Yes sir we’re going to do a nice themed week on Rugged PDA screens and today we’re talking about the history of screens.
If we step back, say about 5 or 6 years when a sleepy Microsoft still kind of ruled the mobile world, or what there was of it, life was simple. QVGA (Quarter VGA) was the order of the day and there were really only 1, maybe 2 physical sizes of LCD too. Now-a-days however the rugged PDA is following in the footsteps of the smartphone with new devices seeing their screens as big way to stand out from other rugged handhelds.
So what changed?
Well to start with all rugged PDA’s pretty much had the same damn screens in them, right down to the make and model, but as time went by we saw rugged PDA manufacturers starting to use different makes and offering new USP’s with them. Firstly we saw QVGA grow into VGA, that’s 240 x 320 turning into 480 x 640 pixels. Despite being physically the same size, this gave app developers 4 times the screen resolution to play with but on a Windows mobile platform it also gave headaches.
However as different manufacturers started to make smaller LCD’s and touch panels we saw more changes with the physical sizes of the screens. The standard 3.5″ that we saw everywhere, from HP iPaqs to early rugged handhelds, made room for devices sporting the smaller size 2.8″ size which many early smartphones adopted in an effort to be smaller. These days however we lots of different physical sizes and shapes with a unique 3.0″ in the Motorola ES400 and a whole plethora of 3.2, 3.5, 3.7, 3.8, 4.0 and even 4.3″ screens. The pressure from our need to replicate the smartphone experience has also meant that we’re seeing WVGA screens (480 x 800) that give a longer more Android/IOS feel to the users.
My Rugged PDA has NITS?
No you don’t need to get the comb out! A nit is basically a measure of the brightness of an LCD screen and until fairly recently we’ve all been happy to shade our rugged PDA from the sunlight. These days however usability is way more important and with ever better and bigger battery technology, being able to actually see what you’re doing on your rugged handheld is as obtainable as ever and seeing the NIT values on spec sheets now is becoming commonplace.
To touch or not to touch
The rugged world always been dominated by Windows Mobile or CE but this is also changing. Despite earlier Android rugged PDA’s having touch screens, Android really demands that a capacitive screen is present and these days many of the capacitive screens in use simply don’t suffer from the problems we see in the rugged market. They work in the wet and they’re not expensive any longer and the benefit is that they give a far better experience offering the app in use many more ways to interact with users. The capacitive screen is here to stay for the time being at least!
So there we have it. Not quite a brief history in time but at least a little history of Rugged LCD screens to kick us off. We’ll be talking more about screens all this week with what you should look for in an LCD when buying a rugged PDA.