Hardware Review: Juniper’s Mesa Rugged Notepad
Professional Surveyor Magazine - May 2011
J. Craig Brewer, PLS
The Mesa Rugged Notepad is the first notepad to be offered from Juniper Systems
. It bridges the gap between handheld mobile devices and tablet PCs. That being said, the Mesa is ergonomically designed to fit comfortably in your hand. The Mesa’s screen is the largest to be found on a Windows Mobile device. The 5.7-inch active display provides plenty of room to arrange shortcuts on the desktop and gives plenty of room to work. As stated in Juniper Systems’ promotional material, it has “the advantages of both a tablet PC and a rugged handheld computer, without the disadvantages of either.”
Juniper Systems was founded in 1993 and has quickly established itself as a leader in super-rugged, handheld computing solutions. All Juniper Systems’ products are designed, produced, and serviced at their facility in Logan, Utah. Juniper makes the popular Allegro data collector; I’ve been an Allegro user for several years and have been very pleased with its performance.
The Mesa is available in three models: standard, Geo, and Geo 3G. The standard model comes loaded with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Geo adds 2- to 5-meter GPS and a 3.2-megapixel camera with image geo-tagging. The Geo 3G includes all of these, plus a 3G GSM data modem. I was provided with a Mesa Geo 3G for this review.
The Mesa is driven by an 806 MHz PXA320 processor, 256 MB RAM, and Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system. Data storage is provided by 4 GB of internal flash memory, and an SD card slot allows removable storage if needed. The Mesa is powered by two lithium-ion batteries that keep it running for 16 hours on a single charge. If that is not enough juice for you, the batteries are warm swappable. The Mesa charges to full power in less than four hours. Ports and connections are located along the bottom of the Mesa and include a USB mini B type client, USB standard type host, 9-pin serial port, microphone/headphone jack, and a 12-volt DC jack.
The Mesa’s home screen allows you to customize it for the way you work and your most used applications in a finger-friendly dashboard. User-defined shortcuts and a host of gadgets help you control wireless connections, GPS, texting, email, calendar, and power functions.
As with Juniper Systems’ other products, the Mesa is built to withstand the most extreme working conditions and is rated IP-67 and MIL-STD-810G. That’s very impressive, but what does that mean? The IP rating system is a standard for rating resistance to solids and liquids. The first number rates resistance to solids such as dust and sand on a scale of 0 to 6. A 0 indicates no protection and a 6 indicates full protection. The second number rates resistance to liquids, mainly water, on a scale of 0 to 7. Again, 0 indicates no protection while 7 indicates protection from full immersion at depths between 15 centimeters to 1 meter. The IP-67 rating means the Mesa is fully waterproof and fully dustproof.
The MIL-STD-810G is a standard of testing developed by the United States military that replicates the effects of environmental conditions throughout the product’s service life. The MIL-STD-810G standard means the Mesa has been designed and tested to withstand water, humidity, sand, dust, vibration, altitude, shock, and temperature. As if that were not enough, the Mesa’s housing is made from magnesium and impact-resistant plastics that protect it from drops on concrete up to four feet.
I wanted to see how the Mesa would be beneficial on a typical survey job, nothing complex or exciting. I chose to test it on a FEMA Flood Elevation Certificate. I know you may be beginning to yawn right now, but this is a great example of how cutting-edge devices can help us complete our tasks faster and better. If I may borrow an old saying, “work smarter, not harder." I plugged my thumb drive into the Mesa’s USB host and opened the elevation certificate template. The columns were a bit jumbled when I zoomed in, but I could easily fill in the blanks. I was also able to use the Mesa’s integrated GPS receiver to get a position in front of the house. The GPS receiver provides 2- to 5-meter mapping-grade positions with the help of SBAS (satellite-based augmentation system) corrections. Positions of this quality greatly exceed the elevation certificate requirements. The Mesa’s integrated camera is another great feature. The large screen helps me to be sure I’m getting the details I need. I also like to take a picture of my field book notes and save it in the job file with the house pictures and the certificate.
Using the MESA’s internet connection, I hopped on the county GIS website and looked up my property. They link parcel info to the county tax records. I was also able to look up my address on FEMA’s website and find the current map and panel. I made a firmette and saved it to my thumb drive. Using the MESA, I was able to gather the necessary property data, insert the pictures, and complete the elevation certificate, all before leaving the jobsite. This allowed me to address any questions while I was there and potentially save an extra trip.
This is just one example of how the Mesa can be used to save time and improve quality control. With so many computer applications and internet resources available to us, the Mesa is a great tool for accessing the data we need at the time and place we need it.
About the Author
J. Craig Brewer, PLSJ. Craig Brewer, PLS is owner of Brewer Land Surveying in Savannah, Georgia. He has over 15 years of experience and is a licensed professional surveyor in Georgia and South Carolina.
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