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Roper Mobile Techology Switchback UMPC

Updated on March 26, 2008

I know that I have said this before in other articles, but I’m still not sure why the UMPC (Ultra-Mobile Personal Computer) market has not “taken off”. Perhaps it is because many of them are too fragile, and it would be a tragedy if all your valuable information got lost simply because you sat on it wrong.

At CES Las Vegas this year, I saw an UMPC that I could not believe. Most UMPCs are small, and don’t really look like much, but this Switchback was bulky, almost too bulky. As you can see, the Switchback pushes the envelope of being defined as a UMPC, but is certainly no wuss when it comes to durability.

The demonstration was not to be forgotten as the man who was showing the Switchback just casually tossed it over his shoulder as a litterbug would trash. That definitely got my attention, because he didn’t seem to worry about cracking the screen or anything.

The Switchback is designed to be used out in the field. And when I say “the field”, this means everyone from outdoorsmen to firemen, and anyone in the military. In short, the Switchback is a laptop not designed to stay on the lap, but get down and dirty.

It can do this with its patented “backpack” technology, which allows a user to configure the Switchback for pretty much anything. A Standard Backpack comes with a PCMCIA Card Slot, USB Port, Serial Port, VGA Output, Audio Line In and Line out. There is also the option for Custom Backpacks, which include features such as a Digital Camera, Mag-Stripe reader, Barcode or RFID Scanner, Graphics Card, Biometric Readers, Compact Flash, High Def Audio, as well as other Custom Communications Devices.

Even without the customized backpack technology, the Switchback is full of terrific features such as a Sunlight Viewable Display as well as Integrated Wireless of 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0, and GPS. As for the user interface, it has a QWERTY thumb keyboard, a built-in pointing device, plus a passive 5.6 inch touchscreen. As far as the operating system is concerned, a user can use Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista, Windows CE, and Linux.

More features include two things that are easily swappable and removable. The first is the hard drive, which allows a user to stow away sensitive data. The other is the quick change battery packs, which allow for an endless power by changing them before a need to restart.

Unfortunately, the website doesn’t really have a clear release date or price. I plan to update this report as soon as I get it.

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