LAS VEGAS -- Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft Corp. believe they have found the solution for America's on-the-road workers.
The "Ford Mobile Office," a rugged portable computer, will be sold as an accessory for the F-series pickup in 2006.
The computer, which is seen as a boon for construction contractors, is built by Stargate Mobile. The 8-inch screen is visible in bright sunlight and from many angles, allowing workers to huddle around the screen to see what a contractor wants.
Among the computer's features are voice activation, navigation, Internet access, credit card transactions and MP3 playback through the truck's audio system. It can send and receive wireless messages using a Bluetooth connection. The computer runs on Windows XP software.
The computer's flexibility allows a contractor to bid jobs, order parts or conduct sales transactions at the job site. The touch screen avoids the need for a keyboard. A Stargate official said the computer is rugged enough to be dropped on the ground or tossed onto the seat of the truck.
Ford expects the computer to sell for about $3,000. That may sound steep in this era of $500 laptops, but Patricia Dilger, Microsoft's director of automotive and industrial equipment sales, says, "(Navigation) systems alone sell as a $1,200 accessory. And this is much more than just a computer."
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