Around the time I was hoping to swap my Olivetti typewriter for one of those new-fangled Apple Macintosh things, Seiko also created the UC-2000 wrist computer. The images of the device docked onto a QWERTY keyboard strapped to someone's arm still raise a smile even now. That was decades ago, and the industry has moved forward at an incredible pace, but Eurotech's new Zypad WL1500 definitely has the look of the Seiko. Happily, the technology in the new Zypad is much more up-to-date. Eurotech says that it's faster and lighter than other members of its wearable range, and also benefits from a longer battery life and numerous communication options.

The new IP54-rated Zypad WL1500 will operate in temperatures ranging from -20 to +50 degrees C (-4 to 122 degrees F), and has a storage temperature range of -30 to +50 degrees C (-22 to 122 degrees F). Weighing about a pound, the wrist computer is powered by a Marvell PXA320 processor, has 128MB of mobile SDRAM memory and 128MB onboard Flash. There's microSD card expansion, a USB device port and a USB host port. The device supports several cellular communication protocols including 3G, GSM/GPRS/CMDA/EDGE and UMTS, and also benefits from 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, either Bluetooth or Zigbee. It also has built-in GPS.

A 12-key keyboard (basically a number pad with extra confirm and cancel keys) sits on top, with a 3.5-inch, 320 x 240 resolution resistive touchscreen underneath. There's a mono speaker and a built-in microphone, with an audio input included so that users can plug in an external mic. Its battery, which can be swapped out by the user without losing any data, is said to be good for at least an eight hour shift, and additional options include an integrated barcode scanner for applications such as transportation or inventory management, and external ring scanner.

If this product was meant for the consumer market, then it would undoubtedly need to look more like a watch phone than the industrial, clunky device which appears to date back to a time when we innocently thought that 128KB of RAM was spacious. However, Eurotech's main markets are likely to be emergency search and rescue, medical, homeland security, law enforcement, logistics, maintenance and transportation, where the practical is more important than aesthetics.

The Zypad WL1500 is due for a Q2 release and will initially come with Windows CE 6.0 support. At the time of writing, there's no word on pricing.

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