IT Pro Verdict
When the going gets tough, people need a ruggedised navigation device that they can rely on. And one that doesn’t require its own Winnebago either. Thankfully the Getac PS535F both impressive and portable. It does come with quite a high price tag, but we think it’s well worth the outlay.
Windows Mobile might not be flavour of the moment when it comes to consumer mobile phones, but when it comes to specialist applications, it still has a lot of appeal.
One reason for that appeal is the huge range of devices that run on Windows Mobile. Getac's PS535F, for instance, which runs Microsoft's Windows Mobile 6.1 Classic operating system, is designed with GIS field work in mind. It's rough and tough, and will go places consumer devices such as an iPhone won't go.
It certainly feels built to last. Clad in thick, heavy-duty plastic with rubber corners and trim, the PS535F is independently rated to IP54 and the US military standard MIL-STD 810F, which means, though you can't immerse it completely in water, it'll survive a fair amount of abuse. You can drop it from a height of 1.52m, and chill it to -20 degrees Centigrade among other things, without doing it any serious damage.
To prove it, we poured a glass of water over it, put it in the freezer for 20 minutes, dropped it on the floor and generally treated it with contempt. It came through with flying colours with nary a scratch. And, as a bonus, this PDA isn't that bulky or heavy either, measuring a utility-belt friendly 144 x 82 x 29mm and weighing 300g we've used portable, ruggedised PDAs before, but none that are this light or compact.
The controls also feel tough, without being awkward to operate, with four sturdy buttons flanking a large, inset joystick. And, all the flaps covering the SDHC card slot and 3.5mm headphone socket on the left and the mini-USB and mains input socket on the bottom edge are either rubber sealed or screwed firmly into place.
What really sets this PDA apart from the crowd, however, are its navigational features. It comes equipped with a 20-channel SirfSTAR III GPS radio not unusual in this day and age, you might think but unusually it's also SBAS-enabled, which means it can take advantage of EGNOS the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay service.
It's a system that uses ground-based transmitter stations to enhance the accuracy of GPS so that (principally) aircraft can use it safely. In the case of this PDA, where you can receive the EGNOS signal (usually in open spaces), its means the accuracy of position the PS535F receives can be precise to within two metres, compared to an accuracy of around 20m for GPS; critical for industrial applications where accuracy is paramount.