World-wide exclusive: Hands-on with the Trimble Nomad!

Earlier today, TDS (Tripod Data Systems, a subsidiary of Trimble Navigation LTD) announced the Trimble Nomad, their newest rugged Pocket PC. We were honored to receive an exclusive hands-on preview of the product prior to the event, and after using it for a few days, I'd like to offer a "first look" at my experiences with the device.

The Trimble Nomad
Trimble Nomad: the latest rugged Windows Mobile device from Trimble Navigation LTD.

The Trimble Nomad is slightly larger than the TDS TerraGuide (which I reviewed in the Feb/Mar 2006 issue of Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine). That unit was so good, that I recommended everyday users examine this device if they were considering "journeying to the wild places of the world and need a device that they can depend on." Unfortunately, the TDS TerraGuide ran Windows Mobile 2003, in a world where Windows Mobile 5 devices were dominating the market. With the new Trimble Nomad, TDS has completely turned that problem around by being an early adopter of Windows Mobile 6!

But the operating system isn't the only way that TDS has decided to come out with "all guns blazing." They've done everything within their power to make the Nomad a best-in-class device, including implementing a blisteringly-fast 806 MHz processor. This device is so fast, that I honestly could not believe how quickly it responded while navigating around the Windows Mobile OS and running even the most processor-intensive applications.

Next up is the portrait-oriented 480x640 pixel VGA screen. As you might know, Windows Mobile 6 is becoming the platform for full-VGA displays. And the Nomad is the poster-child for a display that really impresses. The use of full VGA resolution will be essential for enterprise applications that utilize road, topographical or satellite maps, display digital photographs or simply demand a higher-resolution display. Although the Transflective TFT screen doesn't top some of the best RTFT displays I've ever seen, it is still completely usable in broad daylight applications.

Finally, the Nomad features embedded technologies that make this device absolutely invaluable. The base model Nomad 800B includes Bluetooth wireless communications, while the next higher model, Nomad 800L adds 802.11g networking and GPS technologies. The 800LC model also incorporates a 2 megapixel digital camera and the top-end 800LE adds a digital bar code scanner.

Like previous units from Trimble, the Nomad is MILSTD-810F certified to withstand impacts, vibration, humidity, altitude and extreme temperatures and has an IP67 rating to certify it is completely sealed against dust, and can withstand a 30 minute immersion in one meter of water. The Nomad also features all of the refinements of the previous generations of TDS Windows Mobile devices, including a custom battery logger application, compatibility with the incredibly-well conceived Powerboot module accessories and a stylus with a spring-loaded tip.

Speaking of the stylus, I was delighted to find that it serves two purposes. One end is a plastic-tipped, spring-loaded stylus while the other end features a rubber cap that, when removed, reveals a metal phillips head screwdriver. This is designed to fit the four screws that secure the Lithium Ion battery to the back of the Nomad, so that you can field-swap batteries without any extra tools. Best of all, the stylus is composed almost entirely of metal (the stylus tip is plastic to prevent damage to the touch-screen) and attaches magnetically to the back of the Nomad.

The Nomad Stylus
The Nomad stylus features a spring-loaded plastic tip for writing on one end and a phillips head screwdriver underneath a soft rubber cap on the other.

For more information on the Trimble Nomad, stay-tuned for my in-depth review in the next issue of Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine. If you cannot wait until then, the Nomad 800B (with 512 MB Flash memory and Bluetooth) and 800L (1 GB Flash memory, GPS, Bluetooth and 802.11g wireless) are available for purchase right now. The Nomad 800LC (1 GB Flash memory, GPS, Bluetooth, 802.11g and digital camera) and 800LE (1 GB Flash memory, GPS, Bluetooth, 802.11g, digital camera and bar code laser scanner) should be available next month. They will range in price from $1,699 to $2,499. More information is available in the press release on page 2 of this blog entry, or by visiting the Trimble Nomad Handheld Computer product page.

Trimble Introduces Nomad Rugged Handheld Computer with 806 MHz Processor, VGA Display, Integrated GPS, Wireless and Optical Capabilities

Feature-Packed Outdoor Rugged Handheld Offers Integrated Bar Code Scanner, Digital Camera Options and Up to 1 GB Flash Memory

SUNNYVALE, Calif., July 17, 2007 — Trimble (NASDAQ:TRMB) introduced today its most versatile and feature-packed rugged mobile devices to date—the Nomad™ series of handheld computers. The Nomad comes standard with an 806 MHz processor, 128 MB of memory and integrated Bluetooth technology. In addition, a range of optional configurations are available including an integrated Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, a bar code scanner, a digital camera, and 802.11g (WiFi). The Nomad’s design and features make it a powerful mobile computing solution for public safety, land surveying, field service, engineering and construction, utilities, mapping, military and other outdoor or service-related applications.

With Trimble’s Nomad handheld computer, users can easily collect, save and transmit data while in the field. Integrated GPS gives users location data for navigation. Users can also collect bar code information with the Nomad’s integrated laser scanner as well as capture color images for inspections and maintenance with the 2-megapixel digital camera. Plus, users can take advantage of the Nomad’s CompactFlash (CF) and Secure Digital (SDIO) slots to add more devices such as memory and RFID.

In addition to its standard built-in features and range of options, the Nomad handheld computer offers top-of-the-line performance with a 5200 mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery, up to 1 GB of Flash memory and a daylight-visible VGA touch screen display. The battery provides users with 15 hours or more of active use without a recharge. The Nomad’s VGA display is sharp and clear in sunlight, presenting maps and other graphic-intensive files in better detail than a typical QVGA display. It also comes with Windows Mobile® 6, the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system for mobile devices.

“The Nomad has several features—including the 800 MHz processor, a full VGA display and Windows Mobile 6—that truly qualify it as best in class,†said Dale Kyle, rugged handhelds product manager for Tripod Data Systems, a Trimble company. “Combining the Nomad’s rugged design with these features makes it an ideal choice for field-to-office connectivity to increase productivity.â€

The Nomad series of rugged handheld computers will be available in four configurations:

  • 800B – the standard configuration with 512 MB Flash memory and Bluetooth
  • 800L – 1 GB Flash memory, GPS, Bluetooth and 802.11g
  • 800LC - 1 GB Flash memory, GPS, Bluetooth, 802.11g and digital camera
  • 800LE – 1 GB Flash memory, GPS, Bluetooth, 802.11g, digital camera and bar code laser scanner

As with other Trimble rugged handheld computers, the Nomad series meets the MIL-STD-810F standard for drops, vibration and temperature extremes. It also comes with an IP67 rating, which means it is completely sealed against dust and can survive immersion in up to a meter of water for approximately 30 minutes. Weighing just 21 ounces (595 grams), the Nomad is shaped to fit comfortably in a user’s hand.

The Nomad 800B and 800L are available now. The Nomad 800LC and 800LE are expected to be available in August 2007. The Nomad series of handheld computers are priced from US$1,699 to US$2,499 MSRP.

About Trimble

Trimble applies technology to make field and mobile workers in businesses and government significantly more productive. Solutions are focused on applications requiring position or location—including surveying, construction, agriculture, fleet and asset management, public safety and mapping. In addition to utilizing positioning technologies, such as GPS, lasers and optics, Trimble solutions may include software content specific to the needs of the user. Wireless technologies are utilized to deliver the solution to the user and to ensure a tight coupling of the field and the back office. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., Trimble has a worldwide presence with more than 3,400 employees in over 18 countries.

For more information about Trimble outdoor rugged handheld computers, visit, e-mail handhelds [at] trimble [dot] com or call 541-750-9200.

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