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Archer Field PC Pocket PC Review
Posted on 30-Jun-2006 17:19 by M Freitas | Tags Filed under: Reviews


I have been playing with the Archer Field PC, manufactured by Juniper Systems and distributed here in New Zealand through Lat37. For a rugged Pocket PC, it seems to be genuinely rugged device, and good looking too.


Click for larger picture

Unlike other rugged Pocket PCs, the Archer Field PC looks pretty similar to standard Pocket PCs we see in the market. Reading some of the presentation material I can see the device was designed for easy grip, handling, and durability. It is indeed very easy to hold the device with one hand completely wrapping around it, and with the help of the elastic band attached to its back.

But even if you don't hold it tight, there's little risk: the Archer Field PC resists repeated drops of up to 1.5m into concrete and it is rated waterproof and dustproof (IP67). This rating means it's totally protected against dust ingress and protected against the effects of immersion up to 1m. It is also certified MIL-STD-810F (water, humidity, sand and dust, vibration, altitude, shock) and can work under temperatures ranging from -30C through 50C (-22F to 122F).

Kids, please don't try this at home on your non-rugged Pocket PCs, but I dropped this beauty into the bathtub, and into a bucket. The evidence is clear, and yes, it is still working after the test. You can notice how the Archer was actually on during the tests.


Click for larger picture


Click for larger picture

The entire Pocket PC body is built with a magnesium case, and protected with a thermoplastic elastomer (fancy name for something that felt like rubber). The case is orange, and probably the colour is deliberate, making it very visible in case you drop the Archer in the mud or in the middle of a field.

It is actually quite light, even with battery and screws, weighing about 480g (17 ounces) and measuring 165 x 89 x 43 mm (6.5 x 3.5 x 1.7)


Click for larger picture


Click for larger picture


Click for larger picture

The display is a 3.5" TFT LCD and it is readable even under bright light outdoors.

A very interesting feature on this device (as if everything before is not interesting already) is its Communications Module, located at the bottom. At first I thought I had lost the cover for it, but further inquiries confirmed that the bottom of the device has no cover, but it is still waterproof. This module is actually replaceable and customisable. The standard module comes with:

  • serial port with 5V power on DTR
  • USB host (mini A) to control other devices
  • USB port (mini B) to synchronise information to the desktop via ActiveSync,
  • 12V DC jack for power input and battery charging (wall mount or vehicle charger)

    The battery is another engineering feature: while in place it will keep the connector waterproof, and will provide up to 20 hours of power for the Archer PC. This Li-Ion battery pack can be recharged in about 3 - 4 hours.

    It is possible to connect a digital camera directly to the Archer Field PC. For my test I switched the Nikon D50 to USB Mass Storage Mode, plugged into the Archer Field PC and it showed up in File Explorer as "Hard Disk". As easy as that.

    In addition to the directional pad, you will also find the following keys, all with automatic backlight (an orange glow):
  • Windows Start
  • Return
  • Home
  • Tasks
  • Context menu
  • Power

    The Archer Field PC is based on an Intel PXA 270, at 520MHz. It comes standard with 64MB RAM for running programs and 128MB flash memory for storage. You can increase this by using either Compact Flash or SD cards - this Pocket PC has two slots for this or for some other add-on cards. For example, the model I tested does not have built-in Bluetooth, but it worked just fine with a Socket Bluetooth CF card.


    Click for larger picture

    It runs on Windows Mobile 5.0 (AKU2.0) and comes with all the standard software, such as Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, PowerPoint Viewer, Outlook Mobile, Internet Explorer Mobile and of course Bubble Breaker and Solitaire.

    A very responsive unit, with good and easy to read screen, and fitted for some rough outdoor work.

    Pros
  • Rugged, dustproof and waterproof
  • Runs the latest OS version and build
  • Good looking device (for a rugged one)
  • Backlit keys
  • Relatively light for outdoor use
  • Can connect a digital camera directly to USB port

    Cons
  • This would be a perfect Pocket PC Phone Edition, if cellular functionality was included in the package.






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