Intermec CK3 Mobile Computer
Intermec CK3 Mobile Computer

Rugged multi-purpose mobile computer for data capture
(by Conrad Blickenstorfer)

The Intermec CK3 rugged mobile computer was announced in September of 2008 as an addition to Intermec's lineup of rugged CN and CK Series mobile computers. There is a degree of overlap, so interested parties should carefully study all the offerings to arrive at the one best suited for the job. As is, the new CK3 is a highly adaptable data and image capturing device with various capture methods and secure wireless communications capabilities. The device is primarily targeted towards warehouse operations and retail, though it is suitable for tasks well beyond that.

Whereas many mobile computers are specifically designed for narrowly defined tasks, the CK3 combines a large number of capabilities and features all in one device: 1D and 2D barcode scanning, 802.11a/b/g WiFi with Cisco CCX certification, Voice over IP support, speech recognition, integrated Bluetooth, RFID reader option, handheld or "gun" formats, remote device management, and support for various compatible Intermec mobile printers.

As stated above, Intermec's CN and CK lines of handheld computers are at times a bit difficult to tell apart and the naming conventions are not always immediately obvious. The new CK3, for example, is a very different device from the CN3. Instead, it seems a progression from the slightly larger CK31/CK31ex, which is also a rugged flashlight-style computer, albeit one based on older technology.

Built to survive fairly severe punishment and environmental conditions, the CK3 is a compact and handy machine with a footprint of 3.3 x 8.5 inches, a thickness of just under an inch and a half, and a weight of exactly one pound with the standard 7.4 watt-hour battery (a heftier 18.5 watt-hour battery boosts both battery life and weight). No anticipated battery life is listed.

The device runs Windows Mobile 6.1 "Classic Edition" on the 520MHz version of the popular Marvell PXA270 processor, has 128MB of RAM and 256MB of H3 disk-on-chip Flash, a microSDIO slot for memory expansion and whatever peripheral support microSDIO, and a portrait-oriented 3.5-inch 240 x 320 pixel transflective display with a touchscreen and an LED backlight. Full VGA resolution would have been nice in a new device.

The CK3 comes with an integrated Class 2 Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR module as well as 802.11a/b/g WiFi. The WAN supports WEP, WPA, 802.1x (EAP-TLS, TTLS, LEAP, PEAP) and 802.11i for security, and carries WPA2 and Cisco CCX certifications.

Scanning is one of the CK3's strong sides. You can order the machine with one of three scanners: a 1D linera imager, a 2D area imager, and a 2D near-far auto-focusing area imager. Symbologies supported are:

    * Codes 11, 39, 93, 128
    * UPC/EAN
    * Code/interleaved/matrix 2-of-5
    * Codabar
    * MSI
    * Plessey
    * Telepen
    * Micro PDF417
    * Maxicode
    * Datamatrix
    * QR Code
    * RSS 14/limited/expanded
    * Codablock A/F
    * UCC Composite
    * Postnet
    * Aztec
    * TLC39
    * Infomail
    * a variety of international postal codes.

The device can also accommodate a field-attachable RFID reader via Bluetooth or USB.

Among other accessories are a vehicle dock, single or quad docks that can support LAN, snap-on RS232 and auto adapters, a field-attachable scan pistol grip, holsters, and chargers. The CK3 also works well with the Intermec PB42 receipt printer and PB50 label printer.

Overall, the Intermec CK3 is a rugged, handy mobile computer for warehousing and retail applications based on Microsoft's latest version of Windows CE, equipped with wireless communication and a variety of data scanning and data entry options, including RFID. The device communicates with mobile Intermec printers and supports a host of specialized Intermec software such as terminal emulation support packages such as TE2000 and iBrowse, and Intermec SmartSystems.

Datalogic Memor