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The TREK-775 is an industrial vehicle mounted
computer made by Advantech, the seasoned
Taiwanese embedded and industrial computing
maker that is seeking to expand its position in
the US and other markets. Founded more than
25 years ago by three ex-Hewlett Packard
engineers, Advantech provides a wide variety of
computing platforms, web-based technologies,
and customization services in embedded &
industrial computing, eServices & applied
computing, and industrial automation.
Advantech has over 3,000 employees and a
growing international sales, marketing and
support network. The company sells either
directly or works with third parties to provide
complete computing solutions for various
industries, including medical computing,
industrial Tablet PCs, panels, rugged handhelds,
and vehicle mounted computers like the
Advantech TREK-775 featured here.
Design goals for a vehicle mount
like the Advantech TREK-775
The Advantech TREK-775 is a computer created to be used in vehicles ranging from forklifts
to trucks to tanks. It is not a mobile computer
that you carry around and then insert into a
vehicle cradle; it is designed to be mounted
inside a vehicle and be used there. Its intended
application is in warehouses, docks, container
yards and even freezers. Since the vehicles the
TREK-775 will be used in may operate in harsh
environmental conditions, the TREK is a
rugged device that can handle extreme conditions. It’s also a premium device with a fanless
cast aluminum enclosure and sporting an
elegant industrial design.
Computers like the TREK-775 are primarily
used to run custom applications for specific
tasks. While they can support limited functionality as general purpose computers (and
you can run standard Windows XP on the
TREK-775), these machines generally use
embedded operating systems such as Windows XP Embedded and Windows CE, and the
TREK-775 is no exception. This means that
the machine has very modest hardware requirements and generates very little heat. The
TREK-775 is able to get by with a 600MHz
Intel Celeron M or, if full Windows XP is required, a 1.1GHz Pentium M processor.
Machines like the TREK-775 also do not
need the very latest in chipsets, special features and connectivity options. So do not
expect integrated vidcams, superhigh resolution or advanced audio. Instead, everything is
engineered for the job at hand. Operation
must be as simple as possible so as not to
distract. Controls must be large and handy.
Interfaces must be easily accessible and support whatever peripherals customers in the
field are likely to have a need for. However,
despite all that, the machine must also be able
to handle the latest technologies. Not an easy
task at all. How did Advantech go about it?
Using an embedded OS: Windows
XP Embedded and Windows CE 5.0
The key to understanding computers like the
TREK-775 and what they offer is in understanding the difference between a general
purpose operating system and an embedded
operating system.
General purpose operating systems such as
Windows XP or Windows Vista are just that,
designed for general purpose computing. You
can run anything you want on it and so Microsoft equipped Windows XP and Vista with
all the drivers and software and utilities users
could possibly need. As a result, they are large
operating system with numerous processes
and services running all the time, all consuming large amounts of memory and power.
Embedded (also known as “componentized”) operating systems are totally different.
The central idea of an embedded OS is to only
include what is needed to perform a limited
set of tasks and leave everything else behind.
This dramatically reduces the size of the
operating system and equally dramatically
reduces hardware requirements. Windows XP
Embedded is generally used for smart, connected and service-oriented commercial and
consumer devices that do not need all of
Windows XP, yet can still run thousands of
existing Windows applications.
Embedded operating systems are not onesize-fits all. A manufacturer and service
provider like Advantech will determine what a
system is for and what tasks it should be able
to perform. They then include just those
components they need (there are over 10,000
available) to create a lean embedded OS platform that doesn’t take much space or
resources but still does sophisticated tasks
like multimedia, browsing, communications
or whatever an application requires. Essentially you get the power of Windows XP, but
without any unneeded overhead.
Don’t ever make the mistake of using conventional benchmarks to select an embedded
systems machine. Benchmarks measure raw
power, but not how efficiently that power is
put to use. A machine like our review TREK775 with its 600 MHz Celeron M processor and
256MB of RAM is hardly a benchmark queen,
but it's quick and responsive at what it does,
and that is the whole point of an embedded
system computer.
So why does Advantech also offer Windows
CE 5.0? Unlike XP Embedded, Windows CE
only supports a subset of the full Windows
API but it is a supremely compact and effi-
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cient scalable operating system with plenty of
programming support. And since Windows
CE’s multi-threaded, multi-tasking, fully preemptive OS environment was designed from
the start for hardware with extremely limited
resources, Windows CE has become the OS of
choice for many streamlined field applications
and is able to create a CE image for just about
any application, making the creation of customized software even simpler.
To provide an idea of the resources needed,
a Windows CE-based TREK-775 requires just
128MB of RAM and 128MB of Flash to provide
speedy performance on a 600MHz Celeron M
processor. An XP Embedded version may use
the same 600MHz Celeron M on either 4GB of
Flash or a 40GB hard disk. A machine running
the full version of Windows XP will likely
come with the 1.1GHz Pentium M processor
and a 40GB hard disk.
Enhanced Write Filter
The TREK-775 comes with a utility called the
Enhanced Write Filter, or EWF. This is an
interesting feature supported by the XP Embedded operating system.
EWF redirects write operations to another
storage location and totally write-protects the
run-time image, thus preventing any damage
that might be
caused by an
power failure,
vibration or
even a virus
To learn more about this particular feature
of XP Embedded, read the Enhanced Write
Filter section on the Microsoft Embedded
Developer Center.)
That said, let’s take a look at this interesting
Uncompromising design
While mobile computers are carried around
and therefore must be light and handy, the
design requirements for a vehicle mounted
computer are very different. Ruggedness,
reliability, utility and ease of use are the primary goals. To that extent, Advantech’s engineers and designers created a fanless aluminum enclosure with integrated fins for
cooling and 12 industry-standard mounting
holes. The TREK-775 measures 12.2 x 9.9 x 2.9
inches and weighs 8.8 pounds. The housing is
rock-solid and is painted matte black. The
image below shows the front and all four sides
of the TREK-775.
The TREK-775’s display is a Mitsubishi TFT
LCD measuring 10.4 inches diagonally. It has
800 x 600 pixel SVGA resolution and can
display 256k colors. Horizontal viewing angle
is an excellent 140 degrees. The vertical view-
ing angle is 110 degrees, which is still sufficient in a vehicle mount. Advantech rates the
LCD’s mean time between failure at 50,000
hours. If the display were on 24 hours per day
every day, that’d still be 5.7 years. The backlight is rated to have the same lifespan. Unlike
Tablet PCs that often have a variety of hardware controls along the edge of the display, the
TREK-775 has just one. You can increase and
decrease screen brightness via two large integrated buttons.
As stated above, the engine compartment
contains components that, while several
generations removed from Intel’s state-of-theart, are tried-and-true, universally supported,
and totally reliable. Our machine came with a
600 MHz ULV Celeron M with 512KB of L2
cache on its PCM-9689 motherboard. Also
available is a 1.1GHz LV Pentium M chip. Both
models use a Award Flash BIOS that’s ACPI 2.0
compliant and run a 400 MHz frontside bus.
Our machine managed to run Embedded XP
quickly and effortlessly on just 256MB of RAM
and a 4GB 233X RiDATA Compact Flash card.
We actually ran performance benchmarks
both with 256MB of RAM and with a full
gigabyte. The difference was less than two
percent. This highly efficient machine simply
does not need more RAM with the embedded
OS, and putting more in does not improve
performance (though playing with paging file
size in the Windows Systems Properties>
Advanced> Performance Settings>
Advanced> Virtual Memory panel may make a
Despite the IP65 sealing, the TREK-775 can
be easily opened by undoing nine Philips
screws. This provides ready access for field
maintenance, upgrades, and component
switches or repair. However, do make certain
that the rubber O-ring seal is present and
properly in place when the unit is closed
again. Else there will be no good seal.
In the picture below you can see how the
TREK-775 provides easy access to all components. There is plenty of room, too. All rugged
systems should be so easily expandable and
easy to work on.
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Touch panel
The Advantech TREK-775 uses an analog
resistive touchscreen with a USB interface and
AMT as well as Dynapro/3M MicroTouch
technology. It is a heavy-duty unit that is rated
at over ten million depressions. The resistive
touch screen can be operated either with any
stylus or with a finger. It is fairly smudge-resistant—a small thing, but a quality that comes
in handy.
According to Advantech, the impact-resistant, scratch-resistant touchscreen offers 80%
light transmission. There’s
antiglare treatment as well,
making the
TREK-775 more
pleasant to use in
varying lighting
The unit comes
with a PenMount
Control Panel
that let's you
calibrate the
using 4, 9, 16, or 25 points, with 25 points
offering maximum accuracy. A “Draw” mode
provides digitizer statistics and can be used
for debugging. An option menu lets you set
the operation mode either to stream mode or
point mode.
In the panel’s option menu you can also
enable a beep sound to occur on pen down or
pen up (or both), and even set its frequency
and duration. This may sound strange, but in
noisy vehicle operation, having auditory feedback to confirm a touch operation may come
in handy.
Compared to some of the other rugged
Advantech machines we’ve seen, the TREK’s
touchscreen does not have the elaborate edge
compensation controls that allow you to
precisely define edge compensation for all four
sides, i.e., set it so the cursor thinks the edge is
either farther away or closer in. No big deal,
but it may come in handy.
The TREK-775 does not have a battery and
runs on vehicle power instead. The vehicles in
which a TREK-775 computer is usually installed run on 12, 34 or 48 Volt DC power, and
the TREK can handle anything between six
and 58 Volts.
Vehicle mounted computers without a main
battery can be wired into the vehicle’s electricity in various ways. You would not, for example, want for the computer to continue drawing power when the vehicle has been shut
down or else you’d deplete the vehicle battery.
You also do not want for the computer to be
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abruptly shut down when the ignition is
turned off. The answer is a power off delay
which keeps the machine running for 30
seconds once the ignition has been turned off.
The computer uses that time to shut down
gracefully. Likewise, there are fail-saves that
shut down the computer when vehicle voltage
drops below a certain level and automatically
reboots the system when the voltage once
again exceeds a pre-set threshold.
The TREK can also be either linked to the
ignition switch or use its own on-off switch.
All those power settings are determined via
motherboard jumpers. The power cord carries
six leads that facilitate not only the common
negative and positive voltages, but also
ground and vehicle ignition.
Wireless and expansion
The Advantech TREK-775 can be equipped
with a 802.11a/b/g mini-PCI WiFi module that
can either be controlled by the standard Windows Zero Configuration utility or also via the
substantially more comprehensive and welldocumented Advantech/RaLink Intelligent
Wireless Utility. The Intelligent Wireless Utility is a tool for advanced users who want to
have precise control over their wireless setup.
Link Status shows speed, link quality, signal
strength and noise level.
I Site Survey shows all networks in the vicinity with all their characteristics.
I Statistics can be used to detect network
I Advanced can be used to set the WiFi mode,
channels, country codes and various parameters.
I A special WMM panel controls wireless
If you want to stay with the standard Microsoft setup, the Intelligent Wireless Utility
can still provide a variety of monitoring functions without interfering with the Windows
Zero configuration or profiles.
In order to provide exceptional reception,
the TREK-775 has a gold-plated connector for
an external antenna.
An optional module adapter board with
SIM card slot can include both GPS and
GSM/GPRS modules. The housing accommodates an external antenna.
Bluetooth is not specifically listed, but I
assume it can be made available via expansion
board or module.
Interface and connectivity
Internally, the TREK-755 has an IDE interface
for the hard disk (Ultra DMA 33/66/100) and a
50-pin socket that supports a solid state disk
via CompactFlash. A mini-PCI bus expansion
slot accepts a Type III mini PCI card.
The TREK-775 supports both serial and
USB connection. There are two USB 2.0 jacks
and no less than four 9-pin DB25 connectors.
Two of them are standard RS232, the other
two support US232/422/485. The reason for
the four serial ports is that many peripherals
used in the field still use this type of interface,
and not USB. There are also two PS/2 ports,
one for a keyboard and one for a mouse. An
RJ45 jacks provides wired 10/100-BaseT Ethernet local area network connectivity. There are
two PC Card Type II slots. The power switch
carries the same IP65 rating as the front and
sides of the housing. It has a screw-lock so
that it cannot come loose.
The graphics subsystem uses the Intel
855GME chipset that uses system memory for
variable size frame buffers (up to 64MB).
In terms of ruggedness, the aluminum enclosure without any ventilation holes or other
ports provides IP65 sealing and is NEMA4
compliant. However, things are different in a
vehicle mount; the IP65 rating applies to every
surface of the TREK-775 except for the bottom
with its bank of exposed connectors. If not in
use, the connector banks could easily be
sealed and there are, in fact, predrilled holes.
Standard operating temperature is 32 to 104
degrees Fahrenheit for hard disk-based units.
Industrial grade hard disks designed for wider
temperature ranges can be used as well, and
they will extend the operating temperature
range. Compact Flash-based models have an
extremely wide operating temperature range
of -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Vehicle-mount units must be able to absorb
significant shock and vibration. The TREK-775
can handle 30G peak acceleration shock (11
Advantech_TREK_775:Layout 1
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millisecond test pulse) operating, as well as 1G
RMS random vibration from 5 to 500 Hertz for
hard disk models and 3G for Flash-based
models (tested for one hour in all three axis).
The machine has even be tested on how it
survives extreme handling during shipping in
its box, and whether it survives a 3-foot drop
in its box on each corner. The picture below
shows one of the vibration tests.
A ruggedness testing report shows an Advantech TREK-776 (almost the same unit,
12.1-inch display) was subjected to a 24-hour
dry heat testing at 113 degrees Fahrenheit and
a high temperature 24-hour test at 150 degrees, both of which the machine passed. It
also passed a 24-hour low temperature test at
23 degrees with a hard disk model and a 24hour test at -13 degrees Fahrenheit with a CF
Card model. These were all operating mode
test using Passmark Burn-In v4.0 on XP Embedded.
Advantech TREK-775 Specs
Type: Rugged vehicle-mounted tablet computer
Housing: Die-cast aluminum with VESA-standard RAM
Processor: Ultra low voltage 600MHz Intel Celeron M
or low voltage 1.1GHz Pentium M
OS: Windows XP, Windows XP Embedded, Windows CE 5.0
Memory: Up to 2GB DDR 333 SDRAM
in two 184-pin sockets
Slots: 1 Mini-PCI Type III A/B, 2 PC Card Type II
(or 1 Type III)
Display: 10.4" SVGA (800 x 600) color TFT with 140/110
degrees viewing angle and 400 nit backlight
(5-100% brightness control in 12 steps)
Digitizer/Pens: Resistive impact and scratch resistant
touch screen with USB interface, antiglare treatment,
and 80% light transmission
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The machine further passed a 24-hour
storage test at 140 degree and 95% humidity,
and a low temperature storage test at -40
degrees Fahrenheit. Next came a 104 degree,
95% humidity 48-hour damp heat test, and
then a “four corner” test where the machine
cycled between 23 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit,
both at its lowest and highest operating voltage. They also turned the power on and off
1,000 times at extreme temperatures, coldstarted the machine at 14 and -13 degrees (HD
and CF) numerous times. Clearly, this is a
machine that keeps working in extreme environmental conditions.
Advantech further lists a variety of standards that the unit meets. Among them are
EMC, EMS, Safety and RF certifications that
apply to various markets. If an intended application has specific environmental requirements, check with Advantech.
Vehicle mounting solutions
Vehicle computers like the TREK-775 may
encounter a variety of different mounting
requirements, and therefore a need for different mounting kits and modules. Advantech
offers a “universal arm” that uses the mounting holes on the side of the unit.
Advantech also offers three different types
of RAM-MOUNT kits from National Products.
National Products’ patented RAM-MOUNT
solutions are the undisputed industry leader
with their unique rubber ball and connector
arm system that makes for unparalleled flexibility and near total absence of vibration.
To change the viewing angle, you simply
loosen the large, grippy control knob, get the
unit into the proper position, and tighten it.
Mounting plates are all industry standard.
Keyboard: Optional external USB
Storage: Supports IDE-based 2.5-inch HDD
or CF-based Flash
Size: 12.2 x 9.9 x 2.9 inches
Ingress protection: IP65 (front bezel, back cover
and sides)
Humidity: 10-95% at 104 degrees Fahrenheit,
Operating temperature: -4 to 140 degree Fahrenheit
with SSD, 32 to 104 for hard disk based units
Weight: 8.8 lbs.
Power: 9-58 Volt DC vehicle power
Communication: Flexible expansion capability for
MiniPCI 802.11b/g WiFi, GPS, GSM/GPRS
Interface: 2 USB 2.0, 2 RS-232/422/485, 2 RS-232,
RJ45 LAN (10/100), 2 PS/2
Price: depends on configuration
Advantech Corporation
38 Tesla, Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92618
Toll Free: 1-800-866-6008
Ph: 949-789-7178
Fax: 949-789-7179
Advantech Co. Ltd.
No.1, Alley 20, Lane 26,
Rueiguang Road
Neihu District,
Taipei Taiwan 114, R.O.C.
Tel: 886-2-2792-7818
Fax: 886-2-2794-7301
Bottom line
The Advantech TREK-775 is a premium quality ruggedized industrial vehicle mount computer from an experienced Taiwanese embedded and industrial systems company with a
worldwide presence. Its heavy, solid matteblack aluminum housing feels invulnerable
and has been tested for operation in temperature extremes and heavy shock and vibration.
The TREK-775 is internally configured
either as an embedded device running Windows XP Embedded on a 4GB solid state disk
or as a full Windows XP machine using a hard
disk. Should the application demand it, Advantech can also configure the machine to run
Windows CE 5.0. Our review unit provided
impressive performance even from minimal
hardware (a 600 MHz Intel Celeron M processor and 256MB of RAM). The unit does not
need a fan, runs silently, and barely warms up.
The aluminum body is sealed to IP65 specifications and can take a lot of abuse.
In vehicles, the optimal display size varies
and so Advantech offers both the TREK-775
with a 10.4-inch display as well as a slightly
larger model, the TREK-776, that has a 12.1inch screen. The resistive touch screen is very
responsive thanks to a USB interface, and it is
also highly configurable for optimal use with
both a stylus or fingers. It also has much
appreciated antiglare treatment.
The TREK-775 offers good onboard connectivity for use with a variety of current or legacy
devices and peripherals. You get two USB 2.0
USB ports, two RS232 serial ports, another two
that support RS232/422/485, two PS/2 ports
for mouse and keyboard should you need
them, and LAN. There are also two PC Card
slots, plus plenty of room inside the unit for
further customization. You can get
802.11a/b/g WiFi with external antenna, GPS
also with external antenna, as well as
GSM/GPRS wireless wide area networking.
In the storage department, you can populate two slots with up to 2GB of RAM,
although our XP Embedded unit worked as
well on just 256MB of RAM as it did in tests
with a full gigabyte.
The Advantech TREK-775 is a clean vehicle
mount computer that combines no-nonsense
industrial design, superb ruggedness, easy
customization and maintenance, and surprisingly quick performance. It can be configured
for a large variety of applications in all kinds
of vehicular applications.
– Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, EIC RuggedPCReview
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