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Hendon Publishing

Laptops and Handheld Computers, Part 2 of 2

Panasonic Computer Solutions

For state and local government agencies looking to improve services to their community, Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. offers its Toughbook line of rugged mobile computers. Panasonic Toughbooks remain operational longer than conventional laptops and require fewer repairs, making them a greater return on investment. By providing maximum efficiency in the most challenging conditions, Toughbooks technology allows law enforcement to better protect the public.

A wireless, fully rugged laptop that converts to a Tablet PC, the Toughbook 19 is ideal for mobile workers. Designed to survive 3-foot drops and withstand extreme temperatures, this laptop PC is MIL-STD-810F and IP54 compliant. Features include 1) an Intel Centrino processor technology with Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2) optional integrated Gobi 3G technology (for Sprint and Verizon networks), 3) 80GB shock-mounted removable hard disk drive and 4) sealed all-weather design in a full magnesium alloy case.

Panasonic’s Toughbook U1 provides even more mobility. This compact, yet rugged, handheld PC features a 5.6-inch LED touchscreen and a backlit Qwerty keyboard with zoom and scroll buttons. It can withstand a 4-foot drop and, like the Toughbook 19, meets all rugged condition standards. Integrated options include barcode and fingerprint readers, GPS, camera, and 3G mobile broadband. Equipped with a twin hot-swappable lithium-ion battery pack, The U1 can operate for nine hours with a battery charging time of seven hours off, 10 hours on.

When the Lee County, FL Sheriff’s Office revamped its mobile computing system, it chose the Panasonic Toughbook solution. Its durability in extreme conditions makes it ideal for the county’s Marine Unit, where sun, wind, heat, and rain are constant factors. Also deployed in squad cars, the Toughbook allows officers to spend more time in the vehicle as opposed to constant trips to headquarters to complete paperwork. Panasonic Toughbooks are now standard issue equipment in the Lee County Sheriff’s Department.

Several years ago, the St. Petersburg, FL Police were faced with a decrease in funding, forcing them to switch from their Panasonic Toughbooks to commercial-grade laptops as a way to cut spending. Unable to withstand the humidity, rain, and hot sun, the laptops required 127 service calls in the first two years after the changeover. Unable to remember even one service call for the Toughbook, the department quickly switched back to the Panasonic rugged computer. The Toughbook offers the reliability and durability required to survive Florida’s heat and humidity, and the threat of hurricanes.

Trimble-Tripod Data Systems

With more than 3,800 employees in more than 18 countries, Trimble has been a leading provider of advanced positioning solutions since 1978. Serving a large number of markets, the company offers several rugged handheld PCs for law enforcement.

The Trimble Recon is a rugged handheld device that can stand up to the most extreme conditions. This lightweight (only 17 ounces), waterproof, and reliable handheld offers maximum performance and conforms to military specifications for extreme conditions. With optional embedded Bluetooth and 802.11g wireless, the Recon features an Intel XScale processor, 64 MB of RAM, and data protection due to resets or power failure.

Various modules are available that offer such features as the Extended CF-Cap for large CompactFlash cards and the Optical CF-Cap for CF card digital camera. The Nomad 800XC model features a 2.0 megapixel digital camera, while the 800XE offers both a camera and a laser bar-code scanner.

The recently released Nomad 800x series offers three new models equipped with a high-speed wireless data modem and AT&T’s 1 EDGE Network. Features of the Nomad 800X include real-time data and SMS (short message service) transmission via a cellular network at speeds of up to 1 MB per second, easy access to Internet and e-mail, GPS capability to transmit field position, an IP67 rating and adherence to stringent MIL-STD-810F military standards and Windows Mobile operating system compatible to most software applications.

Since 2006, the Portland, OR Police Bureau has been using the Trimble Recon handheld computer for electronic ticketing and mobile e-citations. Before that, police officers wrote conventional paper tickets at the rate of 130,000 a year that were gathered and sent to the courts and then manually entered into the court’s computer system. Equipped with Bluetooth and GRRS wireless cards, the Recon is designed to save time, increase accuracy, and reduce paperwork. It also allows aggregate tracking of citations to determine future deployment of resources.

When an officer pulls a driver over, he can enter the license information into the handheld and transmit it to the motor vehicle database to check driving status (i.e. suspended or revoked license). In addition, queries can be submitted to criminal justice databases, such as the NCIC, to check for warrants or stolen property. It takes from six to 15 seconds for the results of the query, at which time the software auto-fills the information into the form fields. Once a citation is issued, a hard copy is printed using a Bluetooth-enabled mobile printer. The data is then transmitted from the handheld to servers for the police bureau and the courts.

For the Portland Police Bureau, these rugged handhelds have proven to be reliable and durable in the field. They can withstand drops, vibrations, and extreme temperatures and are sealed against dust and water. In addition to e-citations, the bureau runs its Computer Automated Dispatch (CAD) system on the Recon, making it an invaluable tool for effective policing.

Xplore Technologies

Since its inception, Xplore Technologies has consistently invested in research and market development to maintain its edge in the field of rugged mobile computing systems. For 10 years, it has been providing innovative products to a diverse group of industries. In the field of law enforcement, Xplore recommends the recently launched iX104C4 rugged Tablet PC.

This fourth generation tablet has been field tested and exceeds the most stringent military testing standards of MIL-STD 810F. In fact, Xplore’s drop spec states that its tablet can withstand a 4-foot drop onto concrete 26 times and remain operational. It is also protected from dust ingress, can handle pressured water streams at any direction, and functions in extreme heat and cold.

The iX104C4 offers several display options, 1) AllVue Xtreme that allows optimal screen viewing in outdoor conditions, 2) DualMode, which offers a combination of finger touch and stylus use and 3) DualMode AllVue that combines all the features of the above-listed options.

With applications for command and control, incident reporting, database query, and ticketing, Xplore’s rugged mobile computers offer an ideal solution for law enforcement agencies. Police personnel can perform a variety of functions that include 1) records search and crime data analysis, 2) online incident and crime scene reports, 3) central dispatch computer interfacing, 4) state and federal database access and 5) ability to issue and print citations.

The Rochester, NY Police introduced Xplore’s GeneSys tablet computers to their patrol force in 2002 and recently added 80 new iX104 rugged tablet PCs. Initially, the officers had several concerns about the new technology. They viewed the installation of the hardware in their vehicles as potentially cumbersome and were leery about going to mobile applications. However, the compactness of the equipment and the operational ease of the tablet PC allowed them to quickly adapt to the new system.

Using the Windows XP TPC operating system, officers have instant access to text messaging, policies and procedures, and geographical map assignments. More rugged than laptops, the tablets are designed to withstand extreme climates and conditions and have survived several vehicle crashes. According to Lieutenant Michael J. Kozak, the overall design of the Xplore tablet lends itself to successful further enhancements in the future.

Xplore Technologies has partnered with a number of system integrators and distributors to provide solutions to meet the requirements that are unique to law enforcement.


Since technology evolves at such a rapid rate, it is important to purchase products that can be easily modified and integrated into existing systems. The costs of rugged computers in particular warrant adaptability, and police agencies should consider the return of investment (ROI) before making a decision.

The St. Petersburg Police Department learned that going with a lesser product to adhere to budgetary restraints can end up costing more in the long run. When the time comes to upgrade technology, police administrators should research all their options by accessing company Web sites that provide in-depth product review and contact information.

Susan Geoghegan graduated summa cum laude from Florida Gulf Coast University with a B.S. in criminal justice. She has previously been published in LAW and ORDER magazine and can be reached at

Published in Law and Order, Mar 2009

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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