Getac – PS535E review

rugged PDA with embedded GPS
Photo of Getac – PS535E
£553 + VAT

A year ago it seemed that few people had heard of rugged PCs or the name GETAC and yet now, like buses, they all arrive at once. GETAC is owned by MiTAC Technology Corporation, a joint venture with GE Aerospace division, and they have almost 20 years of experience in the rugged computing business. So following hard on the heels of the recent notebook (B300) and tablet PC (E100) comes the latest offspring, the PS535E PDA.

As you’d expect, this looks like a tough cookie. Designed in gun-metal grey and black, with a secure magnesium alloy structure and a screen cover to protect it from accidental damage, the PS535E has been through the same MIL-STD-810F and IP54 testing as the PCs in the range, to ensure its resistance to water, dust and debris. All external entry points are thoroughly protected by firm rubber covers or are screwed in place and the unit feels reassuringly chunky (144.25mm x 82.25mm x 29.3mm), weighing 300g.

Exterior ports are deliberately kept to a minimum, featuring an SD/MMC slot, a headphone jack, power input, USB 2.0 and a concealed on/off switch. All the action, of course, happens via the 3.5-inch TFT-LCD touch screen display, which makes use of the company’s proprietary Sunlight Readable Display technology to boost brightness in sunny conditions.

The control pad beneath the display contains a rapid on/off button plus quick links to the Start Menu, Contacts and the GPS application. In the middle of the control pad is a navigation stick which we found quite stiff to use, so you’d do best most of the time to stick to the stylus. At the back of the unit are a handy car antenna connector and a speaker.

It comes with a 400MHz Samsung 2440 processor with 64MB onboard SDRAM plus 2GB onboard NAND Flash Storage (upgradeable to 6GB) and uses Windows Mobile 5 (GETAC promises to change up to Windows Mobile 6 for the next version).

We’ve mentioned the embedded Global Positioning System, which will be a major attraction for those in the field and GETAC blatantly advertises this unit as ideal for both the military and professions such as engineering and construction, land surveying and mapping.

Going hand-in-hand with the GPS are integrated Bluetooth and 802.11b/g WiFi capability. Further configurable upgrades are possible, such as secure Digital IO slots allowing users to add components such as memory and RFID equipment.

In terms of battery capability, you’re urged to begin with a good 8-hour charge and the result for average usage is 8 hours before you need to plug in again (though using the Sunlight Readable Technology will reduce this). All in all, a perfect companion for when you’re out in harsh or dangerous terrain.

Company: Getac

Contact: 01952 207231

If you can persuade your commanding officer or site foreman to stump up the considerable cash for one of these virtually indestructible units, then you'll have a tough, versatile assistant with a useful and efficient built-in GPS.