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T&D > Programs Areas > Inventory & Monitoring > Tablet PCs Program Areas
Evaluation of Tablet PCs for Invasive Plant Species Monitoring
Rey Farve, Project Leader

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Setup of Tablet PC for Office --> Field use

NRIS LogoThe following are instructions (developed by Marc Todd) for preparing the Tablet PC prior to using the device in the field.

The NRIS - TESP (Threatened, Endangered, Sensitive Plants)/ Invasive Species application was loaded onto a Tablet PC per the instruction below.

On January 2008, I installed NRIS' InvasivesPC software on an Itronix Duo-Touch Tablet PC. The installation was trouble free, and the application started and ran as it would on a desktop PC.

Data can be downloaded from the corporate database onto the desktop computer, or a new Site created. That information can then be transferred to a Tablet PC.

In order to transfer data between the corporate desktop environment and the Tablet PC one needs only to copy the following three files to a removable storage medium (e.g., a USB thumb drive), where [Site] is the filename:

[Site].fac

[Site].ivp

[Site].pdr

These files are located in whatever folder the user specifies under the "Preferences --> Default files" option from the InvasivesPC main menu.

After copying the files from the desktop to the Tablet PC, a site may be edited in the field as desired. When brought back to the office, the modified files can then be copied back to the appropriate directory on the desktop computer and uploaded from there to the corporate database.

Below are instructions on how to load Microsoft Office XP SP3 onto a Tablet PC. Microsoft Office includes Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.

Office XP SP3 runs on Tablet PCs and is available on the Forest Service software website. This is a full-blown version of Office XP and does not require a license key to install.

  1. Open Internet Explorer, type "downloads" into the address bar, then press "Enter".
  2. Provide your e-Authentication username/password.
  3. Click on the "+" sign next to "FS Workstations".
  4. Click on the "+" sign next to "Commercial Applications".
  5. Scroll down and click on "Microsoft Office XP Professional SP3".
  6. In the resulting screen, click on "Direct Download" (or "BitTorrent Download" if you prefer).
  7. Answer "Yes" to any messages.
  8. Click "Save" when the option appears and save to someplace on your hard drive - the download will probably take a long time.
  9. When the download is complete, copy the file "OfficeXPSP3.exe" to a thumb drive. (It requires about 544 MB of storage space)
  10. Plug the thumb drive into the Tablet PC.
  11. The Tablet PC screen display may need to be in Portrait mode.
  12. Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the file on the thumb drive and double-click on it. It may take awhile before anything appears on the screen.
  13. Follow the instructions and reboot when the installation has completed.

ESRI's ArcPad V7.1 software (which provides mapping , GIS and GPS integration ) was loaded onto the Tablet PC

Transferring GIS corporate data to Tablet PCs

Since the Grand Mesa/Uncompahgre/Gunnison NF's GIS data had not been moved to the National Information Technology Center (NITC) yet (summer of 2008), GM/U/G - NF downloaded GIS data from their Forest server. The process is complicated and probably best left to a GIS specialist (or someone very familiar with ArcPad and GIS) to ensure that files are properly transferred.

Field Evaluation of Tablet PCs

From July to October 2008, SDTDC loaned Lisa VanAmberg (Rio Grande NF) and Brian Hoefling and Stephanie Hart (Grand Mesa/Uncompahgre/Gunnison [GM/U/G] NF) 4 rugidized or semi-ruggidized Tablet PCs (xplore - iX104c2; xTablet T8600 (Mobile Demand); and two - ITRONIX GoBook Duo-Touch (IX325) - pictured below) to evaluate while they performed routine collection of invasive species data in the field. Brian and Stephanie also provided SDTDC with an evaluation of their Fugitzu Stylistic ST Tablet PC (pictured on Investigation page).

Photo_ixplore_Tablet PC
xplore - iX104c2

Photo_mobile_demand Tablet PC
xTablet T8600 (Mobile Demand)

Photo_Itronic_Tablet PC
Itronix GoBook Duo-Touch (IX325)

Brian and Stephanie provided the attached forms of their evaluations. (See their evaluations of the ixplore - iX104c2, ITRONIX GoBook Duo-Touch (IX325); and Fugitzu Stylistic ST.)

Conclusion of field tests:

While Brian and Stephanie pointed out specific pros-and-cons of the of each Tablet, overall they felt that for a Tablet PC to be a usefully field tool, it should have: 1) good screen visibility while using it outdoors, 2) a battery life of at least 5 hours, and 3) a screen that is responsive to the stylus.


Using Tablet PC in field. Left to right:
Seth Ratering (Rio Grande NF);
Brian Hoefling (GM/U/G- NF);
Mark Todd (SDTDC);
Stephanie Hart (GM/U/G- NF)


Stephanie using ixplore Tablet PC

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