Handheld unveils Nautiz X3

Rugged computing specialist Handheld has unveiled its latest creation, the Nautiz X3 hand-held PDA-stroke-smartphone - and, as you might expect, it can take a serious pounding.

Designed for data collection tasks where traditional smartphones fear to tread, the Nautiz X3 joins the Algiz XRW netbook in Handheld's range of portable devices for those who work in dangerous conditions - or who are particularly clumsy when it comes to portable electronics.

Built around an X-Scale processor running at 806MHz and featuring 256MB of RAM and 512MB of integrated non-volatile storage, it's not the most impressively powerful portable device on the market - but its small 150 x 67 x 25mm dimensions and 260g weight belie its real selling point: it's damn-near indestructible.

Certified to MIL-STD-810G standard and with an IP65 immersion rating, the Nautiz X3 is built to withstand repeated drops from 1.8 metres and immersion in shallow water without flinching - so no more having to hide your gadget when the rain clouds appear.

To further the device's capabilities as field data collection unit, the Nautiz X3 includes in-built GPS, altimeter, shock-sensor, and electronic compass - and a Bluetooth radio for connection to external sensors. A 3.0 megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash is located on the rear, and there's even a barcode-scanning laser - although you'll need an optional upgrade to support 2D codes.

Connectivity is taken care of by the aforementioned Bluetooth radio, integrated Wi-Fi, and 3G mobile broadband - which should mean it can transmit your findings back home from pretty much anywhere.

Sadly, there always have to be compromises when you make portable devices rugged - and in the case of the Nautiz X3, it's the screen. While it's a fully-functional touchscreen, located above a physical number pad for ease of data entry in the field, it's a mere 2.8-inch in size - and a rather outdated 320 x 240 resolution to boot.

Jerker Hellström, Handheld's chief executive, is nonetheless proud of his company's creation. Speaking regarding the Nautiz X3 launch, Hellström said that "it's a unique product today's market - a handheld PDA that's smaller and lighter than most similar computing tools, and yet it still meets IP65 and MIL-STD-810G standards."

If you're constantly trashing your hardware, the Nautiz X3 could be worth looking at - but, as with the company's other products, be prepared to pay a significant premium for a near-unbreakable device. The base model, with 1D barcode scanner, is a whopping £723, and the version with 2D barcode imager will set you back £819 - meaning that this gadget is one for the big-budget projects only.

If the price hasn't scared you off, here's a high-resolution action shot to whet your appetite while you look down the back of the sofa for change: