Check out the Switchback UMPC, a ruggedized computer designed for use in extreme conditions anywhere on the planet.
UMPC stands for Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer, and the Switchback has the “ultra-mobile” part down. It is small and lightweight, just 3 pounds, with a 5.6 inch touch screen. It’s powered by a 1 Ghz Celeron processor and can come pre-loaded with Windows XP or Vista. (1 Ghz Celeron and Vista? Go with XP. Thank me later) It has 120 GB hard drive, 2GB of RAM, hot swappable batteries, and a host of wireless connectivity, including Bluetooth, 802.11g, and GPS reception.
All of those tech specs sound great, but it’s the ruggidization that makes it so interesting. The device can withstand extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, as well as altitude and it is water proof up to 1 meter in depth for more than 30 minutes. It’s also highly customizable, with add-on “backpacks” that provide the ability to take atmospheric reading of temperatures and humidity or even add a built in 3 mega-pixel camera. The details on the backpacks are a bit sketchy at this point, but it sounds like the manufacturer, Roper Mobile has some big plans for adding functionality in this way. The Switchback also comes with built in auto-diagnostic tools to facilitate repairs in the field, something that could be very handy while on an expedition somewhere.
This thing looks like it could be a great edition for explorers on the go who don’t want to give up too much pack space, or carry too much weight, yet still have a device that’s designed to withstand the elements. The interface is certainly unique, and with all the wireless options, you might even be able to play World of Warcraft in your tent on the way to the South Pole. 😉 If anyone over at Roper would like to send me one to test out, I’d be happy to put it through it’s paces!
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