Articles

Industrial Panel PCs – a solution for fixed position or mounted touch screen ideas

When Tablet Technologies was founded in 2008 there was no iPad yet (not for another 2 years!) and if you searched online for “tablet” the results were for online prescriptions. The word “tablet” as it is used most commonly today was not yet in the vernacular. Fast forward 6 years and what is interesting now is that the word “tablet” has become the go-to idea for any touch screen larger than a phone. This has its pros and its cons.

We are frequently asked for a tablet that will be used in a fixed position, preferably with wired Ethernet and robust enough to be used by numerous staff or even the general public. It’s completely understandably that when people are considering hardware for these types of project that they begin looking for a suitable “tablet”. In fact the awareness of tablets is likely the inspiration for many projects involving a touch screen or even just a screen without touch.

We’re glad for these enquiries of course and whenever a device is going to be in a fixed/mounted position we suggest a Panel PC. The reasons for this are numerous:

  • Our panel PCs can be directly VESA mounted at the rear just like a flat screen TV so there is no need for a mount/dock/cradle etc and no theft concern. Open-frame options are also available
  • Fascias can be button-less with all cabling recessed and out of the way at the rear
  • Ingress protected screens as standard, optionally fully waterproof solutions
  • Construction is from anodized stainless steel providing a robust and industrial solution
  • Internal components are all solid state and industrial grade resulting in a fanless solution suitable for 100% duty cycling, i.e. true 24x7x365 operation
  • Features not typically available on tablets such as wired Ethernet connections are standard
  • Much wider selection of visual display size/aspect/brightness from 7” to 50”
  • Bespoke design available from 5 units

Traditionally Panel PCs and industrial computing has been based around the Intel/x86 platform running a Windows OS. Increasingly however we are finding that customers are moving to apps that can run inside a browser or are in some other way platform independent and in some cases apps that are written directly for Android. In these scenarios both the Intel platform and Windows OS are superfluous and carry a higher cost. For this reason we began investing in the design and development of Android Panel PCs. In doing so we have made sure to maintain all of the advantages of Panel PCs listed above. Fortunately, embedded platform specialists “VIA Technologies” produce industrial embedded ARM motherboards with Android OS meaning that in creating an Android Panel PC we don’t have to make any concessions like relying on consumer grade technology. The result is a growing range of Android Panel PCs and gladly a growing number of customers interested in them.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of Panel PCs is the possibility for bespoke projects on a small scale. Generally speaking the products are modular so changing the specification as well as removing and adding features is easy to accommodate. Unlike working in plastics which require expensive moulds and high minimum production quantities, with stainless steel we have to cut out each PC chassis one-by-one on a computer controlled cutting machine. We now have an in-house design team meaning we can rapidly turn your unique ideas into technical drawings and finished products on very short lead times. Perhaps of greatest benefit to our customers is that we don’t charge for this design service, it’s all part of our service to get the right device for your project.

If you have an idea you want to create, please get in touch.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *