Panasonic debuts rugged handheld

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Panasonic says the latest member of its Toughbook family of rugged mobile computers, the U1, combines the small, light form factor of a traditional handheld device with the computing functionality of a Windows XP- or Vista-based laptop.

With its multiple integrated features, the rugged U1 is designed to work in environments like in-cab computing, vehicle service bays, insurance adjusting, railroad yards, docks, warehouses, yard management, oil and gas refineries, manufacturing facilities, construction sites and mining operations. Panasonic says the device is extremely rugged and will work in rain, snow and extreme heat.

Features of the new Toughbook U1 include an integrated camera, GPS, barcode scanner or RFID reader, and wireless connectivity (3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi), according to the company; the U1 also has a hot-swappable battery design that allows a user to change a battery without turn the system off.