedback or contact forms.