shrug-l: REQUEST for info on doing GIS with a tablet PC

William Millinor WMillinor at
Fri Mar 3 10:25:18 EST 2006

At my last position at North Carolina State University we did extensive
research and field work for the National Park Service. Last spring we
bought a rugged tablet for field data collection and it was a great
investment. We had an HP tr something or other but it was really a
rebadged Itronix. (

We used it to display aerial photography and vegetation maps while in
the field and for collection of downed woody debris and Brown's
transects for fuel load analysis. The unit worked great as we ran ArcGIS
in the field without any issues. We were also using some Access scripts
and front ends to collect the data and we could tab between the two
without any issues at all. It was very nice compared to performing
similar work in ArcPad on a CE device. Since it was rugged as well we
were out all day long in rough post burn terrain in Shenandoah with
dirt, debris, and rain and the unit performed great. I'd definitely
recommend one and would get another myself if the need arose. Our unit
did not have a built in gps but you can add those. We just used a
separate Trimble GeoXT. 

I can attest to its ruggedness as the unit was sitting on a log as we
were packing up to move to another point. One of you field guys tripped
and bumped a ten foot tall burnt snag about six inches in diameter. It
fell right on top of the rugged tablet right across the screen. The snag
broke apart and I brushed the bark, charcoal and debris off the screen
and there wasn't even a scratch. I was very surprised and that sealed
the deal for me. 

It sounds like you may not need the rugged version for your work but if
you go that way it beats ArcPad by a mile and the large screen is very
nice. I also liked being able to run the full ArcMap suite along with
Access and other apps as opposed to the Pocket versions. We just plugged
in some excess usb keyboard and mice when we were working in the office
but they do make nice docking units as well.

Bill Millinor, GISP

GIS Analyst
Jones Edmunds
730 NE Waldo Road
Gainesville, FL 32641
325-377-5821 ext. 4141

-----Original Message-----
From: shrug-l-bounces at
[mailto:shrug-l-bounces at] On Behalf Of Bill
Sent: Thursday, March 02, 2006 2:22 PM
To: shrug-l at
Subject: shrug-l: REQUEST for info on doing GIS with a tablet PC

Dear SHRUGgies,

Have any of you had any experience with using a tablet PC to do GIS? I
want to put one in next year's budget, but I don't want to end up with
something that can't do the job. What should I watch for? What should I
spec? Do they have docking stations for desktop use, or should I just
"fake it" with a keyboard, mouse and monitor?

My main purpose for requesting one is so that I can meet with non-GIS
clients within the organization and find out what they want on their
map, then bring it back to the office and make it so.

Any experience from anyone who's been there and done that, or is also
considering it, would be appreciated.

   - beel

W. E. VanSickle
GIS Analyst III / ES Liaison
Environmental Sciences Division
phone: 386-329-4580
fax:     386-329-4585 

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